Expert Panel, Forbes Coaches Council
A person's "comfort zone" is called that for a reason: It's comfortable and safe. However, your comfort zone can also be a place of stagnation -- one that keeps you from seizing opportunities for growth, just because it involves something unfamiliar.
Coaches continually push their clients to explore the unfamiliar, whether that means reaching out to new professional contacts, starting a passion project they've been putting off, or simply taking a small risk that could push them toward their goals. However, it can often be difficult to change one's mindset about risk versus reward, especially if they take refuge in familiarity. That's why we asked 13 Forbes Coaches Council members to weigh in on how a person can mentally help themselves step out of their comfort zones.
1. Study Your Physical Manifestations Of Fear
When was the last time you felt uncomfortable? What did it feel like? Where did you feel it in your body? Was it in your chest? Your stomach? By getting clear on how discomfort manifests in your body, it makes it easier to notice when you are out of your comfort zone. It allows you put yourself in situations that make you a bit uncomfortable and open you up to growth. - Aaron Levy, Raise The Bar Consulting
2. Tell Yourself, 'I Am Fearless'
Disempowering thought habits keep us in our comfort zones. Replacing those thoughts with empowering ones help us take a new perspective and move to action. Repeating the mantra, "I am fearless" over and over again and envisioning yourself successfully doing or achieving what you fear can help you reprogram your disempowering thought habit and move forward. - Janet Ioli, Janet Ioli International
3. Recognize Your Reactive Thoughts And Tack A New, Positive Thought Onto Them
Piggyback a new thought pattern onto a knee-jerk response. For example, if you're typically offended by negative feedback at work, associate that feedback as constructive advice from someone who helps you improve. When you feel your initial response is to reject, deny or balk at feedback, stop for a moment and imagine that person is handing you a gift for you to achieve your fullest potential. - Beth Kuhel, Get Hired, LLC
4. Look Up And Around You
As we get older, we see less and less of what's really around us. We create quick references to things and file them away in our brains as "familiar." I ask my clients to observe the faces of the people they pass by. I tell them to look up at the buildings and observe details that surround them and consider the beauty they see. Many loved this exercise because it shifts something inside them. - Karyn Gallant, Gallant Consulting Group
5. Revisit Your Greatest Accomplishments
Accomplishments are often made because of courage. Stepping forward in faith and looking fear in the eye isn't easy, but it helps us realize what we are truly made of. When we're stuck in comfort, familiarity is actually our frenemy: A friend we rely on, yet who also keeps us beneath our highest potential. By revisiting our greatest successes, we remember that courage is what got us there. - Tonyalynne Wildhaber, The Courage Practice
6. Find A Compelling Reason
Stepping out of our comfort zone can be difficult if we do not build a compelling reason to do so. Take the time to think about what it could be like to take that step. Marinate in that visual, idea or thought long enough to build solid momentum that propels you into inspired action. - Indira Jerez, INNERtia Project
7. Physically Embody The Change
Shifts in the mindset lead to shifts in the body and emotional state. But the opposite can also be true. Using Amy Cuddy's work in her book Presence, focus on embodying the change by either standing in the Wonderwoman/Superman pose or other expansive poses to help increase your sense of power and confidence. The more you do the poses, the more you will be able to step out of your comfort zone. - Monica Thakrar, MTI
8. Make It A Habit To Try Something New
Your urge for the familiar is trying to protect you. Make it clear that new things are safe, and you'll get bolder by the week. Go easy on yourself and start small. Go to a new restaurant. Invite someone you've just met for coffee. Go to a networking event. Try something new every, say, Wednesday. Make it routine. You will be shocked by how quickly change seems much less intimidating. - Dr. Rachel MK Headley, Rose Group, Intl
9. Reframe What It Means To Be Comfortable
The world is changing quickly, and "comfort zones" are less of an option. Change often brings fear and uncertainty. What are you feeling when you are in your "comfort zone?" Safe? Secure? Maybe, but are you also bored, inflexible, stagnant? What if your "comfort zone" was also your "failure zone" because nothing changed? Reframe "comfort" to mean growth, learning, or purpose and see what changes. - Rachel Bellack, The Improv Advantage
10. Rationalize The Fear
Start by identifying the fear that makes something uncomfortable, then go through a quick mental exercise to rationalize why you shouldn't proceed with this uncomfortable and fearful next step. If the rationalization is factual, perhaps you don't proceed. However, if the rationalization is purely emotional, perhaps you need to proceed and push through any discomfort. - Jim Vaselopulos, Rafti Advisors, Inc.
11. Take One Small Step
It's natural for our minds to resist change. Thinking about taking the tiniest step tricks your brain into taking action. Take a goal and break it down into small steps. Focus on one step at a time. This approach will boost your confidence, associate a positive outcome with your goal and motivate you to stick with pursuing it to ultimately achieve the result you desire. - Rosie Guagliardo, InnerBrilliance Coaching
12. Compare The Worst And Best Possible Outcomes
Ask yourself, "What's the worst that could happen?" Then, "What's the best case scenario of what could happen?" Both of those questions should help you address any fear or discomfort, then channel energy toward the success of trying or exploring something new. By doing this, you're also framing a great relevant story for future interviews or stories about yourself. - Joanne Markow, GreenMason
13. Act As If You're Comfortable And Just Do It
All the pep talks and classes under the sun won't make it easier to step out of your comfort zone. The best way to accomplish this feat is to act as if you are someone else who you know would have no problem taking this step. The reality is that once you do it and see you can do it, the rest comes naturally. But you need that initial shove, and this will get it done. - Laura DeCarlo, Career Directors International
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