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7 Ways To Push Yourself Out Of Your Comfort Zones

7 Ways To Push Yourself Out Of Your Comfort Zones

I’ll be the first to admit that stepping out of the comfort zone is incredibly difficult. Perhaps the reason for this is because a person’s comfort zone is expandable, and simply continues to grow. Thinking about it, the edge of a person’s comfort zone is sort of like a carrot on a stick. Once you push the limit of your own zone, the limit expands once more. In essence, this is the reason we should always work toward expanding our comfort zones. As we get more comfortable pushing our own boundaries, we will constantly expose ourselves to new and exciting experiences. You can do this by following these tips.

1. Not calling it a “comfort zone”

A “comfort zone” is really a euphemism for a “rut.” Two years ago, I moved 200 miles away from my friends and family with my girlfriend (who is now my wife!). Literally every step I took for the first few months was a step outside of my comfort zone. Finding a new a job, exploring a new city, paying my own bills. The first year of living on my own was an exercise in experiencing discomfort. However, two years later and all of this is simply status quo for my new life. The experiences that were “new” to me two years ago are now so commonplace that they don’t even excite me anymore. Now I must find different ways to expand my comfort zone (one of them being writing for websites where thousands of people are privy to my inner thoughts). Comfort can be good, but too much of it leads to complacency.

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2. Embrace discomfort

Embracing discomfort may sound absolutely ridiculous, but it can lead to exponential growth of your comfort zone. For example, applying and interviewing for your first job is absolutely nerve-wracking. However, avoiding doing so can only result in failure, whereas putting in any sort of effort at least gives you a chance of succeeding. Plus, the more you put yourself out there, the easier it will become. Soon, applying for jobs and being interviewed by potential employers will be less and less intimidating, and you’ll be more confident in your communication skills and your abilities. Being okay with being uncomfortable is the first step toward expanding your comfort zone.

3. Surround yourself with a variety of people

We all have our group of friends we feel most comfortable around. However, as is the theme with this article, what’s comfortable isn’t always what’s best. Hanging out with the same group of people all the time can get pretty stagnant. Meeting new people is the best way to expose yourself to new ideas and new ways of life. This expansion may lead to connections and relationships that will last a lifetime. Of course, you won’t always like the new people you meet, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Finding the good in everyone around you is important, as it guarantees you’ll stay open to new experiences and new perspectives.

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4. Be a lifelong learner

It is absolutely shocking how many people stop learning after they graduate from high school or college. So many of us think that because we have a degree, there’s no point in educating ourselves any further. This couldn’t be more untrue. Those that haven’t learned anything new since they were 21 are doomed to the “rut,” in which they go to work, come home, eat, sleep, and repeat for the next 30 years. Learning a new skill is definitely tough, especially when life and the real world get in the way, but it’s important to continue growing in some way or another. Even if the skill you learn won’t benefit your career, it will definitely improve your overall life. Keep trying new things throughout your life; you might even find your true calling.

5. Always stay “on”

Like I said, it’s easy to come home after a rough day at work, turn the TV on, and veg out for the night. It’s easy, but it doesn’t get you anywhere. Every waking moment is another chance to excel that you’ll never be able to get back. Don’t wait for new experiences to come to you. Go out and find them! If you have twenty minutes in between work and picking up your children, take the time to read a new recipe, or listen to a podcast on current events, pr study a new language — whatever it is: Do something! Again, the more active you are, the more comfortable you’ll become with being active. Eventually, you’ll reach a point where doing nothing is actually stressful and boring rather than relaxing.

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6. Be kind to yourself

A lot of the time (and I’m guilty of this myself), people stay in their comfort zones because they are afraid of a negative reaction to taking a risk. Simply put: They wouldn’t be called “risks” if there wasn’t the chance of failure. However, failure is not a one-and-done occurrence. One failure is simply a bump in the road to success. Be confident in your ability to push past short-comings and continue striving toward your goals. Another thing to think about is the fact that without failure, success wouldn’t feel so amazing. When you succeed at something that you had a chance of failing at, you can be sure that you have truly accomplished a goal.

7. Have faith

Along with having self-confidence, you should also have faith in yourself and the world around you. Trust that if you work hard to push yourself to the extreme, your work will pay off in some way or another. Even if you fall short of a goal, have faith that the experience has taught you something. Perhaps you didn’t get the job you interviewed for, but as long as you didn’t completely bomb out during the interview process, the prospective employer may keep you on their radar for something else in the near future, or may recommend you to another agency or organization. As long as you continue to press forward, have faith that your efforts will only be meaningless if you fail to recognize the meaning in them. As long as you’ve given yourself a purpose, every action you take will bring you one step closer to true success.

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Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm6.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

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Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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