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Is your addiction to the comfort zone crippling you and your business?

MINDSET

It’s good to be comfortable and happy with your business, but are you spending too much time in the comfort zone? In order to be a successful entrepreneur and continue to grow your business, you need to move out of your comfort zone and expand your potential – it’s a key requirement of making a living. Read on to discover how you can ditch your addiction to the comfort zone and move forward with life as an entrepreneur.

“You are in danger of living a life so comfortable and soft you will die without ever realising your true potential.” – David Goggins

It’s good to have familiar routines and business habits that you do day in, day out, they help your business tick over and reach standard goals. It provides a feeling of safety and predictability, knowing how things work, but it can also lull you into a false sense of complacency too.

Running a start-up business shouldn’t be easy and it shouldn’t be something that just ticks over. It might do just fine like that, but if you’re passionate about your work and want to achieve big things, ‘just fine’ isn’t the answer. Familiar habits and set routines are important and of course have their place, but in order to take your business to the next level, you need to aim for and reach new goals.

New goals mean new challenges and, yes, it may feel uncomfortable and unsettling. But in order to stand a chance of reaching those new business goals, you need to be prepared to step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. If you don’t, the chances are your business could stagnate, it could become stuck in a rut of familiarity and never move forward.

Some of the best start-up businesses that have developed incredibly well have done so because their founders have taken a risk and broken out of their comfort zones. They didn’t know what would happen, but by giving it a try they expanded their mindset, jumped into the unknown and gave it a go.   

These are key qualities that any entrepreneur should have – the ability to aim high, face challenges, take risks and try. You’ll already have exhibited these qualities in setting up your business in the first place. Life as an entrepreneur is, after all, an unknown path, you never know exactly what will happen, so you’ll have taken risks in setting up your business. But in order to prevent business stagnation, you need to keep on your toes, face more fears and keep stepping out of your comfort zone.

Just look at the downfall of the British music giant HMV. It failed to move out of its core area of selling CDs, DVDs and Vinyl. All around them, the market for physical music and video products was tanking. Instead of seeing the internet (streaming and downloads) as an opportunity, they saw it as a threat. HMV’s story could have been very different had it been brave enough to leverage its brand and wealth to create a UK version of iTunes or Spotify.

Initially, it can be uncomfortable doing things that are different. But in order to grow professionally, and personally, it’s important to take that step. Challenging yourself will help you to learn new skills, develop old ones and learn more about yourself, your mindset and your potential.

There are numerous ways in which you might need to step out of your comfort zone. Maybe you’re nervous about public speaking? In order to share your knowledge and let people know about the product or service you’re selling, you need to put yourself out there and learn to speak out – otherwise, how will your business grow?

Perhaps you’re nervous about expanding your business overseas? It might be comfortable staying within the market you’re familiar with, but you could be missing out on vital new business leads by not venturing further.

Whatever your situation or familiar comfort zone, there’s a lot to be said for challenging yourself. Don’t let your addiction to the comfort zone cripple you or prevent your business from ever moving forward. Don’t become a business statistic for staying in a rut of familiarity. Be brave, venture forth and face new challenges, despite your fears. As the saying goes, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”

How to move out of your comfort zone

In order to be a successful entrepreneur and build the business of your dreams, then you have to step outside of your comfort zone and do it regularly. It’s something I tell my clients all the time. You need to accept that you’re capable of much more than you ever thought possible.

One way of doing this is to set yourself some challenges that scare you. If you’re not scared, you’re not doing enough. If you don’t feel uncomfortable, it’s not enough. Be brave and dare yourself.

“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.” – Henry Ford

To help you face your fear and release yourself from the familiar crippling hold of your comfort zone, here are some tried and tested methods to put into action.  

1. Act: Regularly do something fearful

Take action and step out of your comfort zone regularly. Do something that scares you, something you’re fearful of. You’ll feel uncomfortable at first, but as you keep doing it, the unfamiliar will become more familiar and your fears will ease. When it becomes too familiar, it’s time to tackle your next challenge and move beyond the comfort zone again.

In recent years, I’ve chosen to take myself out of my comfort zones with exercise. In 2017, for example, I challenged myself to cycle at least 3,000 miles every year on a road bike. I’d never done any road cycling before, preferring sports such as tennis or five-a-side football which are undertaken in more controlled and familiar environments. There’s a huge contrast with road cycling, where there’s the constant threat of cars, lorries and other road users, not least the uncertain weather conditions.

