Most people are wired to avoid situations that make us uncomfortable. We know what we’re good at and who we trust. We enjoy the bubble we’ve made for ourselves. Venturing beyond our comfort zone could risk the possibility of awkward conversations, asking for help, or failure.
How many opportunities are lost (especially as women) because we are scared to move beyond our comfort zone? In a recent TED Talk, psychologist Susan Davis suggested, “Discomfort is the price of admission for a meaningful life.” Whether you completely agree with her or not, it’s hard to deny we could be leaving a lot of opportunities or experiences on the table just because we’re scared to get uncomfortable. Whether it’s something small like public speaking or something big like changing careers, we need to know how to step out of our comfort zone.
ADMIT YOU’RE A BEGINNER
We work hard to ensure we are well-prepared for all our tasks at hand. Particularly as women, we strive to “have everything together.” Part of our fear of trying something new is the fear of being a beginner at something and the uncertainty that comes with that. You probably run like a well-oiled machine in your current job. Branching out and taking on something new would inevitably mean a lot of learning and asking for help. When we enjoy feeling like a seasoned, competent professional, this can be difficult. Don’t let pride get in the way of taking on something new and scary.
One trick that many people recommend is researching the task at hand. The more knowledgeable you are about something, the more comfortable you’ll typically feel about it. If you want to step outside your comfort zone and run a marathon, conquer your anxiety by learning more about running: the best types of gear, different types of training, marathon courses. The more you learn about the ins and outs of the task at hand, the more comfortable you’ll feel.
Discomfort almost always precedes growth and learning. The more we practice being uncomfortable, the easier it becomes. Embrace the feeling and know you’re growing as an individual and a professional every time you try something new – even if you fail. Professional athletes have trained to embrace these discomforts. Every time they’re thrown to the ground or are out of breath, they embrace the discomfort with the hope that victory will be the eventual outcome.
While stepping outside your comfort zone, find opportunities to be thankful. If you’ve been assigned a new project outside your realm of expertise, take a step back and be thankful that your supervisors have entrusted you with the opportunity. If you are starting your own business, be thankful for the resources and knowledge that have brought you to such an exciting point in your career. Diving into a new opportunity can be scary; it also the perfect time to show gratitude.