"Do one thing every day that scares you". That is a famous quote by Eleanor Roosevelt and it's as relevant today as ever.
Comfort zones can be dangerous. Naturally, we can argue that a lower level of stress and risk in our lives is a good thing. However, it's important for us to step out of these zones occasionally and push ourselves in areas and directions that we may have previously deemed impossible.
We're all scared of different things and fear can come in various forms. Myself, I can say that I am not a fan of confrontation. Social situations can bring on a sweat from time to time and I don't even want to talk about my feelings towards snakes. Some people shy away from public speaking, being alone, spiders, Donald Trump, the Internet, mortality - it's a never ending list. Yet these fears control us and if we don't have control over our feelings and emotions, we restrict our ability to take charge of that particular situation. I don't know about you, but I hate giving up control!
Fear can also prevent us from reaching our full potential. Human beings have an amazing 'fight or flight' mentality which comes into play when we perceive any threat to ourselves and it's this physiological reaction that stops us from stepping out of that comfort zone and taking any risks. If we don't take the risks, we will continue to tread the same path that we have been walking all our lives. For some of us, that's fine, yet for those who wish to grow into something more, this is where the comfort zone is dangerous.
There are a whole host of things you can look at doing, every day, to help you grow and assume control.
Talk to a Stranger
This is one I try to do daily now, so much so that it no longer holds any fear for me. It could be the person I sit next to on the commute, maybe the barista serving me at Starbucks. It doesn't matter who, but think of the maxim "A stranger is a friend you haven't made yet" and you'll realise that 99% of us out there are decent, warm human beings who love it when strangers say "Hello" in passing.
This action can also help boost your confidence and self-esteem.
Disconnect From Your Phone
Guess what? You know how important and crucial to everything you think you are? Well, you're NOT. Next time you're away from the office, spending time with your family, just switch your phone off. Maybe even for an hour at first. You'll realise that no matter how scary this is, the world will still be turning when you switch it back on and you will have spent some quality time with the people that matter most to you, rather than just waiting for the 'ding' notification.
Ask For Help
This has always been a tricky one for me but I'm getting there. I hate asking for help, having always seen it as a sign of weakness. Far from it - I now know it's a mark of true strength to know that in order to get to where I where I want to be, I'm going to need some help. I ask for help on certain projects daily and I know I'm in a far better position for it.
Eat Something New
I find myself saying this to my kids so often. "Go on, you'll never know you like it until you try it". It's true though. Yes, they don't always take to the new food they are trying and may even go to spit it out at times, but each time they try, they step outside of their comfort zone and try a little.
I'm not trying broccoli though. Ewwww.
Tough one for so many people, but being the bigger person and apologising when the situation merits it helps you grow. The scariest bit has been completed before we open our mouths - that's acknowledging the fact we are in the wrong. The rest should then be plain sailing. In fact, people's perception of us will largely increase because of our perceived humility.
Change Your Hairstyle
I can put this one down safely because, given the rate my hair is going, I could do with a change! Do something radical, make a change, maybe even ask your hairdresser to recommend a style and just go with that. The results will surprise you and may even yield a lesson in having faith and letting go.
Tell Someone How You Feel About Them
So what's the worse that can happen? You are positive, you tell that girl you've been mooning over for years that she makes your kettle boil and she runs away as fast as her legs can carry her. Well now you know, it won't be in your head anymore, interrupting your thought processes. You never know, she may feel the same way and boom! Life is good. Don't ask, don't know.
Conversely, it can be a conversation of a negative nature. The confrontation you have been dreading. Well, until it's out there, it's in your head and you are picking away at it like a loose thread on a cushion. This is a horrible situation to be in and does nobody any good. The sooner the conversation is done, the sooner you can work on remedying the situation.
Jump Out Of A Plane
Yeah, I hear you, this isn't exactly something you can do every day. What a marker to lay down though, at some point in the future, wouldn't you agree? The idea of jumping out of a plane terrifies me. All I have to do is look over the side from the top of a tall building and my legs start to feel numb as that cold shiver travels down my spine. In truth, I'd rather sit in the corner of a dark room bouncing bricks off of my head whilst waiting for Windows to update on a laptop I'm relying on for work.
I'm going to do it though. Mainly because I'm an obstinate so and so who refuses to let this fear get the better of me.
I know that if I can do this, I can do almost anything - and when I'm planning on cutting the cord on contract life and moving solely into freelance coaching and writing, that's an important thing to be sure of.