Your Next Big Step
Tools for taking risks and stepping outside your comfort zone.
By Jessica McCormick
We're into our second month of the new year. With it follows the renewal and revitalization of goals and dreams for the year to come. It could mean the creation of a new business endeavour, reaching new heights in your financial life, or creating new relationships; whatever the case may be for you, stepping out of your comfort zone as you take risks will help you create a bigger, brighter future. Stepping outside of your comfort zone is exactly that: uncomfortable, and it often requires you to face fears, and parts of yourself that may have laid dormant or unexplored in the known parts of your life. It’s easy to let the discomfort of growth, risk and change make us want to give up and retreat into the easy reality that we know. So, what can we do to push through the resistance and successfully move into a bigger, brighter future? In this article, you’ll learn some simple tools for taking risks and stepping outside of your comfort zone this year.
1. Make a plan
When taking on a new challenge, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the gargantuousness of what it is we’re trying to achieve. However, by breaking down your goal into a super small step-by-step plan, you can decrease the pressure that a large goal may cause. A great tool for creating a foolproof plan is to chunk your goal down into bite size pieces that only take 1-2 hours to complete. You can map these steps out by creating a list in an excel spreadsheet or in some other creative template, and adding the amount of time you estimate each step will take. Then simply focus on each step and the amount of time needed to complete it.
2. Just focus on the step in front of you
As I said before, it can be easy to get overwhelmed when we are moving out of our comfort zone and taking on goals or challenges in our lives. So the second tool for success is just to focus on the step that is in front of you. It is said that the way we do the little things in life often tells the tale of how we do the big things in life. So focus on the step in front of you and do it well. Don’t look too far ahead, just do what’s in front of you, do it with greatness and build your big, bright future one brick at a time.
3. Feel the fear and do it anyway
It’s normal for us to feel fear when we are moving outside of our comfort zone, in fact, it’s to be expected. Fear is the indicator that lets us know we are moving outside ourselves and into the unknown. The trick however, is not to dwell in the fear and get stuck. As quickly as you can, take some action towards accomplishing what it is you are afraid of. It’s like ripping off a band aid or jumping into cold water… the fear only gets stronger the longer you wait. But as soon as you take the plunge, you realize that you really had nothing to fear in the first place.
4. Get moving
While it’s great to pause, reflect and refine how we move forward, the most important thing is that we get moving in the first place. So don’t get too caught up on the ‘how’ and just get moving in any way you can. Maybe it’s getting out to the gym to get your blood pumping, maybe it’s getting out and meeting someone new. Think of an action you can take, and take it. Just keep moving and before you know it you’ll be on the road to success.
5. Model a master
You’ve heard it before but I’ll say it again, success leaves clues. That’s right, there are others that have gone before you and achieved success in exactly the area that you are looking to dive into. So rather than going it alone and reinventing the wheel, take time to find others who have already succeeded in what you are trying to do and look at what they did. If the steps they took worked for them, then chances are some or all of them will work for you too. Of course it’s important to follow your own path, but don’t be afraid to model others along the way. Even the greatest leaders have teachers.
6. Surround yourself with success
We have all heard the saying, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” The truth is that the people we surround ourselves with truly impact us. This isn’t to say we ought to discard people we care about, but if you are looking to move out of your comfort zone and into a new room of success in your life, it’s important to surround yourself with other people who are going to be supportive. Perhaps it’s joining a networking group of some kind or a sports team with other successful athletes. Think of how you’re looking to grow in your life and then find ways to surround yourself with others who are doing the same. You’ll find that when you are around others who are more successful than you in some way, it will not only inspire you to raise the bar in your own life, but will show you creative ways to get there.
7. Know that it’s never the right time
Another tool when you’re taking risks and stepping outside of your comfort zone is to know that it’s never going to be a good time. That’s why so many people never start. There are always going to be reasons why you don’t have enough money, don’t have the time, or don’t feel ready. But part of taking risks is going outside your sense of security and comfort and stepping into the unknown. Of course we don’t want what we’re doing to put us in harm’s way physically or economically, but if you have a sound plan and the means to achieve your goal then take the leap and start.
8. Let go and trust
It is natural when we are taking on new risks and challenges to want to control every outcome. But the trick is to do your best and then to let go and trust that if you’ve done everything you can that life will support you. Know that you can’t control everything, and that control really isn’t where the magic comes from anyway. Part of stepping out of your comfort zone is getting used to the unknown, being willing to do things differently, being open to an idea that you would have never considered before. Be flexible; be willing to be curious and have fun in the process.
9. Learn from failure
Just as it is important for us to learn from success, so too is it important for us to learn from failure. It’s true failing isn’t fun, but it is an important part of the path to success. Did you know that Thomas Edison failed 1,000 times before successfully inventing the light bulb? What if he had given up? Would you tell a toddler who is having trouble walking, “Oh, well maybe this just isn’t for you”? Of course you wouldn’t. You’d encourage the child and tell it to keep going. This is the same with failure in our own lives. It’s important to see failure as an important place for us to learn about what doesn’t work, what we don’t like, and then try again in another way.
10. Be compassionate to yourself
The last tool when taking risks and stepping outside of your comfort zone is to be compassionate to yourself. The fact that you are trying something new in the first place and are facing your fears is huge. Remember to be patient with yourself, after all, studies show that installing a new habit takes 30 full days until it becomes part of your subconscious. So know that moving outside of your comfort zone will feel uncomfortable. Know that you will be faced with new fears and that you will most likely want to give up and quit at some point. Give yourself compassion in these moments by knowing that you are simply growing, and reassure yourself as you would reassure a friend that it’s going to be ok, and that you are proud of the steps you are taking to move outside the box into a bigger and brighter future.