Breaking the habits, stepping out of the comfort zone
published : 6 Jun 2016 at 07:29
writer: Arinya Talerngsri
Mark Zuckerberg once said, “The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking any risks.”
We all have heard about the comfort zone — that psychological state in which a person feels familiar, at ease, in control and experiences low anxiety and stress. We all have our own comfort zone and certainly we have all heard that it will do more harm than good to stay in there. Instead, by embracing changes and breaking our routine we can eventually create success. Yet, in reality, the mere thought of venturing out of our comfort zone can be intimidating as we are creatures of habit after all.
Sad but true, change has become the new normal, and in an increasingly competitive yet cautious world, those who are willing to change, take risks and step out of their comfort zone and into the discomfort of uncertainty will be those who can reap the most.
So, let’s find out together, in this article, how playing it safe could be curtailing business triumph and why feeling uncomfortable is the critical key to success.
Dr Elizabeth Lombardo, a therapist and author of the book Better Than Perfect, observed that people who habitually look for new experiences tend to be more creative and emotionally resilient than those who remain stuck in routine. This is because innovation often takes place when one avoids stagnation. Moreover, when you let new things happen to you, your body creates a new neural pathway that fuels your creative spark and enhances your memory.
Resilience is another essential trait leading to success; being emotionally resilient means you know how to fight back or regain your composure once you fall and fail. When you are emotionally resilient, you are willing to make mistakes and try something new, and often can accomplish more than what you did before.
If you are a resilient person, you will not let mistakes and setbacks define who you are. Instead, your mindset is telling you that no matter what happens, you can handle it and then you will start opening up to the possibility for new solutions, opportunities, relationships and ideas to bloom.
Simply put, by stepping out of your comfort zone and embracing new changes or challenges, you can improve your performance, creativity and learning in the long run, all of which are critical attributes for success.
I’d say the most challenging part is getting past that initial feeling of wanting to run back to the norm. If you can overcome that challenge, you can grow, develop and benefit from any uneasiness and uncertainty you may feel.
To get you started, here are some useful tricks and tips to manage discomfort:
Do it on a regular basis: To get comfortable with being uncomfortable, you must do it on a regular basis. The more comfortable you get with trying new things and being around the feeling of restlessness, the more you will open up to taking on new challenges.
Reorganise your mind: When you start feeling uncomfortable about something, it is difficult to make a sound decision; thus, my advice is to clear your head and possibly reinterpret your fear. Why not try a “brain dump” — get your ideas out of your head and onto paper instead so that you can physically see them. Then, view them in the new positive light and change your fear into a feeling of excitement with and opportunity. This way, you will start embracing that fear and see it as welcoming rather than something that you seek to avoid.
Start small: You have to be selective about which challenges you want to try and how, when, and why you’re embracing the discomfort of a given situation. The road out of your comfort zone might not be pretty so try or start with small steps. Don’t overwhelm yourself physically and emotionally, and keep in mind that even when not all discomfort serves a positive purpose, what doesn’t kill you will definitely make you stronger one way or another.
Last but not least, I could not agree more with this insightful statement from David Van Rooy, Walmart’s senior director of international human resources strategy and operations: “[i]t is possible to be successful maintaining the status quo, but true differentiation is achievable only for those who are willing to dive into new areas.” So, let’s make a difference today as a first step to becoming successful.
Arinya Talerngsri is Group Managing Director at APMGroup, Thailand's leading Organisation and People Development Consultancy. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or https://www.linkedin.com/pub/arinya-talerngsri/a/81a/53b
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