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Stop getting in your own way – Step out of your comfort zone

The past few weeks I have lacked motivation and felt frustrated as I have not been making much progress towards my goals. I tried a number of things to re-ignite my motivation to achieve my goals but everything I tried seemed to be short-lived.
However, the past 3 days, two things happened to re-ignite my motivation. The first was attending the One Hand Can’t Clap monthly forum on Saturday. Attending the forum always leaves me feeling inspired and starts me thinking about actions I need to take in my own life and listening to the speaker’s stories always inspires me. Listening to the speakers this Saturday made me realise the two main reasons for my lack of progress. Firstly, the past few weeks I have settled into my comfort zone. Secondly, I have some major distractions in my daily life.

In this blog I will talk about how settling into my comfort zone has restricted my progress in achieving my goals. I will talk about the affect of the distractions in a separate blog.

So, you may be asking, what is wrong with settling into your comfort zone? We all like to be comfortable don’t we? Well, that maybe true when talking about a sofa or an airplane seat or even a mattress, however, with regards to making progress in life and achieving our goals, our comfort zone can act more like a prison and cause enormous discomfort in the medium to long term. And sometimes as with me, even in the short term.

Since making the decision to take voluntary redundancy a year ago, I can say that since then, the majority of the time I have been living outside of my comfort zone. I left a job and an industry where I was on a salary that was guaranteed every month and meant I could live a comfortable lifestyle. I knew the job well and could do my job comfortably. It was a relatively easy commute so I was also comfortable getting to and from work. I had lots of friends there so actually being at work was comfortable. However, I didn’t actually enjoy the work I was doing anymore and so when the offer of voluntary redundancy came up, although I was extremely comfortable in my job, I had to take a huge leap out of my comfort zone to try and find something that would make me happy.

I have been living outside of my comfort zone now for the best part of a year. The first four months after taking redundancy were the most uncomfortable for me. My initial feelings were freedom and excitement however these quickly became diluted and almost washed away with fear and anxiety. Had I made the right decision? What if I didn’t get another job? After all the country was in the middle of a recession! I had people asking me daily if I had found a job yet but I wasn’t looking for another full time job – was that a mistake? Luckily I have a wonderful coach – Lorlett Hudson, Director of One Hand Can’t Clap – who supported me through the whole process from making the decision to take the redundancy. She helped me to find clarity about what it was I wanted and reminded me of the reasons I chose to take redundancy. To setup my own business, be my own boss, design and live my life according to my rules and most importantly maintain my health and become financially free.

So with Lorlett’s support I continued to live outside of my comfort zone. This meant I had to do things I never had to do before, like look for work opportunities in the completely new areas of education and youth work. I began networking and talking to people about what I wanted to do. I began looking for opportunities in the area of youth and education. Once I embraced living outside of my comfort zone, opportunities started appearing. I was given the opportunity to work in a Youth Offending Team as a mentor for 12 weeks by Genevieve Knight, Director of MYPAL. During this time I met Steve Beckles-Ebusua, Director of Serious Intentions and as a result delivered a programme for Steve in a school for 12 weeks once we finished work at the Youth Offending Team. Through the work in the school I met Olivia Flaxman, Director of Oliviaworks. Olivia’s partner owns a company, Future Foundations, that delivers personal development programmes to young people and next week I am attending a meeting to find out about providing coaching and mentoring for their programmes. The major thing that happened was that I applied for a job in a school as an Aimhigher Coordinator. Two other candidates were interviewed for the job and they both had years of experience teaching and advising young people on careers – I had no school experience. I was offered the job and as a result I am now studying a Post Graduate Careers Guidance certificate, fully funded by the school and will be doubling my hours to support the implementation of a careers guidance strategy for the sixth form.

These are just some of the opportunities that have presented themselves to me since making the decision to step outside of my comfort zone. The most important consequence of stepping out of my comfort zone is my personal growth. I have grown so much as a person and I have not only developed many of my existing skills, I have also learned many new skills, which as a result opens up even more opportunities.

