“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 July 20, 2021
How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.
Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:
1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically
According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.
“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor
Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:
If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.
If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.
Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:
- Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
- Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
- Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.
Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.
To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.
Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.
Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.
Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.
Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.
Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:
2. Focus on your goal
One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.
Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’
Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.
Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.
If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.
3. Convert negativity to positivity
There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?
‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’
It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.
Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”
Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.
Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:
4. Understand your content
Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.
However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.
“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor
Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.
Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.
One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.
5. Practice makes perfect
Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.
In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.
Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!
6. Be authentic
There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.
Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.
Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.
To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.
With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.
Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:
7. Post speech evaluation
Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.
Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation
We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.
You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.
Improve your next speech
As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:
- How did I do?
- Are there any areas for improvement?
- Did I sound or look stressed?
- Did I stumble on my words? Why?
- Was I saying “um” too often?
- How was the flow of the speech?
Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.
If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:
- How to Give a Presentation Like a Pro
- 10 Tips for More Effective PowerPoint Presentations
- Tricks to Deliver an Impressive Presentation Every Time
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