Ep. 116 How to step out of your comfort zone

how step out your comfort zone

In today’s episode, Anna looks at how to step out of your comfort zone and into your growth zone – while avoiding the dreaded panic zone.

Focusing on growth rather than comfort can be an incredibly empowering perspective. A perspective of growth gives us a more positive outlook as even the worst situations offer opportunities to grow; it’s future focused, as every new situation is a fresh opportunity and our past doesn’t have to determine our future; and it means that we are taking responsibility for our own experiences, creating the life we want with each opportunity that we grasp.

*Resources mentioned during the episode*

The One Step Outside Facebook group– Join us over in the Facebook group to meet like-minded people who are working on reimagining success in their life and business and to get access to direct support and free training sessions from Anna. www.facebook.com/groups/onestepoutside



How to step out of your comfort zone


So did you do the thing that I asked you to do last week? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, last week’s episode was all around just doing it. Just make like Nike and do the damn thing. Do that thing that you’ve been hesitating about for a really long time. And if you haven’t got in touch, if you haven’t listened to the episode, I’d love for you to do that. And let me know, you can tag me on social media, send me a private message, or you can email at podcastatonestepoutside.com. I would love to hear if you took that action and give you that extra little accountability as well, which can be so powerful.

Now related to this, this week, I wanted to bring to life a concept which I’ve talked about in the past, but I think it’s been a while and I think it’s so core, it’s so powerful that I wanted to get into it again here on the podcast. And that is this idea of getting out of your comfort zone, and you may have heard that quote. It is exactly what I have built my business on. In fact, it’s on the wall behind me. You see that in my videos usually. Everything you’ve ever wanted is one step outside your comfort zone, everything you’ve ever wanted is one step outside your comfort zone. Now this is a quote I came across some years ago when I was doing my coaching training and certification back in 2014, 2015.

I actually developed this as what we called my power tools. So the idea of growth versus comfort, I juxtapose those two ideas and how you can get out of that comfort zone and into that growth zone on the one hand.

And it was also my specific bespoke coaching model, very much based around this that I developed as part of that training. So it has always been the foundation of the work I’ve done. And I have lots of frameworks I’ve developed on top of that. And it was a lot of the initial work I did was quite broadly around getting out of your comfort zone, setting those goals, challenging yourself, and so on. So really, it’s fundamental to what I believe. It’s fundamental to what I think will make the biggest difference for so many of you as it has done for me.

So I want to get into this a little bit more. So if you haven’t come across this concept before, or maybe you just want that little reminder, then listen up. So if you can imagine, and I have a graphic on this, if you’re interested email me at podcast@onestepoutside.com or get in touch wherever we’re already perhaps in contact on social, and then I can send a graphic just so you can visualise it. But imagine if you will, there’s a circle at the centre of this graphic and that is your comfort zone. That’s where you are now. Now, if you have been many years in the same industry, same role, same relationship, same country, city, village, a lot of consistency, same basically something in particular. Of course, I talk about that same corporate job and role and that same sort of conveyor belt path, then it may be, and it’s likely that comfort zone will be quite small, it will shrink around us.

Ironically, when we come straight out of university, we’re full of ambition and confidence and so on. And then for whatever reason as we gain experience and knowledge, for many of us that comfort zone shrinks.

Maybe you’ve been off on parental leave and coming back into the workforce, then suddenly you’re worried, and you haven’t been to meetings, and haven’t been in that corporate environment. Maybe after working from home a long time with the whole COVID situation, as I record now, maybe coming back to the office after these lockdowns and so on, you’re again feeling nervous and that comfort zone will have shrunk. Even from a lifestyle perspective, it’s very easy for me to worry now, I wouldn’t say worry, but I can imagine beginning to worry about getting out of my very comfortable routine of hardly seeing anybody, in fact, and leaving the house once a day to go for a walk.

My baby here I’ve had at home, of course, very easy to keep him quiet… Well, it’s too early to have a routine, but certainly pretty regular, very easy to put him down for naps and take him out for a walk and so on. Those things would be much harder once locked down is ending. And we, once again live our lives, as of course we want to, but as you can imagine, my comfort zone has shrunk very much as I’m sure it has for many of you and from a lifestyle perspective to that now we’re just from working from home, literally we’re in our pyjamas. We may not even be putting makeup on or washing our hair, which I think we should do personally. But we’re not necessarily going out there and having the confidence and the connections and so on, right? Interactions with people, and that can very easily limit our comfort zone.

