(I know I’m dating myself, but I used to live for those weekends when half the fun was picking out the perfect movie from the shelf. And I can practically smell the popcorn.)
Blockbuster absolutely dominated the video rental industry with thousands of stores across North America and loyal, raving fans who lined up for new releases and diligently returned them 2 days later.
They were everywhere.
Until they weren’t.
They failed to adapt to the changing landscape of entertainment and the new technology that went with it, and they literally shut the door on their opportunity to become Netflix.
And in 2010, they had to file for bankruptcy.
All because Blockbuster, stuck in their comfort zone, refused to keep up with evolving market demands and changing customer behaviors.
Yes, this is an extreme cautionary tale, but the lesson is the same…
Get out of your comfort zone.
Or risk it all.
The risks of staying in your comfort zone
Your comfort zone is, unsurprisingly, comfortable for a reason – you don’t have to do anything to stay there.
Getting outside of your comfort zone requires you to stretch, reach, and challenge yourself.
All decidedly uncomfortable activities.
But staying comfortable opens you up to so many risks because you:
– Shut yourself off to new ideas and perspectives
– Miss opportunities for innovation and creativity
– Fail to adapt to market changes and trends
– Cut back on your competitive advantages
– And limit learning and skill development
All of this amounts to less motivation to achieve your goals which set you up for failure from the start.
Push yourself to get out of your comfort zone
It’s only through doing that you build up your level of competence and start moving forward.
Because action is the name of the game, you need a strategy to start working your way out of your comfort zone.
And I don’t believe it’s enough to “embrace a growth mindset” or “cultivate a willingness to try new things.”
Those things are obviously important, but they’re also pretty abstract.
So here are some things you can actually do to get out of your comfort zone (and some examples to help guide you):
Set ambitious goals.
Goals you can reach with little to no effort aren’t the kind of goals we’re talking about here.
We’re talking about goals that you have to challenge yourself to reach – goals that will take you a substantial investment of time (though you’ll also want to set mini milestones to keep motivated).
To set ambitious goals that are actually ambitious:
- Establish clear, measurable objectives that stretch your capabilities.
- Break down your goal into manageable steps.
- Find accountability (via collaborators or another support system)
An ambitious goal for an online coach might be:
Increase monthly revenue by 50% within 6 months through 1:1 coaching clients.
And this goal could be broken down into mini-milestones, such as:
–Hitting specific mini revenue goals (say 5-10%) each month.
–Nailing marketing and sales goals, such as following up with 5 warm leads weekly or having 10+ extra coffee chats/month.
–Executing a content strategy to focus on this one specific goal and hitting goals like posting about your offer 3x/week on LinkedIn.
You might already belong to a mastermind group or have an accountability partner, but if you don’t, I strongly suggest you get one when you’re trying to get out of your comfort zone.
Look for diverse perspectives and collaborations.
Another great strategy is finding perspectives that differ from yours (which is usually pretty uncomfortable to embrace, no matter how open-minded you are).
Look for collaborative opportunities with people who offer those different – or maybe even contradictory – points of view.
Engage with mentors, coaches, peers, and experts both in your industry and outside of it.
And don’t wait for an invitation to collaborate.
—If you have a podcast, invite them on it.
—If you both have a blog, propose a blog post exchange.
—Into LinkedIn lives or audio events? Why not do one together?
Foster a culture of collaboration within yourself so that it becomes second nature.
(And you’ll probably never find yourself stagnating in your comfort zone again.)
Continuously update your skills and knowledge-base
Sometimes, stepping out of your comfort zone is simply a matter of up-leveling your skills-game.
Remember how I already said that taking action is the best way to increase your confidence?
This is a really easy way to do exactly that:
First, identify any gaps in your knowledge.
Think of something you find really challenging in your business.
When you’re faced with that challenge, do you feel certain you can meet it head-on?
Or do you get a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach just imagining this scenario?
Those challenges that give you the queasy, sinking feeling are a good place to start.
Next, find professional development or a training course to fill that gap.
You might be able to make do with a quick Google search, but I’d also recommend asking industry leaders or trusted peers what they would recommend.
Many of them probably offer skills training or have someone they trust who offers it and can connect you with them.
Getting out of your comfort zone doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to happen
There’s no right or wrong way to do this.
As long as you’re taking action, you’re moving in the right direction.
It’s unlikely that you’ll always feel motivated to overcome the challenges that go with getting out of your comfort zone.
And that’s okay…as long as you keep going.
Recognize and address the fears and resistance as it comes up – pay extra attention to those recurring concerns or limiting beliefs and find ways to work through them.
That might mean finding the right self-help book, getting a great coach to help you, or even looking into therapy.
It won’t all be tough-going, though, so don’t forget to celebrate victories and milestones as they happen. No matter how small.
Positive reinforcement isn’t just a fancy dog-training technique. It really works.
And it works especially well when you also build a support network out of other business owners and people who “get” what you’re trying to achieve.
Staying in your comfort zone is just too risky for your personal development and your business growth.
So get out there. Get uncomfortable. Get out of your comfort zone.
Cheering you on!