The psychological nature of road cycling is different too. You need to stay focused and mentally alert the whole time, despite your body experiencing fatigue and breathlessness, and you need to think of three or four different things at any one time whilst travelling at speeds of up to 35 miles an hour. It’s physically and mentally challenging, you can’t switch off for a second, but I’ve found it very rewarding.

It’s important to continue to take up new challenges, so in 2018 I set myself the goal of becoming accomplished in Krav Maga, the hand-to-hand combat and fighting system. I train for one and a half hours twice a week and regularly return home with grazes, bruises and other minor injuries. It’s physically and mentally demanding, especially since I’d never done any form of martial art before.

At the class I attend, I’m usually the oldest there and am fighting (sparring, grappling and on the ground wrestling) with men half my age. Most are bigger and stronger than me, which bothered me at first. Now, though, I realise that’s part of the reason why I joined in the first place, to feel uncomfortable and learn how to deal with situations I’m not used to. Each session puts me into survival mode, making split second decisions that are the difference between a block and a punch in the face. It’s always challenging in so many ways, but I love it and, again, it’s been rewarding.

These two physical challenges may seem a world away from business. But by pushing myself physically and testing my limits, I was able to apply the same thinking that I learnt from road cycling and Krav Maga and make it applicable to all aspects of my business.

2. Think: What’s the worst that can really happen?

Staying in your comfort zone might seem cosy and safe, but if you want to achieve bigger and better things you need to face your fears. Some of the most common business fears are the fears of rejection, criticism and failure. They may seem dreadful in your mind, and you may have built them up to seem overwhelming, but in reality, how bad are they really?

Most people have been rejected, criticised or failed at some point in their life. Take author J K Rowling, for example. She was rejected by 12 publishers before finally finding success with her acclaimed Harry Potter novels – one publisher even told her ‘not to quit her day job.’ She’s a prime example of someone who persevered and kept submitting her manuscript despite the hurtful rejections she received along the way.

Take time to think and ask yourself the question, what’s the worst that can really happen?

Realistically, most fears have no real-life danger. Yes, you may experience a degree of feeling knocked down by a rejection or criticism, but you can stand back up again. Being in denial is the ultimate comfort zone.

As you start to realise that you can survive your fears, you’ll develop the courage to take the risks you need and drive your business and entrepreneurial dreams forward.

“Do the thing you fear to do and keep on doing it…that is the quickest and surest way ever yet discovered to conquer fear.” – Dale Carnegie

3. Identify: What is really holding you back?

If you decided not to pitch your latest product to a big industry retailer, or turned down the chance of speaking at a major business conference, why was it? Was it really because you didn’t need the extra business the opportunities could bring? Or was it because you were scared and fearful of taking the risk and putting yourself in the firing line for potential criticism and rejection?

Take time to go through all the excuses you’ve given to avoid doing something. Write them down, commit them to paper, and look at them carefully. If someone else had given you those excuses, what would you think? Be honest with yourself.  

The sooner you can identify what’s holding you back, the sooner you can take steps to overcome those roadblocks and move onwards.

4. Plan: What will you achieve?

Focusing on avoiding your fears never achieves anything, so instead focus on planning and thinking about all the things you could achieve if you face your fear and take the risk.

Take time to create a list of all the possibilities that might come about as a result of doing the things you’re fearful about. Maybe it could be new business opportunities, new leads, the chance to market your product overseas, make huge financial gains or collaborate with vital new sources.

Focus on the positive aspects and the numerous benefits you could gain and start convincing yourself that it’s definitely worth striving for.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela

5. Continue: Keep moving forward

Facing one fear isn’t the end – in order to continue succeeding, learning and improving you need to keep moving forward. Don’t fall into a false sense of security and end up back in your comfort zone, keep challenging yourself.

Make it a new habit in your life to continue striving, continue facing new challenges and achieving your goals. It’s worth it and you’ll reap the benefits in numerous ways.

As you can see, the real challenge of successful entrepreneurs isn’t coming up with the right business ideas, but having the right psychological mindset. Having the courage to face your fears and do the things that you never thought you could do.

So, take massive action. Don’t be afraid to face your fears, have courage and face them head on. Make a promise to yourself right now to always strive to achieve your ultimate goals and don’t settle for the next best thing. Choose one thing you’re going to do right now and make today the day that you’ll move out of your comfort zone.