Taking Big Little Steps; 4 Ways to Overcome Fear and Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

As a recovering control freak, one of the hardest things I have learned and am still learning is occasionally stepping out of my comfort zone and taking big little steps in the pursuit of my goals.

Admittedly, stepping out of your comfort zone may be difficult to do; in that it is the space in your life that brings you the most comfort and where you do not have to deal with nerve-racking uncertainties.

As human beings, we are wired for comfort and tend to seek out a peaceful existence where we are in control and can plan accordingly. We are perfectly content with a world where everything goes right and nothing goes left. Most of us only desire to be in a space we can control. However, the danger of remaining in your comfort zone is that it limits your growth, learning and creativity as you “escape” taking on challenges which are an integral part of life.

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”

Brian Tracy

It is simply fascinating how we subconsciously tie the words “safety” and “better” to our comfort zones. We believe that it is better and safer to remain in our comfort zones (whether or not we choose to call it that) when in reality, our comfort zones may not necessarily be safer or better; it is just all we have ever known. Our bodies get used to a particular way of doing things and a way of existing that any thought that creeps up to suggest something otherwise is shot down by fear and “rationality”.

You choose to remain in your comfort zone because you are uncertain of what lies ahead

Another prominent reason why you choose to remain in your comfort zone is the almighty Fear of the Unknown.

The Fear of the Unknown is such a paralysing factor in the pursuit of goals and dreams. We tend to think of the unknown as “unsafe” and subconsciously associate it with failures and negative “what-ifs” which is why we would rather stay in a toxic relationship that our bodies have gotten used to than be single or explore thoughts of leaving the toxic relationship. This is also why we would remain in a job we hate which pays a relatively reasonable salary as long as it can foot the bills.

While fear is valuable in that it keeps you safe and encourages caution when caution is due,…

It’s also a limiting thing: Not everything you’re afraid of deserves fear or caution. And sometimes, moments of bravery are what are needed to make your life better.

Forbes Coaches Council

How can you overcome fear and step out of your comfort zone?

Do new things that make you uncomfortable

This is something I started at the beginning of last year and it has been amazing. Simple yet profound in stretching your mind to get used to a life outside your comfort zone.

By doing things that typically make you uncomfortable, you find that your mind gradually experiences freedom. You may experience discomfort while doing or watching people do certain things due to factors like your upbringing, culture, fear and environmental factors or just a subconscious “what would they think about me?” mentality.

However, by constantly engaging in activities that you may not typically engage in, your mind experiences freedom to enable you take the big little steps. Some of these activities, may include singing out loud while taking an early morning walk, greeting and talking to strangers, dancing in public, jumping out of a plane (skydiving, please), wearing clothes that typically make you feel body conscious, parasailing or entering a hot air balloon, answering a question first in class…the list goes on and on.

Me parasailing sometime last year. Best experience ever.

In a nutshell, the things that make you cringe or think “I can never do that” ? …do them.

“As you move outside of your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal.”

Robin Sharma

Take Baby Steps

A very important way to overcome fear and step out of your comfort zone is to take baby steps in the direction of your goals.

Understand that if your goals and dreams scare you sometimes, this is perfectly normal. Perhaps you want to achieve something that has not been achieved before, or you want to give a different twist to an already existing product and the thought of starting gives you all sorts of anxiety; start by taking baby steps. You may be looking to quit your job to get a better one or start doing what you love because your current job does not align with your purpose. You may be scared of losing your financial independence and/or somewhat financial stability that has aided you this far.

However, it is necessary to take baby steps in the direction of your goals. Some baby steps could be drafting a business proposal, reaching out to a potential investor who is a complete stranger, searching for new jobs, dusting up your CV, applying to schools to further your education if you desire, giving yourself closure before stepping out of a toxic relationship. Whatever the case may be, the important thing is to start somewhere.

When you take and accomplish these baby steps, you gain the necessary confidence required to step out of your comfort zone.

Develop a Growth Mindset

“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work, brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”- Carol Dweck

Developing a growth mindset is crucial in overcoming fear and stepping out of your comfort zone. This is because your mindset affects your attitudes and general outlook on life.

Most often than not, we remain in our comfort zones due to the fear of failure which is intricately tied to the fear of the unknown. The fear of failure itself is so mentally paralysing and destabilising to the extent that the comfort zone begins to look so attractive that any opportunities for growth and learning are subconsciously shot down by the mind.

By developing a growth mindset, you are able to take on challenges while learning from them and increasing your abilities and achievements. A person with a growth mindset does not see failure in its raw form and does not get discouraged by mistakes, but sees failure as a learning opportunity to be and do better. Furthermore, he/she sees failure not as an evidence of unintelligence, but as an opportunity for growth and as such, is constantly willing to improve and positive about the future.

“A growth minded person believes that they can learn anything as long as they are willing to put in enough effort into it. If they fail, they would get back up and try again, this time with new knowledge about what not to do. They realize that their potential is only limited by their willingness to work hard and keep trying new approaches until something works.”

You can read more on how to develop a growth mindset here.

Affirmations

Words are so powerful and simple positive words which may seem ineffective on their own, can evoke a powerful response of feeling amazing, powerful and like you can take on the world.

By repeatedly saying positively affirmative words to yourself even if you do not believe them at first, your brain believes them. This is because your brain does not know the difference between what words are true and false. Positive affirmations help you counter negative thoughts that may pop up from time to time due to fear.

Also, be careful of the negative words you tell yourself or others about yourself, whether jokingly or in serious terms. Sooner or later, you begin to believe them and act accordingly. If you continuously say “this one is too big for me to do” or “I can only imagine working there” or “let me do the one I know I can do, that one is only a dream” then sooner or later you believe in and limit yourself accordingly.

You cannot know until you try.

