Is your comfort zone holding you back? (And how to fix it.)

We have great women attending the DrivenWoman meetings. Everyone wants to change their life in a way or another. They all want more: more in terms of wealth, more in terms of relationships, more in terms of excitement, but also more in terms of relaxation and balance in their lives. For some the new life vision and long term goal is cristal clear, they just have to figure out how to get there. Others know they want something else but it's not so clear what it is yet. In both cases their comfort zone is holding them back.

One of the girls wants to open her own spa. Her greatest fear is that if she leaves her job as a therapist in an upmarket spa, she may fail with her own business and loose the monetary security she currently enjoys. This is a common fear and it is good idea to keep your job as long as you can before starting your own business, and making sure all numbers in your business plan add up. However, her fear of monetary loss have influenced her thinking unconsciously and made her dream smaller. Rather than aiming for the premium clients and top end locations - which she could do really successfully with her superb skill and passion - she has been focusing on looking at potential properties in the areas where she thinks rents are not that high. Her comfort zone - keeping monetary safety - is watering down her dream and doesn't even necessarily make financial sense. With premium clients and better margins she might be better off in up town location.

One of the girls is doing her PhD. She's really smart girl and knows what job she wants to do in the future. She is determined to have her own practise and to help others. However, she feels safe when studying but her PhD is not progressing as fast as it should because she is avoiding posting her academic papers. Clearly she doesn't want any exposure to criticism and thus - she thinks - potential failure. Eternal studying can provide a safe haven from real life, thus her answer to any new situation in life is to first 'read the manual and thoroughly understand the theory'. She even suggested she'd read a book about Twitter before starting to use it! Until she takes risks and starts doing things - rather than reading about them - she will be safely in her comfort zone, but nothing will change in her life either.

We are all afraid to expose ourselves to critizizism which is ridiculous because if you turned it around it would be the one thing that you could use to make yourself better.

These are typical stories of women trapped in their comfort zones. We hope we can do new things and change our lives without giving up our safety, but it is seldom possible. And hope is not a strategy.

You can have a vision, break it down into goals and short term tasks (as we do in the DrivenWoman groups), but unless some of your tasks are going to take you outside of your comfort zone you will just get frustrated filling out the task list and feel nothing is changing.

'Doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results. That's called stupidity!'

1) Understand and define your comfort zone

It is important to start understanding your comfort zone in order to break out of it. Answer questions like: How do you react to life's challenges? What is your automated response? What is your 'default' way of solving problems? What do you say 'no' to (always)? What do you do when you feel you are not in control? What is your greatest fear? What are you afraid of loosing?

2) What must change for your life to change?

A book called 'What Got You Here Won't Get You There' says it all in the tittle. You have become successful (up to a point) dispite of your shortcomings and the fact you are staying at your comfort zone. To move forward it's time to tip your toes into the cold water!

If you want to live your visionary future you must disrupt. You must disrupt the pattern you are repeating over and over again.

3) Expose yourself

I had to come out of my comfort zone big time when we started DrivenWoman. I was a branding consultant. I did great work with world class clients. I owned and build design related businesses. What did DrivenWoman had to do with anything?! DrivenWoman was personal. I was putting my personality, my passion and values right on the line. I had to expose myself, be naked, put myself in front of everyone I knew and be open for ridicule. (I have no idea if I have had any, nobody has so far told to my face.)

But a funny thing happened. As soon as I stepped out (of my comfort zone) I no longer cared what people would think! As I became vulnerable I turned strong instead. I freed myself from the expectations of others and now I'm able to do what ever I want for the rest of my life!

I'm absolutely convinced that there is no short cut. There is no other way than breaking your conventional thinking about yourself. You must disrupt in order to reach your future vision.

We would love to hear your stories of breaking your comfort zone as personal experiences are the ones that will help others. We have already experienced many in our groups and I'm convinced there is much more to come, including our lovely PHD and Spa girls. We will be sharing those great stories here later.

Meanwhile, please comment and share if you agree! And I dare you to step outside of your comfort zone to comment on this blog post :)

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