“The best piece of advice someone has ever given me was ‘do it scared.’ And no matter if you’re scared, just go ahead and do it anyway because you might as well do it scared, so it will get done and you will feel so much better if you step out of your comfort zone” – Sheri Shepard
It is a dangerous thing living in your comfort zone because you never really explore the opportunity to chase your dreams. You are protected from the roller coaster ride of life and as a result you have no life lessons from which you can base how you live your life and the kind of person you want to be.
Living in your comfort zone supports the feelings, thoughts and beliefs that do not serve you well and prevent you from living your life to the fullest. Your fears about life become your reality and you have no idea about your potential, your talents and your skills. You really have no idea about who you are. If you want to live your life to the fullest and you want to achieve your dreams then you are going to have to step out of your comfort zone. Your comfort zone is your self made prison and the longer you stay there the less chance you will have to live your life to your fullest potential.
Living in the comfort zone brings you certainty in life, (or so you think). When you have this so called feeling of certainty then you feel safe and you will do what ever it takes to convince yourself that certainty and feeling safe is the best thing for you. At times it is important to feel safe and confident about what is happening in your life. However if you refuse to step out of your comfort zone your safety net of certainty eventually becomes your prison cell. If you stay there long enough finding the key to release you from your prison becomes too hard. You end up accepting safety and fear as the benchmarks to how you live life.
I have lived parts of my life in the comfort zone and for awhile I felt safe and reasonably happy (so I thought). I was good at convincing myself I was happy and also very skilled at dismissing my feelings of dissatisfaction, disappointment and regret.
One question that would constantly pop up in my mind was “Is there something better for me in life or is this it?”. Of course being an expert at living in the comfort zone I could quickly rationalise with myself that actually life is okay and it’s not worth rocking the boat. As a result I lost out on many opportunities because I was too scared of the unknown and too scared to step out of my comfort zone. It is very hard to be proactive and take on opportunities when one is living in their comfort zone.
Living in your comfort zone is all about personal choice, in that you are the one and only person who can choose to stay or to go. I was forced to leave my comfort zone as a result of 2 major life events – the sudden loss of both parents and the loss of 3 jobs in 18 months. To deal with these major life events I had to leave my comfort zone, I needed to heal and work through the pain and grief of losing my parents and the feelings of failure and rejection as a result of being made redundant three times in eighteen months.Advertising
I knew that by staying in my comfort zone I would be shut away from the reality of what was happening to me. For me to survive and thrive in my life I had to step out of the comfort zone and learn how to face my fears and how to deal with all the uncertainty and the unpredictability of life. Stepping out of your comfort zone doesn’t happen overnight and it is hard work however the rewards you gain are priceless. You start living and experiencing life as it should be lived, with you in control. Your resilience and courage becomes the foundation that enable you to survive and thrive in life.
So how did I step out of my comfort zone? Well, here are 7 courageous actions that I did that helped me to make the decision to step out and stay out of my comfort zone, so that I could live my life with me in control!
1. Complete a 30 Day Challenge of Change
The purpose of this activity is to get you comfortable with change. The challenge also enables you to experience change in small steps and to start to modify the habits and behaviours that keep you locked in your comfort zone.
Every day for 30 days you will do either an everyday task differently or an activity that you have never done before. You will need to record the new activities each day and you can do this on a wall chart. It is important that this wall chart is visible to you and everyone else.
The 30 day challenge is not something you do quietly, you need to announce to everyone what you are doing.
I announced to my friends on FaceBook that I was doing the 30 day challenge of change and everyday I would post the new activity or event. This kept me accountable and meant that I had to complete my challenge as a lot of my friends were supporting and encouraging me.
The 30 day challenge gets you to push your boundaries and doing things you have always been too scared to do. Only you can challenge yourself to do the things that scare you. You don’t need to be scared all the time while you are doing this challenge however if you haven’t been scared at least 6 times during the 30 day challenge then you are wasting your time. You are not being courageous, you are been cautious and safe.Advertising
2. List All Your Fears and Habits That Keep You in Your Comfort Zone
Write this list down on a piece of paper and place it where you can see it everyday. As you go through the 30 day challenge tick the fears and bad habits that you overcome every day of the challenge. You will be surprised how many fears and bad habits you can conquer in 30 days.
This activity helps you get your fears out of your head and on to a piece of paper where you now have control. You soon start to realise as you work through your 30 day challenge that it is only you that has the power to decide if you want to live your life ruled by your fears or not.
Get educated about you and what it is that you do and think that keeps you in your comfort zone. Figure out what you need to do to better manage these behaviours and habits that have control over you and how you live your life.
