We all want to change our lives in one way or another, right? Who wouldn’t want more or better in terms of wealth, relationships, relaxation and balance in their lives. You may have a very clear idea of what that ‘bigger life’ could look like, but just haven’t yet figured out how to get there. Or you may simply have a feeling there’s something new awaiting for you, but it’s not yet clear what it is. If you are trying to overthink your next step, the chances are that it is your comfort zone that is holding you back.
We meet women with big ideas and the deep yearning for change at DrivenWoman. And our mission is to help each one of those dreams become a reality one day.
Meet Monica, who wants to open her own beauty salon. Her greatest fear is that if she leaves her full time job as a beauty therapist in an upmarket spa, she may fail and loose the monetary security her current job provides. This is a common fear and it is a good idea to keep your job as long as you can before letting go of that security. However, with a little bit of clever planning and perhaps asking to start working part time, she could start building her own client base as a mobile therapist.
Meet Rachel, a current PhD student. Her vision is to have her own practise and to help others. However, she feels safe when studying and her PhD is not progressing as fast as it should because she is avoiding posting her academic papers. Studying can offer a safe heaven inside her comfort zone as she’s not exposed to criticism. If you want to realise your vision for your ‘bigger life’ there’s only one route: you have to start doing things – rather than just reading about them – so that your comfort zone stops holding you back.
Comfort zone and fear of exposure
We are all afraid to expose ourselves to potential criticism or perceived failure. Most of us tend to stay in our comfort zone as we try to solve our next step by overanalysing it. Women tend to want to know we are going to perform any new project or action perfectly before we even start. And that’s why women don’t take as many risks. Stepping outside your comfort zone is risky business!
So we stay stuck, overthinking and hoping that something changes without our input. We wish we could do new things and change our lives without giving up our safety net, but it is rarely possible.
What you should do instead is to start working on your vision and then break it down into goals and short term tasks. (DrivenWoman has a well proven process for figuring that out!). Unless some of your tasks are outside of your comfort zone you will be be running round in circles not taking the vital steps in the direction of your goals.
If you think your comfort zone is holding you back, get clear with these three points:
1) What is inside your comfort zone?
We should always start from where we are now. You can do this by accepting and understanding your position at the present moment. In this case, it is important to know what things and actions are inside your comfort zone. What are the actions you like doing, hoping these will get you to your goals? How do you react to life’s challenges? What is your ‘default’ way of solving problems? What do you say ‘no’ to (always), but have a tingling feeling inside you that tells you that you should say ‘yes’? What are you afraid of loosing?
2) What must change for your life to change?
Our growth stalls when we start holding onto habits and behaviours that made us successful in the first place. A career that was exciting ten years ago may provide very little chances for learning if you haven’t actively taken on new challenges. What was once a source for growth has become something that is holding you back. In other words, what got you here won’t get you there! You have become successful (up to a point) despite of your shortcomings and the fact you are staying within your comfort zone.
If you want to live your visionary future you must disrupt the pattern you are repeating. To move forward it’s time to dip your toes into some new waters. But there’s no need to panic, stepping out of your comfort zone can be practical rather than scary.
3) What can you do to practise exposure?
I had to come out of my comfort zone big time when I started DrivenWoman. I was a branding consultant and did great work with world-class clients. What did DrivenWoman had to do with anything I had done before? The answer was, nothing. DrivenWoman was originally a very personal journey for me. I was putting my whole self right on the line and I had to fully expose myself to get it off the ground. I knew I’d be open for judgement and potential failure.
But a funny thing happened. As soon as I stepped out of my comfort zone I no longer cared about what people thought of me. As I became more vulnerable, I freed myself from the expectations of others and now I’m able to do what ever I want with my life. Failure no longer scares me as I’ve learned that to be free you cannot let fear govern you.
There’s no short cut.
There is no other way, than breaking the conventional thoughts about yourself. It’s time to disrupt some of the beliefs you have about yourself. Women when unsure often start overthinking things and we freeze due to overwhelm or lack of confidence. The only way to move past that is to start doing and learn that you build confidence with every step you take, whether those steps are perfect or not.
Miisa Mink, DrivenWoman Managing Partner