So back to that graphic, we’ve got that circle in the middle of the page which is the comfort zone, around that is the growth zone. And that, of course, is the exciting place where I’m encouraging you to be. And you’re probably there tentatively or confidently already. You’re listening to this podcast. You may be part of my other communities, you’re clearly taking steps towards your personal development. And that is a sign that you’re really focusing on that learning growth development. And that’s really powerful. So there’s that growth zone around the comfort zone. Importantly, we’re not going to stop there because there’s another zone. There’s this sort of infinite universe beyond, which is the panic zone, the red warning, warning. That’s not where we want to be.

So let’s look at each of these intensely. So coming back to the comfort zone and I’ll pull up my graphic here so I can see it as well. And as I said, I’m happy to send this to you. Of course, there are lots of advantages to staying in that comfort zone or at least to being in that comfort zone, safety, security, stability, comfort, confidence, although within a limited framework, right? Sense of control, routine. You have that habit. You have a sense of ease because I’ve done this. I can do this in my sleep. I’m really comfortable in my PJ’s, I’ve come to in this role. Everybody knows me. They respect me. They know I’m great.

So actually I can come into the office a bit later. They already know that I am good at my job. And so I don’t have to be constantly proving myself. I’m seen as an expert and so on, right? So that’s the positive side. And there are many positives. And by the way, understanding that is also going to help you to understand why you’re not leaving that conversation because there’s a lot that you’re giving up there potentially. So those are lots of positives. However, there are some negatives and for some people at some points in your life, that safety security isn’t a positive thing. It’s something that drags you down, maybe you feel sort of restricted. You’re bored, you’re stagnating, you’re frustrated. You’re doubting yourself. That self-doubt can really come into play, but average, mediocre in terms of the life you’re living and the fear of regrets. Really, I haven’t done this. I wish I could do that.

Last week, where I talked about just doing it. And I think staying in that comfort zone is where we’re potentially almost definitely going to have that regret. We’re not doing the things that we so desperately want to do. We’re just staying in that comfort zone and plodding along. So those are the positives and the negatives. And it’s important to understand that [inaudible 00:06:30]. Now this wonderful growth zone, where we want to be, it’s exciting. I tend to say exciting and scary comes together. So it’s a little bit nerve-wracking as well. We have that sense of anticipation, possibility, opportunity as we take action. Again, as I said last week, we increase our confidence. We’ll learn new things. It feels new and exciting. We’ll have that adrenaline going. We’ll be self-improving ourselves. And that’s just a really vibrant place to be learning, growing, meeting people, starting new things, getting better at things, achieving things, right? That’s the powerful growth zone, where we want to be.

Then we get to the panic zone. Now, if we take a step that’s too much, too soon, I guess we can, yes, get into that still exciting space, which is the potential panic zone.

Some of us may like the exhilaration, the risk-taking and so on. However, you might really experience extreme stress and anxiety and lack of control because my gosh, I have no idea what I’m doing. I feel completely alone and abandoned and frightened. And this is not at all the positive thing that I was hoping for. Excessive risk, way too much risk, a sense of danger is that fight-or-flight that I’m sure you’ve come across many times back in the days when we had the sabre-tooth tiger attacking us, we needed to either stay and fight the tiger, I guess, or runaway or the tribe that was coming over the mountain, right? We needed to have that adrenaline kick.

It’s less useful now when we’re sitting at our desks or we’re trying to do some public speaking or talk to an expert or whatever it is, and we get incredibly nervous and that gets in the way. So excessive risk, danger, and overwhelm that’s the negative side and the panic zone really has mostly negative aspects to it. Now this is very individual. As I said, at the beginning, you can have shrunk… Shrunken, maybe is a grammatically correct way of saying [inaudible 00:08:27], your comfort zone into a small space around you? Maybe that feels really comfortable. Maybe it feels very restrictive and uncomfortable and stagnant, right? So the size of the comfort zone and of course, it’s just an abstract concept. And the feeling you have there is different for different people, different stages of your life and so on.