3.Start Using Your Power Of Choice
Remember living your life in your comfort zone is your choice. Only you have the power to change this and you do this by choosing to live your life differently. Your power of choice is a gift and it enables you to live your life with you in control. Your power of choice enables you to survive and thrive in life and that means you are living your life to it fullest.
Try to be more reflective in your decision making and learn how to trust yourself. The big fear that limits your power of choice is your fear of failure. You need to deal to this fear and understand that it is only through failure that one can learn and grow in life.
These 3 questions that helped me have more confidence about making choices and decisions in my life are
- What is the worst thing that will happen if I fail?
- Have I thought this through carefully or am I acting on impulse or emotion?
- In what ways would my life be better if I went ahead with this opportunity or goal?
4. Keep a Journal of Celebration
Celebrate your successes. Once you have completed the 30 day challenge don’t stop, keep pushing your boundaries. Living out of your comfort zone is a life long journey. Your journal is a great way for you to record and celebrate your successes.Advertising
Keeping a journal is an important strategy to help you maintain your motivation and desire to live your life to the fullest. Recording your journey in life and all your successes will help grow your confidence and self belief. It is these two qualities in life that provide the fuel for to keep you going and to keep pushing your boundaries.
5. Read Books About Change, Personal Growth and Managing Risk
Knowledge is powerful tool in life as it enables you to change your life. I started reading books about personal growth and personal change. I also watched lots of Ted Talks about motivation, success, risk taking and failure.
The more I read and the more action I took to push my boundaries the more opportunities came my way. I also started meeting people who had been on their own personal journeys of change and I found their stories inspirational.
There are 3 events in ones life that create personal change. They are;
- An opportunity comes your way that is unexpected – job promotion, inheritance or winning the lottery
- Personal Crises – an unexpected event that changes your life dramatically
- Choice – you proactive and choose to make a decision to make changes in your life
I had a personal crises that forced me to change my life and step out of my comfort zone. It was tough but I survived and I know now how to live my life to its fullest. I am not afraid of life and I am definitely more courageous and resilient.
However if I had to choose an event that would enable me to live life out of my comfort zone I would go for Life Event 3 – Choice.. Being proactive and using my power of choice to make the changes I need to make in my life is a far less painful way for me to step out of my comfort zone than to deal with a personal crises.
Don’t wait for a personal crises to force you to change your life,use your power of choice and act on it now. Take control of your life and choose to step out of your comfort zone so that you can truly live a life where you are surviving and thriving.Advertising
6. Find Someone Who Has Done What You Want To Do With Life
Find someone who you admire, dead or alive that lives their life outside of their comfort zone. Get to know them either through reading books, watching movies or talking to them one on one. Find out everything about them, in fact stalk them (in a nice way) and copy exactly how they act, what they think and what they do that enables them to live their life outside of their comfort zone. Let them become your teacher and your mentor. They will show you how to be courageous and how you can live outside of your comfort zone forever!
7. Get Your Mind Body and Soul Aligned
Stepping out of your comfort zone requires desire, motivation and courage. Having your mind body and soul aligned builds your mental and physical stamina and resilience so that you can survive and thrive in life – No 7 is key to successfully keeping you out of your comfort zone forever.
Exercising regularly, eating well, getting lots of sleep and having time out for your mind to rest (being mindful) are activities that are key to you surviving and thriving in life. These activities strengthen your resilience and your courage and as a result living out of your comfort zone gets easier and easier to do.
So go use these 7 things to help you step out of your comfort zone. You won’t regret it because you truly will live your life the way it should be lived.
Good luck. I would love to hear how you are going stepping of your comfort zone and living a life that is real – the good, the great, the bad and the ugly!
Last Updated on May 21, 2019
How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship
For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.
If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:
You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.
You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.
In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.
You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.
People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.
You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.
You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.
The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.
You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.
Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.
If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.
Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:
- Understand your own communication style
- Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
- Communicate with precision and care
- Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger
1. Understand Your Communication Style
To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.
In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.
Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.
2. Learn Others Communication Styles
Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.
If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:
“How do you prefer to receive information?”
This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.
To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.
3. Exercise Precision and Care
A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.
On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.
Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.
I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.
I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.
In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.
The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.
Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.
4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger
Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.
In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,
“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”
Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.
Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.
It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.
It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.
It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.
Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.
Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.
The Bottom Line
When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.
I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.
More Articles About Effective Communication
- Conflict Management Styles for Effective Communication at Work
- 13 Best Communication Books for Stronger Social Skills & Relationships
- How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home
- 7 Most Important Communication Techniques to Master in the Workplace
Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com
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