You’ve probably experienced something difficult. Maybe it was learning a new skill, meeting a new person, or taking on a challenge you’d never done. We don’t often enjoy these things when they are happening, but, looking back, we have to admit: this is where the growth happens, this is where the solutions are, and this is where fulfillment resides – In short, the really important stuff happens outside our comfort zone.
Therefor, how can we maximize these moments outside our comfort zone?
Acknowledge the value – Reality is that we move toward what we esteem. The first step is simply to confess that getting out of our comfort zone is a good thing. Say it out loud if you need to: “Getting out of my comfort zone is good for me!” Remember, unless you do so, you won’t experience the growth you want, the solution you need, or the fulfillment you desire.
Lean into the experience – So many people shrink back whenever they experience pain. The problem is that this can become a habit, or worse, a way of life. Instead, embrace the discomfort. Move toward it. This is an important step in accomplishing anything significant. We have to go through the realm of discomfort to get what we want in life.
Notice your fear – If we feel anxiety or fear, that’s normal. But, and this is critical, we don’t have to be controlled by it. Yes, it can be an indication of danger. It can also be an indication that we are on the right path and about to experience a break-through. Just notice the anxiety or fear but keep moving forward. Often, the ability to push through fear is the only thing that separates those who succeed from those who fail.
Don’t over-think it – This is my biggest temptation. I want to know the entire path. I want a map to the destination. Alas, I rarely get one. But that’s okay. We all really need is clarity for the next step. When getting it, take the next step in faith, believing you will be given the light you need to take the next one.
Play full out – It’s easy to get timid when we move outside our comfort zone. We think maybe we can just ease into it, kind of like sliding into a cold swimming pool. Not so much. Better to jump in with both feet. It’s not usually as bad as we think. We have a better chance of success if we give it our all.
Celebrate the victory – Historically, I have not been very good at this. As soon as I accomplish something, I check it off and move on. But I am learning the importance of marking the moment, recognizing the achievement, and expressing my appreciation to those who helped make it happen. It’s important for you and for them.
Pause to reflect – It’s also important to take a little time to process your experience
. What did you do well? What would you do differently next time? What life principles can you distill from the experience that will help you in your next challenge? It’s worth jotting a few notes in your journal or, if this was a team effort, scheduling a time to debrief.
If you are out to accomplish significant things in your life, you are going to be spending a lot of time outside your comfort zone.
You might as well get the most out of it.