For me, that is the most important thing about stepping out of your comfort zone. As long as you remain in your comfort zone you stop growing. You become so comfortable that you do not think to try anything new and even if you do, you are too scared to try because it involves stepping outside of your comfort zone. However, as was the case for me, there is such a thing as being TOO comfortable and when this happens, you actually become UNcomfortable. You become unhappy, frustrated, angry and resentful. Sometimes this can be enough to push you out of your comfort zone, however for most this is when our comfort zone becomes a prison because we are too scared to take that first step.

“If you stop searching, you stop living, because then you’re dwelling in the past. If you’re not reaching forward to any growth or future, you might as well be dead.” -Wynn Bullock

This is what has happened to me recently. I had no urgent need to earn money. I had no immediate need to gain another contract or job. So I became comfortable. Instead of taking another step forward, I took a step back and that step took me back into my comfort zone. This is because your comfort zone never leaves you. It is always just one step behind you. Don’t get me wrong, we all have days when all we want to do is be comfortable, take a break, rest and take our foot of the accelerator. This is normal. However, you have to be careful that you do not stay in your comfort zone for too long otherwise the fear of moving forward will set in again and your comfort zone will again become a prison.

So what can you do to get start moving in the right direction again and find the courage to take that step forward out of your comfort zone?

Well, this brings me onto the second thing that happened to me. Monday was the most beautiful day, possibly the hottest day of the year so far. It followed a day that was just as, if not more beautiful than Monday. Sunday evening many of my friends were complaining that they had to go to work the next day and that Monday was going to be the last hot day we would have for the foreseeable future and so were understandably unhappy about having to go to work and be stuck in the office all day. I did not feel like this at all as I knew due to the way I had now designed my life it meant that as long as I had my laptop, my office could be wherever I wanted it to be and on Monday I chose for my office to be in the garden. I spent most of Monday working in the garden, enjoying the beautiful weather. I stopped to read my book and top up my tan now and then and not once did I worry that my lunch break was almost over or that the boss was going to pull me up about being out in the sun too long. This alone was enough to remind me why I had chosen to take that huge step outside of my comfort zone and re-ignited the motivation I needed to take the necessary actions to start making progress towards my goals again.
This is a very important point to note. As I said earlier in this blog, I had tried many things to re-ignite my motivation which had worked in the short term but there is a major difference between feeling motivated and being motivated to take action.

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie

So how do you take that all important step out of your comfort zone and how do you maintain the motivation to keep moving forward? Here are a few things that work for me:

  • Know what you want and why you want it. What will it give you?

This is vital. Write down your goals and for each goal ask yourself why you want to achieve that goal and exactly what it will give you. For example, “I want to be financially free because it will give me the freedom to spend less time working and more quality time with my family by taking them out for nice meals.” Once you have all your goals written down and know why you want them, look at them every day to remind yourself why you are doing what you’re doing.

  • Practice and make it real

For me, that day in the garden is what really worked. Regularly give yourself a “day in the life of your future”. So if one of your goals is financial freedom so you can spend more quality time with your family having nice meals. Once a month take your family out for a nice meal. This will give you the actual feeling you are striving for and will make you want it more.

  • Get yourself a coach and surround yourself with people who share your passion for success and that are actually taking action towards achieving that success

As I said above, having Lorlett as a coach not only gives me support when I am lacking confidence or doubting my own ability. She also helps me gain clarity about why it is I’m doing what I’m doing. Attending her monthly forum surrounds me with like-minded people who are all in action moving forward to achieve their own personal goals. Talking to them and hearing their stories are inspirational and motivate me to also achieve my personal goals and give me the belief that I can.

“If you have the courage to step outside of your comfort zone, you will not only be amazed by the marvel and sights of the world, but also with the wonders that lay deep within yourself” – Rosanna Ienco

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