The investment you make in a higher education is a waste of time, effort and resources if you spend that investment within your comfort zone. The point of any investment – higher education, starting a business, traveling or even a hobby – is to test and expand the limits of your mind and pave new experiences that are UNSIMILAR in scope and breadth to your past. This is how and where growth happens.
When you push the boundaries of your comfort zone, you are building a bridge between the person you are and the person you want to be. Fear gets in the way of that transformation. You see the person you want to be, but are afraid to take the steps to be that person because that involves a risk of failure. There is no guarantee that even if you take that chance you will be successful and failure hurts. Even the idea of failure is painful.
At the same time, by never taking that risk you are guaranteed to stay the same person you have always been. Within our bubble, we have mastered a predictable routine. There is safety, security and stability. There is also stagnation, but people do not realize how stagnant they have become until months, years or even decades pass by and they are still the same person with the same familiar experiences. This realization is typically buckled with some deep seated regrets. There comes a time when you become a passive observer of your own life rather than an active participant. Fortunately, this can be avoided by a habitual practice of escaping your comfort zone.
First, define what is outside of your comfort zone
This is your “I wish” list. For example, I wish I could:
- run a marathon in record time.
- play the piano as well as a concert pianist.
- get my doctorate from an Ivy League school.
You get the idea. Define the reality you want that is clearly outside of your comfort zone and write it down. Then say it out loud. When you say it out loud, substitute “I wish” with “I will”. It is important to speak it into existence. This is the early stage of challenging your comfort zone.
Second, create a pathway from within your comfort zone to the edge and beyond
This is where the two realities meet. For instance, let’s say you want to run a marathon in record time but have not exercised in two years. It would be ludicrous to do a marathon tomorrow but you can start with a 10 minute walk around the neighborhood tonight. Take the same approach to every item on your wish list. The trick is to break it up into small, actionable steps that you can take to achieve those goals.
Third, get support!
It can be intimidating to venture out of your comfort zone. There will be some psychological elements that you have to overcome on your own, but there is a network of support ready to lift you up! Whether it is your group of family and friends or an online forum or even social media – it does not matter! Any type of positive support can help keep you accountable.
Finally, reflect on your progress
It is easy to get lost in the shuffle while actively trying to breach your comfort zone. It is vital that you take some time to reflect on your setbacks and accomplishments. Be patient with yourself and remember every step forward, no matter how small, is progress. Set regular breaks to reflect on your journey outside of your comfort zone.
As you venture out of your comfort zone, your horizons will be expanded. What you have believed about what is possible will change while building that bridge to the person you want to become. Personally, I make it a point to consistently push the envelope. You will learn a lot from your experiences if you push it, too. I challenge my clients to explore outside of their comfort zone in order to redefine their access to higher education and professional achievement. I help my clients reach beyond their comfort zone with confidence.
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