For many, the simple act of starting their own business is a huge step outside of their comfort zone. For others, it’s the natural next step on their journey of professional development.
Whichever camp you fall into, it’s essential to keep moving forward, and if you haven’t already reached the edge of it, sooner or later that’s going to mean stepping out of your comfort zone.
However, just being uncomfortable doesn’t mean you’re going to be successful. You need to identify the areas where stepping out of your comfort zone will help your business. More importantly, you need to find ways to step out of your comfort zone that won’t consume all your attention and energy. The comfortable parts of your business still need to be taken care of too.
Let’s look at some of the key ways that you can safely and smartly step outside your comfort zone.
Don’t Go Too Far Too Fast
Often, we tend to think of our comfort zone in strictly black and white terms. Sometimes you will be inside your comfort zone while other times you won’t.
In reality, it’s much more gradual than that. Usually, we’re afraid of taking those small steps because we associate them with the final, furthest step out of our comfort zone.
That mindset, more than anything else, is what’s keeping from stepping out of your comfort zone at all. Give yourself permission to take small steps and not jump right to the most uncomfortable thing on your list. Or, give yourself permission to jump right back into your comfort zone after taking a couple of steps outside of it.
To put this in concrete terms, let’s look at one of the jobs you’ll have as a business owner...cold calling. In some ways, cold calling is something you’re either doing or not. Even still, you can break it into smaller chunks, you can start with the contacts you think are going to be most receptive to hearing from you, you can even make just one call and move on to other tasks. The most important thing isn’t cold-calling every contact available to you, it’s finding a way to make those first few calls.
Once you’ve made the first few small steps, your comfort zone will expand, and it will be easier to keep moving forward by finding other small steps you can take. If you tell yourself it's all or nothing, it will be harder and cost much more energy to accomplish your tasks.
What’s the Worst That Could Happen?
Things that we think are outside of our comfort zone we’ve placed there because of the consequences we’ve imagined that make us fail. To overcome that hesitation, you should ask yourself two questions.
1. What’s The Worst That Could Happen?
9 times out of 10, the worst that could happen isn’t that bad. Usually, the worst that can happen is rejection. A no from a potential customer can sting, but what actually happened? You didn’t lose anything, they already weren’t working with you, and as long as you were respectful, there’s still the chance for a future relationship.
In the remaining instances, the worst that can happen is incredibly unlikely. Almost not worth worrying about, certainly not worth refusing to do a task over. Also, knowing the worst that could happen will allow you to have a plan in place for it, and even neutralize the adverse effects.
2. Will It Be Worse If I Don’t Do It?
The comfort zone is just that, comfortable. But it’s not always safe. Sometimes the worst thing that could happen will happen if you don’t step out of your comfort zone.
Let’s look at cold calling, for example. It’s unpleasant, but the worst thing that can happen from cold calling is a no. The worst thing that could happen if you don’t cold call is that you don’t get the customers or partnerships you need to succeed.
3. You’re The Only One Stopping You
For the most part, the most significant barrier to accomplishing the tasks outside of your comfort zone are your own reservations. If you’re stepping out of your comfort zone to approach someone, they’re not stepping out of their comfort zone by replying to you. What you’re asking of them is (usually) a request they’re used to hearing or have accepted as being part of the industry.
It doesn’t cost them anything to hear your request, and even if it goes terribly, they’re not going to hold it against you. If anything, they might not remember you.
To backtrack a bit to the last point, the worst thing that can happen with a potential client or partner is that they don’t remember you. They’re definitely not going to remember you if you never make an attempt, so get out of your own way, and give it a shot.
4. Do It Again (And Again And Again)
To be successful, the things that make you uncomfortable now will eventually need to become part of your comfort zone. The only way to make that happen is to expand your comfort zone by repeatedly stepping out of it.
Habits, after all, are comfortable. If uncomfortable tasks become habits, they become comfortable, and the only way to turn them into a habit is by continually choosing to perform those tasks.
Success in business means stepping you of your comfort zone. Successfully stepping out of your comfort zone means taking careful and thoughtful steps, but not overthinking.
You don’t need to find the energy or willpower to do everything right away, it’s enough to be mindful, and have control over your own actions, while still considering what you need to form successful habits.
Ultimately, the goal is to expand your comfort zone to the point that it encompasses all of your daily obligations.