Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone
Over the last 12-18 months I’ve been full-on SOOMCZ – stepping out of my comfort zone. Why do this, you ask? To paraphrase one of my favourite quotes, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. You want something different? Do something different.
In this time I’ve taken multiple improv classes (as per top photo) MC’ed an event on my own (without my security blanket, aka Anna), acted in a commercial and an educational app (and I mean “acted” not simply playing myself) enrolled in continuing education classes and taken on work projects where I was required to stretch my skills and capabilities.
You will think that because I’ve been on TV, some of this is easy for me. It is not. While I’m comfortable in front of the camera, public speaking gives me a really bad, bathroom-necessitating stomachache. Walking into a party of 500 people on my own – and not knowing who I’d know there – is only marginally better. (I did this too, not highly recommended.)
I guess in some ways, I’ve gotten tired of being afraid of doing stuff. And the more I’ve tried new things, on my own, the more confident I’ve become, confident that even trying makes me feel good and failing is just part of the process.
If you are interested in pushing your own boundaries, here are my tips for getting out of your comfort zone. I’m not going to sugar coat it, it’s going to be uncomfortable. (Pain factors are based on my own thresholds.)
1. Take a class. One where you’re mainly expected to sit and listen. Try to raise your hand or contribute something at least once.
Pain factor: 1 out of 5
2. Volunteer. Whether it’s organizing something at the office or volunteering at a non-profit, it’s a great way to do something different and meet new people, often without much personal “exposure.”
Pain Factor: 1 out of 5
At flower arranging class. Only slightly painful because I was quite horrible at it.
3. Take a class, but in the unexpected. I recently finished a Photoshop class. I’m not visually creative in this way and I haven’t learned new computer skills in eons. I was so focused for the duration of each class that I literally felt my brain expanding.
Pain Factor: 2 out of 5
4. Attend a networking event on your own. Start small, like going to a work-related talk or seminar, something where you won’t be expected to do much mingling. Then move on to a work mixer. The good news is going up to someone and introducing yourself is expected and encouraged. Try to meet one new person. I recommend starting with someone who is also standing on their own.
Pain factor: 2.5 out of 5
5. Go to a party alone. As in, one where you will be meeting friends. So all you have to do is walk in solo and maybe kill a few minutes before people you know arrive. (It surprises me how many people won’t do this. Trust me, it isn’t that bad!)
Pain factor: 1.5 out of 5
6. Get active and try a new physical activity. Of course, the pain factor here depends on the activity. But I find doing something that’s physically challenging (like a dance class!) breathes much great energy into my mental activities.
Pain factor: Depends on how life threatening or potentially embarrassing the activity.
7. Be the first one on the dance floor. (Assuming you’re an okay dancer.) No one will be laughing at you because we all know someone has to be first. But yes, people will be watching. Watching your devil-may-care attitude is what!
Pain Factor: 3 out of 5
8. Speak up. Many of us are extremely reluctant to express how we really feel and what we really think. Decide that next time, you are going to speak up to that friend, significant other, coworker or boss. Of course, delivering such news with honey instead of vinegar is always recommended.
Pain Factor: Depending on what it is you’re going to say, pain factor of 4-5 out of 5
9. Present. Not everyone may have the opportunity to do this but if you have the chance to lead the next meeting, give a toast at a birthday, or MC your friend’s wedding, say yes. I consider this SOOYCZ big leagues.
Pain Factor: 5 out of 5