One of the hardest things to do in life is to leave your comfort zone. But, if you want to live the life you dream about, it is inevitable that you will eventually be forced to step into the unknown, outside of your comfy and safe comfort zone.
“Don’t let fear make your decisions for you.”
We spend a lot of life living within what is comfortable for us. It is our safe place; the one in which we don’t risk anything and don’t experience the anxiety that often comes with stretching. “Why fix it if it isn’t broken” is the mantra for many of us.
That comfort zone is the bubble that surrounds your subconscious, the one that you love to remain inside because everything is knowable, familiar, and safe. When you try to push beyond the edges of this boundary, your mind pushes back, craving routine and familiarity.
“Are you really happy or just comfortable?”
What Amazing Career Opportunities Are You Missing Out On?
It can be scary to try new things, but comfort zones limit you and keep you confined to what you already know, inhibiting your growth and development. In no area of your life is this truer than your career.
Perhaps your current job is comfortable and you know it so well you can almost “do it in your sleep.” Not to mention that, even if it doesn’t pay as much as you’d like, at least it is a steady paycheck.
You know you are capable of so much more, and when you are honest with yourself, you know you couldn’t be any further from the career path that would be really fulfilling to you. Not just financially fulfilling, but personally and professionally too. But you are scared to give up the security of that steady paycheck, and the possibility of failing if you pursue your career dreams is downright scary. So you stay where you are…in that comfort zone.
What amazing experiences and career growth are you missing out on when you refuse to step outside your career comfort zone? By limiting your career to the areas in which you feel “safe” you also limit yourself from reaching your full professional potential.
“Coming out of your comfort zone is tough in the beginning, chaotic in the middle, and awesome in the end…because in the end, it shows you a whole new world.”
Do you feel stuck? Stuck in your professional growth? Stuck in an unfulfilling job? These are good signs that it is time to step out of your career comfort zone.
How Do You Get Out of Your Career Comfort Zone?
As human beings, we are naturally adaptable and designed for personal growth. While it might seem scary, as soon as you do whatever it is that is scaring you it becomes less so, and you begin to incorporate that into your comfort zone, expanding it and stretching it.
How we perceive ourselves and what we think we can accomplish has a lot to do with what we are willing to try. The shift occurs when you stretch your realm of possibility. If you begin to really believe something is possible, regardless of how far away that goal is from the present, you can stretch your comfort zone to get there.
Shifting your thinking this way, into the realm of new possibilities, will help you to reach goals that seem otherwise unreachable. We can use it to our advantage to help us grow professionally and craft the life and the career we want. That’s the true power of this realm of possibility. Start dreaming, start imagining, and start expanding what you believe you can do and you’ve taking an important first step towards professional growth and expanding your career comfort zone.
“If you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.”
As you start to stretch your comfort zone and move further and further into the realm of possibility, something interesting happens. Your self-confidence goes up and that, in turn, fuels your own ability to continue to stretch and grow your comfort zone. It’s a self-propelling cycle. The more you stretch, the more confident you get. The more confidence you have the further you can stretch.
Here are 6 ways to get started.
Visualize Your Future
Set aside some time to reflect, dream, and imagine what is possible. Journaling is often helpful. Think about what could be possible in your career. How would things change for the better if you were to achieve this dream? How would your career be more fulfilling? How would your personal life benefit? Let your imagination run. You have to imagine something is possible before you can make it happen.
When your resolve starts to wane, and you begin seeking comfort in your old ways, remember why you chose to expand your career comfort zone and why it is essential to you. Keeping your focus on this can help boost your motivation and enable you to stick with it when things feel scary. Visualize your career without fear and how much it will improve and return to that image whenever you need to.
You don’t have to dive in headfirst. Maybe It would be better to just dip your toes in. What does this mean in terms of your career? Well, maybe you could try volunteering in the area you are interested in as a career change. Maybe you could job shadow someone for a while and see if it is really something that interests you. How about taking a course to learn more about the career choices that interest you. Instead of quitting your job, maybe you could freelance on the side for a while.
Take the process slowly, you can make stretching yourself a new habit in and of its own. The whole idea behind pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone is embracing new experiences and learning how to manage change and progress in a controlled way.
With each new experience you stretch your career comfort zone a little further, not to mention that when you stretch in this way, new and unexpected opportunities have a way of presenting themselves.
One of the main reasons many people stay stuck in their career comfort zone is fear. Fear of losing security. Fear of failing. To defeat this negative way of thinking, you first must realize that you’re doing it. You also must realize that without risk, there’s no reward. Risks are opportunities and failure is just a chance to learn and grow.
Learn to frame your thoughts in a positive way and use positive language. Instead of saying, “I’m not good at this,” say, “I have a great deal to learn about this.”
Journaling can help with this too. Writing about your personal boundaries, how you are trying to expand those, and the barriers you impose upon yourself can be helpful. Journaling improves your self-awareness, and until you are aware of the ways you are limiting your thinking, it is impossible to know how to expand your realm of possibilities. Write about what you find risky and what chances scare you and explore the reasoning behind these thoughts.
“The biggest rewards in life are found outside your comfort zone. Live with it. Fear and risk are prerequisites if you want to enjoy a life of success and adventure.”
Imagine the Worst
Often the thing we’re most afraid of and that keeps us firmly in our career comfort zone is the unknown. Once we know what we’re dealing with it’s a lot less scary and easier to make a plan and take action. Make this work to your advantage by asking yourself “what’s the worst that could happen”.
This simple mental exercise is often all it takes to get us to start taking action. Imagine the worst possible outcome and then figure out how you would deal with it if it came to that. Suddenly things don’t seem so scary anymore do they?
Take It One Step at a Time
When you just look at your end goal—your ultimate career goal—it can seem overwhelming. How will you get from here to there? Instead, break that goal down into bite-size chunks.
Maybe you need to earn a professional certification. Okay…so that involves getting signed up for the class, reorganizing your schedule so that every Monday night is free for the next two months so you can attend that class, working in two hours of study time each Saturday…bite-size chunks. Just tackle one per day and each day that you follow through your self-confidence will grow and your career comfort zone will stretch a bit further.
Enlist Support and Find a Fearless Mentor
Reach out to the most supportive person in your life, share your dreams, and ask them to be your accountability partner and personal cheerleader. Accountability works and it can work for you when it comes to stepping out of your career comfort zone. Ask your friend to check in with you regularly to discuss your progress.
Everyone is afraid, but it is how you handle the fear that defines you. Look for people in your life who can push forward despite their reservations, who embrace life and all its possibilities. What can you learn from them? What strategies can they teach you for learning to embrace life and to step outside your comfort zone?
“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.”
Pushing Those Career Boundaries
The first time you try something new, you might be afraid of the unknown. But, the more you expand your career comfort zone, the easier new things become.
Once you’ve succeeded at something, it’s easier to try another new thing. You can build on your success and confidence for the next challenge you face. In time, you’ll look forward to expanding your career comfort zone even more because of the benefits you’ve already received: more career fulfillment, more self-confidence, lower stress, deeper self-awareness, increased creativity and innovative thinking, higher levels of resiliency, improved productivity, and many other benefits.
Expanding your comfort zone will help you learn, grow, and achieve more in your career and in life. Keeping your comfort zone too small limits your opportunities and ability to succeed. If you want to live life to the fullest, now is the time to start expanding your comfort zone.