You cannot control everything in life and you need to make peace with this. In the pursuit of your goals and dreams, you can only fight to overcome fear, take calculated risks, do your best and have some faith.

Remember,

Your greatest fears are just that…your greatest fears. They have no power over you unless you give them power.

I pray you find the strength and bravery to step out of your comfort zone this 2020 and exist courageously.

Love and Light,

Rachel

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Bounce Back; 7 Tips to Recover From a Rough 2019

Going through social media the past couple of weeks and seeing what a tough time 2019 has been for a lot of us was actually surprising. I had sat in my little hole thinking it was just me who had had a crazy year, only for thousands of people to open up about how rough 2019 was for them.

It just goes to show that no matter what one is going through or how peculiar it may feel in that moment, there is also someone, somewhere in the world, who may be experiencing something similar even though unique, and can relate to what you’re going through.

So…

You’re not alone.

If 2019 knocked you down a little too hard or more than what you expected, here are 7 simple ways to bounce back to help you get ready to embrace the beauty that will be 2020. These simple but super useful tips are sourced from a mix of my experiences this year and what has helped me in bouncing back so far, a podcast by Robin Sharma I listened to a while ago and one of my now favourite books of all time, The Mastery of Self by Don Miguel Ruiz Jr.

Seek Perspective

When you sit down to reflect about how your 2019 has been, especially when you look at the rough times, ask yourself “How could this be worse?” , “What was good here?” “What were my blessings?” , “What am I grateful for?”

When you look at some of these moments that may have caused you pain, brought some disappointment, heartbreak or betrayal, attempt to reconceptualise your thoughts if you have been looking at the painful experiences negatively. There is no doubt that these experiences may have been rough or painful, but by reconceptualising, you begin to see things with a growth mindset. No matter how much you feel like the victim in a situation, and granted, you may have been, try to ask yourself “What can I learn from this?” “What can i do differently going forward?” “What ways can I improve better?”.

Leave other people to find out for themselves and concentrate on YOU.

Leverage for growth

As mentioned earlier, what you do not want to do in bouncing back in sitting in a pit and letting only negative thoughts cloud your mind. However, what you want to do is to use these rough times in 2019 (no matter how rough they may have been) as opportunities to leverage for growth going forward.

Hard times are nothing more than Growth in wolves’ clothing.

Ask yourself “How can I use this to grow?” and “How can I use this to cover the shattering of my ego?”

Sometimes a situation looks so bleak that you feel that there’s nothing to learn from it, or that there is nothing to grow from, but I bet if you looked close enough, you would find at least one way. Some of these rough times may just help us become stronger as individuals.

Appreciate the season

The truth is that difficult times come to crack the shell of your understanding, to humble you, to remind you that you are human. You may appreciate the pain that comes with these times, but you can appreciate the season; the season of growth, stretching, improvement. Learn to use the stumbling blocks you faced in 2019 as stepping stones in 2020 and turn those wounds to wisdom. Share with people what you have learned during the painful seasons and wear your scars proudly.

Feel to heal

If there is any pain you need to heal from in 2019, then you need to feel it. Running away from it and pressing the “reset” button or burying it deep down to enter 2020 with is very unhealthy. Deal with it and feel it so you can move on. Reflect on those tough times and pay attention to the difficult feelings that came with it. Do you still feel any resentment, anger, bitterness or any negative feelings towards something or someone? Are you disappointed in yourself for not reaching certain goals? You need to dig deep and deal with these feelings.

To release a toxic feeling, the only way in is out.

Do not tie achievements to self worth

Ahhhh. This is one of the most important lessons I have learned this year; not basing my self worth on my achievements or accomplishments. I am definitely using this going forward in 2020.

A lot of us base our self worth on our achievements and accomplishments in different seasons of our lives. So if we are not employed, married, married with kids, do not have a high paying job, are not able to finish an online course, are not able to read a book in a year, not able to gain admission into school, are not able to save a certain sum of money by the end of the year, then we are failures and nothing more.

This is not true!

Even if you did nothing, you are still worthy; worthy of love, of friendship, of happiness, of peace and of laughter. You are still worthy of all the amazing blessings God gives. You are still amazing and special. Your “amazingness” does not come from the “things you do” but who you are at your core. You are already made perfection by God.

“When you use unconditional self-love as the starting point when setting any goal, you remain aware that perfection is not tied to the end result, but rather the reality of the present moment.You were perfect at the onset and you are perfect now; you are perfect throughout. You are aware the entire time that the end result won’t define you. It is through the practice of awareness that you are able to see the perfection that exists in yourself, which also lets you see perfection in the world around you and in each being in it.”

Do not wallow

Refuse to wallow in the disappointments of 2019. Refuse to remain in the pit of negative thoughts from 2019. Forgive yourself for mistakes made, chances not taken, discipline not exercised, not being discerning enough or moments where fear overwhelmed you and pushed you out of an opportunity. Forgive yourself, take the most important and practical lessons that can be applied in the new year and move on. Remember, time waits for no one. Time spent wallowing can be spent on doing and being better.

Detach from Outcomes and Focus on the Journey

A lot of us tend to focus heavily on the outcomes and destination of our goals or desires for the year that we forget to just enjoy the journey. We are too busy looking at where we want to get to that we forget to be present and enjoy life for what it is. In bouncing back, learn to detach from outcomes, while still having them, of course, but most importantly, focus on the journey, the experience and the lessons.

Learn to be patient. If it wasn’t your turn this year but another’s, be happy for him/her. Next year may be your turn…and if it isn’t, you try again in 2021.

Remember, you are not the accomplishment of your goals or desires.

Here’s wishing you an amazing, productive, laughter-filled, joy-filled, peace-filled 2020. 🥂

May all your dreams come true!

Love and Light,

R.

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