This past year, I decided to step out of my comfort zone. I wanted to try some new experiences, but something was holding me back. I couldn’t figure it out. I think what was keeping me from finding my magic was fear. Fear of not having enough money so I kept taking jobs that kept me comfortable. Fear of looking foolish so I kept doing the same presentations. Fear of letting my family down. Actually, my family was pushing me to go out of my comfort zone. I didn’t realize I had a fixed mindset that I couldn’t do something. It was me holding me back.
So I decided to start over and rethink what I’m doing with my life. I needed to find my WHY, my purpose. You probably notice a theme around passion and purpose in my posts and podcasts lately. I tried to figure out why I was letting fear take over so I had help from my family, friends, and a coach. Here are some tips that helped me:
1 – Know Your Fears
Fear is a valuable thing. It keeps you safe and encourages you to be cautious when you need to be. But fear also limits you. Not everything you’re afraid of deserves fear or caution. Sometimes, courage and bravery are needed to make your life better. First, review your fears and if they are real. I had no idea I was holding myself back when I didn’t have to. So I took time to address each fear one at a time and talk about that fear. I needed to figure out on a scale of one to ten how real that fear really was. There were no fears in my work that were 10s. I made the fears bigger than they really were.
2- Challenge Yourself with Small Activities
One of my fears was changing the direction in my work. Before I jumped straight in, I needed to identify the direction I wanted to go. I had been blogging on my website Rethinking Learning since 2010 and before that blogged as Rethinking Learning on My eCoach since 2004. I really love to write and share. I figured the easiest thing to do was to start blogging again around passion, purpose, kindness, and agency. So I did. I’m loving it and writing every day. It’s about going slow and dipping your toes into what you’re passionate about.
3- Think of it as a Blesson
I learned from my husband that everything you do that takes you out of your comfort zone can be a blessing and a lesson: a Blesson. I love that. I decided to ask me a few questions: “What happened that I can learn from and learn about me? What am I learning about the other people who have gone through a similar discomfort? How can I use the information from both of these questions in my professional and personal lives?”
4- Be Your Own Coach
I am a coach for others and even help schools with their coaching programs. My coach asked me: “What questions do you ask when you are coaching someone out of their comfort zone?” I knew the questions and realized that I could do this for me. These are the questions I asked me: “What are the worst things that could happen if I go out of my comfort zone? What are the best things that could happen? Will I and others benefit from my actions? Would it be better to stay where I am? What is holding me back?”
5- Get a Handle on your Fears
After I identified some of my fears, I needed to do research on different topics. I needed to reinvent myself. That seemed so big, that I just kept doing the same thing even though it wasn’t working for me. I guess I didn’t feel confident in myself. I needed to get out and talk to people, visit schools, and travel. This is a mental trick anyone needs to do. It is about believing that you can do something if you do the research on what it is you want to do. The research builds knowledge. When you have that knowledge, you build the confidence you need to move forward.
6- Living with Uncertainty
Being uncomfortable is kind of the new norm today. The world is changing so fast that no one knows what is ahead of us. There is uncertainty about the type of work is needed in the future. That impacts all of us. For me, I knew I couldn’t keep going down the same road because it wasn’t working for me and for others. The best habit for me was to practice becoming familiar with uncertainty and discomfort. I try to pick one thing each day that kind of scares me and act on it. The one big thing I did was start my podcast show. Each show puts me out of my comfort zone. I needed to push myself so I did big time. I really recommend the idea of picking one thing each day that scares you and go and do it. You will be amazed at how you will be able to live with uncertainty easier every day and build a growth mindset about whatever you want to do.
When you take at least one small step to living uncomfortably and tackle your fears, you will be amazed at what magic occurs within you.
For all of the Rethinking Learning podcasts with Barbara Bray, click on the podcast tab at the top, the logo below, or go to https://barbarabray.net/podcasts/
Go to this page for resources, questions, and more information about Barbara’s new book, Define Your WHY.