How to move beyond your comfort zone
2 Tips from Joe St Clair
How to move beyond your comfort zone
Moving out of your ‘comfort zone’ is not always easy. It’s important to acknowledge this fact right up front because most of my other 100 tips are actually much easier to achieve, requiring only a little effort but producing real tangible results. Having the courage and commitment to move out of your comfort zone however, produces massive results – and that’s why it is so central to TLF.
1 Push your limts
Our comfort zone is the cocoon that we put around ourselves to protect us from the unknown – it’s our security blanket, our refuge and the place to which we retreat when the going gets tough. In employment terms it is the key skills, qualifications and experience that we include on our CV’s. It is the part of the day job that we can do with our eyes closed – because we have spent years mastering our craft whether we are doctors, accountants, lawyers, taxi drivers or shop assistants. Our comfort zone feels secure – and it stays secure as long as we don’t attempt anything stupid like trying to push beyond its boundaries and end up in the scary place called the ‘unknown zone’. Make sense?
The trouble is that when we study those people that we envy – those who have led exceptional, rewarding and fulfilling lives a pattern starts to emerge. Most of the high achievers and those who have reached their goals have something in common. They somehow found the courage to move out of their comfort zones into the unknown and faced whatever challenges stood in their way. Just read any biography of a person you admire and you will find the same underlying truth – those who succeed in achieving their heart’s desire had to leave their comfort zone at some time in their lives. They had to break free of their normal patterns of behaviour and face the unknown – usually with only one tool to see them through – their own inner confidence. And sometimes the choice can be rather stark – stay in your comfort zone where you will be safe, but in a prison of your own making, or break out of your comfort zone and rely on your own self-belief and integrity to help you face up to whatever the ‘unknown’ may bring.
Think about it. Every time you start a new job, a new relationship, a new sport or a new routine you are expanding your horizons and moving out of your comfort zone. And once the new situation becomes familiar you wonder why you were ever nervous in the first place!
Finding true TLF is just the same – you have goals you want to achieve and a lifestyle you want to live. Some goals are achievable with a little effort but others demand that you move out of your comfort zone in order to achieve them. And that can be tough.
There is no secret formula here. It’s about recognising the limits you have set for yourself and being prepared to push those limits to meet your life goals. It takes courage and commitment but the sacrifice is worth it. Every time you leave your comfort zone you grow as a person, you acquire new skills and a new level of self-confidence. And the more you push the more you can achieve. Try it. Prove to yourself that it really works – and never ever look back.
Set aside some time to think critically about your life in terms of your current ‘comfort zones’.
Think about the boundaries that you have not yet crossed because it’s safer to stay where you are. Take a pen and paper and jot down or draw a list of things that you would like to achieve at home, at work, at leisure etc. and then think about what is holding you back. Choose one boundary from your list and then make a firm commitment to yourself that this week you are going to push that boundary as far as you possibly can. Set a precise time, date and location and then focus on the result you want to achieve. Keep pushing yourself until the boundary has been crossed and then congratulate yourself on your achievement. Next week do the same for the next boundary on your list.
2 The Importance of good communication
Anthony Robbins is one of the world’s greatest personal development gurus, a regular conference speaker and a writer of best-selling motivational books. And all of his books contain the same extremely important message that, for many people, makes more and more sense the more you think about it. His message is simply this – “The quality of your life is the quality of your communication”
This is quite a profound message when you think about it – and from experience I have found this to be absolutely true. Every single day of our lives we communicate – socially, at work, with partners and children, with shopkeepers and telesales callers, with strangers and with friends – the list goes on. Every individual has a unique style of communication that has developed over the years based on all sorts of cultural, parental, educational and social experiences and influences. So why is it that some people are excellent communicators that exude charisma, keep us captivated by their words and demand our respect? And why are other people such poor communicators that we find it hard to understand what they are trying to communicate to us, use limited vocabulary and find it hard to hold our attention?
The answer to these questions would probably take a whole book and would miss the key point that is being made here. The key point is that the way you are viewed or judged by others in the community is largely based on the quality of your communication – and it is as much about the way you communicate as the words you actually use! Good communication is a skill that needs to be recognised, understood, practiced regularly and used effectively.
Every one of us can make small changes to our style of communication in order to improve our ability to communicate. If we talk too much we can practice restraint and listening skills.
If we talk too loud or too soft we can practice adjusting the volume. If we are not particularly articulate we can learn by listening more to the words other people use in situations. If we anger quickly we can learn to take deep breaths and relax before responding. There are literally hundreds of ways to make small but significant changes to improve the quality of our communication and by learning from the techniques used by top communicators.
But the most important point is this. If you do take the time and trouble to improve the quality of your communication the rewards are truly amazing. Job interviews become much easier. People will ask your opinion more. Friends will value your thoughts about things. People’s respect for you will grow enormously. Partners will listen more attentively.
If you are really serious about wanting to improve the quality of your life then take this simple tip to heart – improve the quality of your communication – improve your life.
In what ways do you think you could improve?
Everyone can improve the quality of their communication with a little thought and effort. Think about the ways in which you currently communicate (verbally at home and at work, on the phone, in written communications, e-mails etc.) In what ways do you think you could improve?
A good test is to record the sound of your own voice then play it back and judge it critically. Is your voice clear, precise, confident? Or is there room for improvement? Ask your friends for advice – do you overuse certain phrases? Do you mispronounce any particular words? Does your accent ‘get in the way’? Take note of your own thoughts and the advice of others then make a real effort to tackle any problem areas. Next time you are in a social situation listen to yourself speaking and be your own judge. More importantly listen closely to the voice, tone and words of good communicators around you. Try and learn from them and use what you have learned. The more you practice this exercise the more natural it will become.