The growth zone, again, it can look differently. Maybe you’ve always been one for taking risks and investing in your personal development and improving and trying things and throwing yourself in strange situations. And then you’ll growth zone is actually really big. That panic zone is way out there. And in the distance, off the horizon, you can’t really see the panic zone, you rarely take such big steps that you panic. If so, you can just tentatively take those steps back, right? So that’s the growth zone again individuals to how big it is and what that entails. Someone who hasn’t maybe taken so many unconventional, exciting steps and so on, might find that growth zone quite scary as well.

But again, it’s just sort of pushing the boundaries of the comfort zone. We don’t even have to leap over into the grave. So we can just begin to sort of push them, make them a bit more malleable, stretch them, take a little step over here, take a little step over there.

And then again, the panic zone, it might be the panic zone, is way out there in the distance. It might be that you can see it literally a couple of steps away. And you’re just really hovering on that little boundary between the sort of grey zone. And yes, this is exciting. If I go too far, then it’s going to be a disaster.

So it’s an abstract concept as I said, I find it really powerful to think about this. And it helps you to not think in terms of just black and white, which we’ll talk about soon as well here on the podcast. So it’s easy to think either I stay stuck and stagnant here or pretty comfortable and secure in this stable job, everything I know or this relationship or this part of the world, whatever that might be, this type of business that I’m running or I’m over there, and it’s so scary and so extreme and it’s risky and so on, right? We see those two extremes.

However, there are many different steps along that spectrum to begin again tentatively expand that comfort zone, push those boundaries, get into the gravestone, learn, expand that growth zone.

We don’t have to take that massive leap off the cliff into the panic zone. And in fact, we probably shouldn’t, unless you’re one of those people who really thrives on that. And I think few of us really are that reckless. I don’t think that we want to throw ourselves into that alarming red zone either. So bear in mind that you don’t have to do anything. Of course, you don’t have to take these massive leaps. You can start tentatively taking action. And again, as I said last week, just doing it, just taking action is going to create momentum, create more action, create confidence. So again, comfort zone, not so positive that safety security is completely natural, that this is where we are.

And again, I took massive risks. I always have this picture of myself and I’m paddle boarding on the Mississippi some years ago. That feels now like a distant memory. I was going through a phase at the time of doing lots of physical adventures and constantly going out and meeting people I didn’t know when I was single and I was travelling the world and I was starting my business and a lot of risky things like [inaudible 00:11:31], lots of excitement to learning and doing courses and so on, right? Perhaps less so for a while, for whatever reason. Although of course, I’m very much growing as a mother, as a business owner, as a partner, and so on. So there’s different types of growth as well.

And then hopefully now in the coming years, I’ll be again, maybe giving myself a little bit of a push as well to once again, after lockdown, after the kids are a little bit older and so I’m pushing myself again to start going, “Okay, Hey, actually, this is what I’d like to do. And how can I really step things up in my business beyond where I am now?” And as we’ll also be looking at in a few weeks’ time, what got me here won’t get me there as the saying goes. And so that’s once again that we can’t just stay on that comfortable track and I’ll just keep doing these same posts on Instagram. I’ll just run the same service with my clients because the world is evolving. Your clients are moving on, you have to as well, otherwise you’re going to be left behind. So comfort zone, lots of positives, but also potentially really stagnant, frustrating, and uncomfortable ironically.

Then we have the [inaudible 00:12:31] zone; it’s really the optimal zone to be in. And you can be closer to your comfort zone, further away, whatever you feel comfortable with, you can sort of calibrate, I guess, back and forth. You’ll be learning new skills, meeting new people, facing challenges. And yes, again, a little bit scary, but exciting is sort of the bigger balance, I guess is more exciting than frightening. And by the way, it’s fine now to head back to the comfort zone. One metaphor, which I had with a coach, I can’t remember who of us came up with it. It was a partnership really, so it doesn’t really matter. But we came up with this idea that I had been flying too freely because I was single and no relationship.

