“There is no growth in the comfort zone.”
I didn’t come up with this quote. I couldn’t tell you where I heard it, or what the exact moment was. But I can tell you that quote stuck with me ever since, and completely changed my business.
I am naturally an introvert. I was never the super popular girl; I have always had friends, but not many. My family and my work were always my primary focuses in life. One would drive the other. As I naturally progressed in my career and started to achieve goal after goal, it was exhilarating.
After 15 years of working at my company, my husband and I had the opportunity to purchase the business. I was ecstatic. I thought that my dedication to the growth of the company could take it to the next level. However, I quickly learned that dedication wasn’t enough.
We weren’t growing; we were maintaining. And that wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to grow.
My marketing team (and even my husband!) would push me to do speaking engagements, to network more, to host webinars, etc. and I constantly pushed back. Why? Because as much as I said I wanted growth, I had my limits. And all of those strategies were on the other side of my own limits. They took me out of my comfort zone. I didn’t want to leave my precious safety bubble and make myself vulnerable.
“What if no one wants to actually hear what I have to say?”
“These women are extremely successful, and know so much more than I do. What could I possibly share to bring them value?”
I tried to make excuses to avoid leaving my comfort zone, insisting, “We can grow other ways.” While I didn’t realize it at the time, it wasn’t a justification; it was a selfish excuse to avoid discomfort.
I desperately wish I could remember the exact moment someone told me those words that changed my life: “There is no growth in the comfort zone.” Regardless, nothing has ever resonated with me so deeply as that quote, in that moment- when I needed to hear it most.
From that point on, I decided to create a plan to leave my “comfort zone.” Here are 7 steps that helped me:
Recognize that growth requires pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone. Embrace the discomfort that comes with trying new things, taking risks, and facing challenges. It's normal to feel fear, resistance, or uncertainty-- but don't let those feelings hold you back.
Identify specific goals that are slightly outside your comfort zone and require you to stretch yourself. These goals should be realistic but also require effort and commitment to achieve. Setting challenging goals can motivate you to take action and push beyond your comfort zone.
Embrace a growth mindset, which is the belief that you can learn and develop through effort and perseverance. View challenges as opportunities for growth and learning, rather than as threats or failures. This mindset can help you approach discomfort with a positive attitude and a willingness to learn from your experiences.
Start by taking small steps outside of your comfort zone. This could be trying a new hobby, speaking in public, or having a difficult conversation. Gradually increase the level of challenge as you become more comfortable with discomfort. Celebrate your progress and reward yourself for stepping outside of your comfort zone.
Embrace failures as opportunities for learning and growth. Don't be afraid to make mistakes or face setbacks. Reflect on your experiences, learn from them, and use them as stepping stones to push yourself further out of your comfort zone in the future.
Surround yourself with people who support your growth and development. Seek advice and encouragement from mentors, coaches, or trusted friends and family. Having a support system can provide motivation, guidance, and accountability as you step outside of your comfort zone.
Be kind to yourself as you face discomfort and challenges. Avoid self-judgment or negative self-talk. Instead, practice self-compassion by acknowledging your efforts, celebrating your progress, and being patient with yourself during the process of stepping outside of your comfort zone.
Having the opportunity to work with the wonderful women at Ms. Esquire and build their website, I was asked to come speak at one of their luncheons. The internal conflict I felt that day was REAL. I was so honored, yet so nervous! Reluctantly, I said yes…. and then proceeded to stress about it for weeks. I practiced my 45 minute presentation daily to ensure it was perfect. Every single day. This was so far outside of my comfort zone, but I knew if I could make it through this, I could meet like-minded women and grow my business further. It was baby step number one.
Spoiler alert…… It. Went. Amazing. (Insert sweaty sigh of relief here.)
I did it! I was so proud of myself. I put myself and my business out there, and it paid off! Absolutely everyone there bombarded me with praise and business cards. Since then, I have spoken at various events; I’ve been on panels, webinars, podcasts; and I’m personally exhibiting with my company throughout the US. Getting out of my comfort zone has completely changed my business. My network has grown exponentially, and my revenue has increased (without increasing my marketing budget).
Moral of the story? Get out of your comfort zone. It’s not your friend; it doesn’t want you to grow.
Remember, growth happens when you challenge yourself and step outside of your comfort zone. It may be uncomfortable at times, but the rewards of personal growth and development are worth it. Embrace discomfort, adopt a growth mindset, take small steps, learn from failures, surround yourself with support, and practice self-compassion as you push yourself beyond your comfort zone.