We all have a comfort zone, a safe and familiar space where we feel secure and in control. It’s a place where we know what to expect and are comfortable with the routine – although I have questioned that recently! This year feels a bit like I have rolled from one drama to another. Nothing life-threatening, but it feels like a constant stream of inconveniences, unexpected events and circumstances. So I have been invited (read catapulted) outside of my comfort zone quite a lot. 

But what happens when we CHOOSE to step out of this zone and try something new?  It can feel exciting and exhilarating, but at the same time can be daunting and overwhelming. Yet, it’s in these moments of discomfort and uncertainty, (whether we choose them or not) that we grow and evolve as individuals. In this blog, we will explore the challenges of stepping out of your comfort zone, the process of learning something new, and how to cope with judgement along the way.

The Comfort Zone Conundrum

The comfort zone is a psychological state where we feel safe and secure, but it can also be a hindrance to personal growth. When we stay within our comfort zone, we limit ourselves to what we already know and are comfortable with. We miss out on new experiences, challenges, and opportunities for growth. Stepping out of our comfort zone is necessary for personal development and achieving our goals.

The Process of Learning Something New

As a lifelong learner, learning something new has always felt exciting to me. But for many, it can be intimidating, especially if it is completely outside of our comfort zone. It requires us to be open-minded, vulnerable, and willing to make mistakes. However, the process of learning something new is also incredibly rewarding. It allows us to expand our knowledge, skills, and perspectives. It also helps us to build resilience and adaptability. So, when I decided to launch a Podcast, I was really excited to learn something new. I was even prepared to be vulnerable and make some mistakes – I underestimated just how much and how many! 

The Challenges of Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

The challenges of stepping out of your comfort zone are numerous and can vary from person to person. It could be fear of failure, fear of judgement, or fear of the unknown. Launching the podcast definitely brought up fear of judgement for me – but then again I was comparing myself to the likes of Steven Bartlett, Diary of a CEO – I mean really? He must have hundreds of episodes under his belt and has probably learned and improved with each one. At my point of comparison, I was recording episode 3, from my daughter’s bedroom, whilst trying to get away from the noise of the builders who were busy working on our extension. Hardly comparing apples to apples here!  These challenges can make us feel anxious, stressed, and even overwhelmed. However, it is important to remember that these challenges are a natural part of the process, and we should not let them hold us back from trying something new. We also need to be clear on what measuring stick we are using. A big lesson for me. 

Coping with Judgement

I have no idea why, but recording a podcast felt far more exposing than writing a blog. It shouldn’t, but it did to me. When we try something new, it can be scary to face criticism or disapproval from others. However, it is essential to remember that everyone has their own opinions and perspectives, and we should not let them discourage us from pursuing our goals. Instead, we can use their feedback as a learning opportunity and keep moving forward. I am sure some people will think what I have to say is a pile of s%$t and others will love it. Some people will like my style, some won’t, some will resonate with the content, and some won’t. And there will probably be a mass of people somewhere in between. So, going back to the measuring stick I mentioned earlier, you have to determine your own criteria for success, remember you are on a trajectory of learning and that an opinion from one person (or several) doesn’t mean they are right. 

Embracing Growth and Overcoming Challenges

Stepping out of your comfort zone and learning something new is not an easy journey, but it is worth it. It is certainly not a straight line of success – I think mine right now probably resembles a plate of spaghetti – lots of twists and turns and things tangled together but overall, it tastes pretty good. Stretching ourselves, going to our learning edge and getting curious about our process allows us to grow, evolve, and become the best version of ourselves. Embrace the challenges and use them as opportunities for growth. Celebrate your progress, no matter how small, and be proud of yourself for taking the first step towards personal development. I celebrated recording the outro and remembering to smile while I did it by repeatedly playing it to my family – look what I did! Six episodes in, and that sounds ridiculous but at the time, it was a huge step forward. And this is the benefit of looking back – you see how far you have come, and then you raise your bar a little bit higher. And so it is. 

As the saying goes, “life begins at the end of your comfort zone” and it can be a perplexing and challenging journey. We are called to face our fears, or potentially live with the regret and they say we regret more of what we choose not to do than the things that we do. So, as I move nearer to the launch date, and feel the fear and anticipatory anxiety, I know that I will look back and laugh at some of the episodes and think “what the hell was I thinking?” and that’s OK. I will remind myself that I was learning, and stretching, and growing into something that was new and way out of my comfort zone. 

If you would like to be part of my learning, you can follow Your Permission to Pause here. This is a podcast to help ambitious leaders step out of THEIR comfort zone and look after themselves and their wellbeing in the process. Come and join me, it could be a wild ride!

Jo x

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