I had no job. I had no home, essentially everything was so up in the air that I was sort of fluttering around in space. And I was just too far off the ground. So what I wanted to do was not to go back to the ground. I didn’t want to go back to my comfort zone all the way. I just wanted to land on a branch of a tree and take a breath, stay there for a little bit. And then I was ready to get off again, right? So it was for me, very important to keep going, but not just to fly through space and not have any kind of base, any kind of support I guess, but really to keep now and then, you fly off. Oh, my gosh. Okay. Yeah. I need to maybe withdraw a little bit, consolidate, feel a bit more confident and comfortable, land on that branch and then I’m ready again to fly off to a higher branch and so on, right? So that was an image that helped me, and it might be relevant for you as well.

And again, remember if you’re pushing yourself too far out, I’m all for growing and developing and learning, that doesn’t mean we have to get into that panic zone.

If you are feeling so super stressed and anxious and worried, it means probably you’ve taken it too far. You haven’t got the support network that you need and you haven’t asked for help and you haven’t maybe in the case of [inaudible 00:14:23] businesses or looked at your finances properly, gotten the advice and you haven’t done the due diligence to test your idea before you’ve gone out there and you’ve taken maybe, or you might be feeling like you’re taking unnecessary, excessive risk. So that’s when the panic zone again, maybe come back to that branch or even fly down to the ground and take [inaudible 00:14:41], regroup, and then think, “Okay, wait, hang on a second. What’s the better way to manage this way?”

So again, I can send you this graphic if interested, just let me know. It’s something I developed many years ago. So it’s not something I share more broadly anymore, but I think it’s such a powerful concept. So remember, everything you’ve ever wanted is one step outside your comfort zone. That means that you can do so many things. I think we underestimate what’s possible over time. And again, remember the one step, we don’t have to take a massive leap. We can take that little step and another and another and another, as we gradually expand, stretch that comfort zone, stretch the growth zone and ultimately get to where we want to be without taking those ridiculous risks to our health, to our family life, our finances, whatever it might be.

So I hope that was useful. I hope you share my belief in this idea of the importance of growth and personal development and learning. And I know so many of you do. I think it’s such a powerful perspective. And of course, again, because you’re listening to the podcast, of course, I am going to assume that you understand and believe in the power of listening to different experts and learning different concepts and pushing yourself. So as ever, try to think about how you can apply this idea, have you been feeling… And we talked about this last week as well, have you been feeling a bit stuck and stagnant, whether you’re in that corporate job feeling I’ve been on this path for many years as some of you are, or you’re already a business owner, but actually I’ve been plodding along at this comfortable level now it’s time to hire someone in my team. Oh my goodness, super scary, right? To start paying someone, even if it’s a freelancer.

Begin to outsource or create that new programme, or pitch yourself to the media or work with that higher-level coach, join a mastermind to help you up level in your business. So whatever stage of life, business, career, [inaudible 00:16:26], it’s very easy to once again and get back into a comfort zone. And we just can’t do that. We just can’t stay there in that albeit sort of stable, sort of secure well, because of course, as well, things aren’t as stable and secure as we think we can be shaken to unexpectedly as well as that’s important, much better to be in control of the changes to push ourselves, to disrupt ourselves as the word rather than to allow our employers and the economy and so on to disrupt us. So best of luck with getting out of your comfort zone and I will see you next week. Thanks so much for listening. Bye for now.

If you’re ready to start to reimagine what success could look like for you, here are some of the ways in which Anna can support you:

Get private mentoring for your business – Partnering with a business coach can help you see those blind spots and get both external accountability and expert guidance to take your business to where you want it to be. www.onestepoutside.com/freeconsultation

Get private career coaching – Individual coaching is fully tailored to your specific goals and desires so we can create the programme that works best for you, with the support that you need to move forwards. www.onestepoutside.com/claritycall

Grab a copy of Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5 – After interviewing 50 people who have left the corporate 9 to 5 to forge their own path, Anna has collected their stories in a book that will inspire you with the possibilities that are out there and reassure you that you’re not alone in looking for an alternative. www.leavingthecorporate9to5.com

Join the One Step Outside the 9 to 5 Business Incubator – This is your roadmap to transitioning from a corporate job into setting up a meaningful business that will bring you more freedom, flexibility and fulfilment outside of the corporate 9 to 5. www.onestepoutside.com/9to5

Up-level with The Outsiders Business Accelerator – This is a mastermind for entrepreneurs, freelancers and small business owners who want to create a long-term sustainable brand and business. www.onestepoutside.com/accelerate


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