By August 6, 2013 Read More →

Strategies for succcess – Stepping out of your comfort zone: Part 2

By Anthony Charles, CEO Choices Magazine

Parachute jumpMissed Part 1? – read it here

In part one of this series we found that one of the obstacles that can really hold you back is inaction; staying in a comfort zone.  A comfort zone is a safe place, free of things that make you uncomfortable, scared or embarrassed.  It’s a comfortable place where you can remain and sometimes rationalise or justify your lack of action or progress with a well sounding reason or excuse.

Getting out of a comfort zone is simple but not always easy.  You will be attempting to change what can sometimes be years of learnt behaviour (habits).  And just saying to someone “never mind, it’s all in your head” is about as useful as a chocolate teapot.

Here is a technique I recommend to help you alleviate the stress and discomfort that comes with attempting to get out of a comfort zone.  It’s called ‘The Comfort Zone Test’; use it honestly and accurately to give you a real perspective on the actions you should take in order to succeed and make a real breakthrough.

Step 1

Get a sheet of paper, make a list of all the things you currently find difficult.  The easiest test to see if anything should be on the list is to judge your feelings as you write the list.  If you think about something and you find yourself feeling uneasy, worried, embarrassed, or uncomfortable then that’s probably an area that needs work; write it down.

Step 2

Now get another sheet of paper and create four columns one headed ‘Challenge’; the second headed ‘Imaginary Cost’; the third headed ‘Real Cost’; and the forth headed ‘Potential Benefits/ Rewards’.

Step 3

Now one by one, select items from your list and run them through your comfort zone test.  In column one – ‘Challenges’, write down the challenge e.g. asking for a day off to attend a seminar, giving a presentation, making a sales call, speaking up in meetings, challenging negative conversations.

Step 4

In column two – ‘Imaginary Cost’, write down the imaginary cost; that’s right, all the things you think might happen or go wrong if you took a risk and went ahead with this challenge.  E.g. the boss might think I’m crazy, he might say no, my colleagues won’t understand me, people might laugh at me, they won’t be interested in what I have to say or sell etc…

You may not feel that these are imaginary costs but you have no actual proof that these things will actually happen, so just humour me and complete this column as directed.

Step 5 

In column three – ‘Real Cost’, list the real costs.  Write down the things you know will definitely happen if you don’t take action:  I’ll feel undervalued, I won’t give my boss a chance to think about my request, people won’t know about my services or what I have to offer, people won’t have a chance to respond to me, things will stay exactly as they are.

These are what I class as real costs, because it’s quite easy to work out what will happen if you don’t take action.  Either nothing, or even worse something you really don’t want to happen.

Step 6

In column four – ‘Potential Payoff / Rewards’, write down all the positive things that could possibly happen if you stepped out of your comfort zone and took action:  My boss might say yes, people might respond to my ideas, I will build my confidence.

As you go through the process you will begin to see how positive these potential payoffs can be.  You will begin to see that in the long run not taking action is much more uncomfortable and far more costly to you than actually taking action.  You will begin to paint a wonderful picture of what the possibilities will be if you take the necessary action by breaking out of your comfort zone; hopefully, this will give you a paradigm shift.

Step 7

If you find yourself at crossroads; once again, it is up to you to take the action.  If you find that even with the results of action vs. inaction in front of you, you are still struggling, you may need some outside help.  Seek a coach or a mentor who can help hold your hand, support and guide you to taking the necessary action to break out of your comfort zone.   A good coach will ask you the right questions, to empower you to take the necessary action to win.  With the right coach and the right attitude, you will be able to break through practically any barrier that has been holding you back.  How do I know?  It’s what I have been doing for years.

Stay positive, stay focused and live your dreams.


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