When was the last time that you stepped outside your comfort zone?
If you’re growing your business, you’re going to be uncomfortable quite often, especially at first. No matter how much you believe in your product, it might feel awkward the first few times you explain it to others. You might be terrified about public speaking, but you’ve got that event coming up next month when you’ll be talking to a crowd. Or maybe you’re moving from a 9-5 job with salary and benefits to being your own boss, with all of the unpredictability that comes with that style of work.
But here’s the secret -- if you’re comfortable, you’re not growing. If you want to have a dynamic career, a successful business, or a life that’s truly about your passions, you’ve got to continually expand your comfort zone. Your business will never outgrow you, and the more you grow, the more limitless your potential.
As people, we’re always changing. Think back to who you were in high school. Maybe you were afraid of not passing your driving test, or nervous about stepping into the shoes of the team captain. Today, you drive your car every day without thinking of it, and maybe now you’re the coach for your kid’s sports team.
The same rules apply when it comes to your business. If you’re a new entrepreneur, everything from opening up a business bank account to calling prospects might be scary.
But if you don’t expand your comfort zone, your business will never grow beyond the limits of your fears.
So how do you take action? How do you break down barriers and start to shift your comfort zone to prepare for growth and expansion?
Here are a few things to try.
Acknowledge your uncertainties.
We’ve all got them. Whether you’re uncomfortable talking to strangers, or you struggle to follow through on your goals, some things are going to be challenging for you. This is where a coach can be a great resource, but you can also make some great strides on your own. Write down the hardest thing for you right now. No, really... Do it right now.
Now, think about what growth looks like -- to you.
Once you’ve identified the biggest thing holding you back, think about what breaking through this barrier would look like. If you’re afraid to pick up the phone, maybe success is simply making one call a day. Think about how you can set yourself up for a positive experience. Can you identify 5 prospects who you know will receive your call with love, and listen to you without judgment? Can you ask a mentor or partner to listen in on their calls and hear how they manage communications? Maybe growth looks like taking some time to actually write out what you want to say, so if your brain freezes on the spot, you have notes in front of you to help you out.
Practice, and write down every success.
Researcher Dr. Barbara Fredrickson discovered that experiencing positive emotions in a 3-to-l ratio with negative emotions leads people to a tipping point beyond which they become more resilient to adversity and effortlessly achieve what they once could only imagine. However, our minds tend to get stuck on the negative. We forget about the 4 successful calls we made this week, and only remember the one where we fumbled over our words, didn’t explain ourselves well, or the prospect hung up on us.
By tracking your successful interactions, you’ll start to see a pattern of positivity, and build confidence. This will help you overcome your fears and start to expand your comfort zone, until you no longer give a second thought to what once held you back.
Do it all again.
The funny thing about comfort zones is, they’re always there. Even if you’ve overcome certain fears and built new skills, you’ll still have something that’s holding you back. So, moving your comfort zone is a continual, step-by-step, never-ending process. And as you grow, it can become a bit more subtle.
Maybe your comfort zone today isn’t about the basics of building your business, but it’s the small voice that tells you “I’ve already come so far, there’s nowhere else to go.” Maybe it’s the reluctance to reach out to that intimidating prospect (from that dreaded “chicken list”) or to take on a new role as a coach or mentor yourself.
The same principles that got you where you are today will support you as you continue to build. So take some time as the year comes to a close to think about what’s holding you back, and how you’ll set yourself up to break through some barriers in the new year.
I’ll be here on the blog in the coming weeks to share some more detailed thoughts on setting goals and taking action, so I’d love to hear about what you’re aiming to overcome. Share in the comments here, or use #TRAKstar on social, so your fellow entrepreneurs can support and learn from you. And as always, thanks for being a part of our Traktivity community!