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Moving Out of Your Comfort Zone: Five Tips

You’ve heard it before, “move out of your comfort zone” is the familiar phrase spoken by many entrepreneurs, gurus and mentors. As a therapist and small business owner, I’ve come to appreciate the sage advice to move beyond my comfort zone in business, relationships, and life.  When it came time for me to launch out into private practice, I had to move through some pretty intense fears related to income security, fears of failure, and concerns about making good decisions all on my own, but I understood that fear should not be allowed to determine how you go about life.

Fast forwarding to the present moment, I now own my own practice as a therapist helping clients move through relationship and emotional limitations and as a small business coach helping other healing practitioners and creative types start and grow the business of their dreams. I am privileged to help others find and live out their God-given life purposes in all areas of their life and I am working the way I’ve always wanted.  Even so, I find that I have to continually fight the human urge to keep things safe and comfortable.  Keeping things safe and comfortable is a sure recipe for no growth, fewer rewards, and stagnation, so I have to make a conscious effort to push myself beyond my comfort zone each and every day to enjoy spiritual, emotional, and financial growth.

Don’t let yourself stagnate, push yourself out of comfort zones in all areas of life.
Here are 5 tips to help you step outside your comfort zone and into the adventure and success zone:

1. Change your thoughts – Everyone struggles with limiting thought patterns from time to time, but because thoughts drive feelings and behavior, it is important to learn to harness those negative thoughts and replace them with more reality-based, positive thoughts. It is absolutely true that when we choose to pay attention to the positive aspects of life this thought pattern orients our mind-body system toward success-inviting behaviors.

Start by examining those pesky little “what if” questions that creep into our minds. Questions like, “What if I allow myself to be vulnerable and emotionally invest in this relationship but discover that it won’t work?” or  “What if I open up my own office and can’t get enough business to pay the rent?”. These are the kind of fear-based questions that will keep you in your comfort zone. Harness those questions and replace them with positive “what if” questions. “What if I open up emotionally in this relationship and it frees up the other person to feel better about connecting with me?” or “What if spoke at an association meeting and was able to communicate my passion about my work?”

2. Move through fear with action. Use your fears to challenge yourself to new heights. The best antidote to fear is taking action. Take an adventurous approach to anything you fear. Are you afraid to fly on airplanes and as a result, keep missing out on family vacations?  Talk to a counselor, coach, or friend and then do it – step on to that airplane and breathe deeply while you fly to your next awesome family vacation.  Are you afraid to invest time, energy and money into a business idea you’ve had for a long time?  Get some objective advice about best business practices for your idea and then step out in faith.  Are you afraid to speak in front of groups? Perhaps you could join Toast Masters and learn how to speak in a group where everyone else is also learning.

The crazy thing about fear is that it is an emotion that is rarely based in truth. Fear is generally based on cognitive distortions – thoughts that are skewed in deceptive ways.  Don’t let some distorted version of reality stop you from making gains, start taking actions and move through the fear.

3. Picture yourself reaching that next level of success. The brain can more easily create new neural pathways when we engage as many of the senses as possible, so create a mental movie that is rich in details. What would it look like when you reach that major goal? What kinds of sights, smells, tastes and feelings will you experience once you reach that goal? Take a few 5 minute breaks throughout the day to relax with deep breaths and run your mental movie. The more you picture yourself accomplishing your goal, the more likely you are to move out of your comfort zone to create the new thoughts and behaviors needed to succeed.

4. Take up a hobby or sport that moves you out of your comfort zone. Some people go sky-diving or wind-surfing to provide them the opportunity to experience the mind-body feeling state of doing something new and conquering fear. You do not necessarily need to take up a high-risk hobby or sport to move out of the comfort zone. You could try something as simple as hiking a little longer or higher than usual, taking a sculpting class, painting a picture without being concerned with the outcome or joining a community softball team.

The emotional and mental experience of trying a new hobby or sport will translate to an expanded vision for your life, your relationships, and your career/business. Your brain will grown new neural networks as you try new things and experience new feeling states which will result in growing your ability to try new approaches, think new thoughts, and attempt new ways of doing things in all areas of life.

5. Invest money into your personal development.  When times are tight, our knee-jerk reaction is to tend to cut back on classes, coaching, or counseling.  Instead of giving in to the temptation to slash growth-producing spending, find some savvy ways to invest in your personal development.  This will signal your own psyche that you value yourself as a wonderfully created being and that you have faith in yourself to grow to new heights in life, love and work.

If you need help moving out of your comfort zone, consider investing in counseling, business or career coaching, mentoring, or consult an objective person who will help you set new goals and reach for the stars.  Make this phrase your life mantra, “Feel the fear, and do it anyway!”

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