In recent weeks I’ve talked about how I try to leave my comfort zone and I’ve encouraged you to do the same. Finding where I’m not comfortable and doing my best to put myself in that realm helps me see things through a new lens. If we’re always doing the same things, we’re never experiencing new tastes or discovering new passions, we’re just comfortable in our own little worlds.
My previous posts on leaving my comfort zone have been individual situations that I’ve put myself into and how I felt I grew from them. Around the first of the year I realized that leaving my comfort zone wasn’t just something I could do once and then hop back into safety. If I was going to push myself to be uncomfortable, I needed to continually put myself out there instead of periodically doing so after I calculated the risks. Here are some of the things I’ve done in the previous weeks to live where I haven’t yet been.
- New Foods – Each time I go to the grocery store I get a new food that I’ve never prepared. Some I haven’t eaten, and some I just want to prepare. It’s a good lesson on cooking and it’s fun to learn how to incorporate new tastes into everyday life.
- Said, “No” – We all want to please our friends and family, so saying no can be hard for many of us. I’m no different, I never want to miss a thing. I had to tell my friends, “No” this week because I couldn’t help them build their brand (hilarious gym shirts). I have to avoid spreading myself too thin, I only have so many hours in a day to work on what matters most and I had to do something I wasn’t totally comfortable with. I risked alienating friends, but ultimately I decided that I have to make sacrifices: they understood and there’s no hard feelings.
- Networking Events – Ever been to an after-hours business networking event? Nobody knows you and you have to pitch who you are and what you do to 30+/- people that you’ve never met. For some, that’s not so bad. And even for me a year ago when I had a job and I was secure in it, this wouldn’t have been bad. But as I am starting to pitch myself as marketing consultant and business coach, I was extremely uncomfortable. I have never done that, I don’t have business cards (a cardinal sin at networking events), and I wasn’t even sure what to say. I’m glad I went, I made some great contacts even with an awkward pitch, and I became more comfortable in my own skin.
- Pitching & Closing a Client – As you can gather, since I’ve never even told someone I am a marketing consultant and business coach, I’ve never pitched someone on my services either. That changed this week as well. Once again, I put myself out there and I was rewarded. If I never made that leap, I wouldn’t have been able to harvest the reward of my first client.
- Volunteering – I talked about volunteering with the Alzheimer’s Association last week, but that was from a cushy office and is more fundraising than than volunteering. Saturday afternoon I helped 12 other people feed the homeless in downtown Charleston. It was as rewarding as it was sad. I looked for ways to write about it, but I don’t want to come across as ‘holier than thou’ with all these volunteer posts. Just know that I was well outside of my comfort zone, but at the end of the day I felt that I gave back just a bit and my soul felt good for doing so.
- Even for Fun – Since I’ve talked about this so much, my girlfriend Katie decided we’d do all new things for my birthday on Saturday night: go to a New Restaurant, see an Improv Comedy Show, and visit a New Watering Hole. All were new and all lead to great experiences with awesome people. It wasn’t the same old same old, and we found something new and awesome to do in Charleston with the comedy show.
In Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business,he argues that our brains slow down or even go into auto-pilot when we engage in a habit loop. Think about the last time you drove somewhere, do you remember all of the exact steps you took from leaving the house, to locking the door, to opening the car door and starting the engine? Probably not, you just did it out of muscle memory.
Now if we’re constantly in auto-pilot, our bodies and minds are not being challenged. We are not paying attention to each of the little details around us. Now think back to the first time you drove a car, how exhilarating was that for you? Your senses were peaked to attention and you noticed every little thing around you. That’s what happens to us when we’re out of our comfort zone. Our minds peak up and we take in these new events for the first time with a fresh view: sounds are more clear, colors are more vivid, and we study the details of the situation.
For me it helps to have these new experiences to write about but more so for my personal growth. I am embarking on an entrepreneurial journey that is going to require that I get out of my comfort zone and stay there to be successful. None of us gets better when we’re comfortable, we grow when we’re in new territory. When we spend time here, we are able to learn from it and gain confidence from it to keep stepping out.
CHALLENGE: Get out of your comfort zone this week, do something you’ve never done before, even if it’s buying new groceries. I’d love to hear about it, come back and leave me a comment with what you did to get uncomfortable.
Thanks for reading, have a great week!