Saturday, 7 April 2012

LifeCircle 2012 - Dealing with your comfort zone

Life Circle Hello, and welcome back to LifeCircle 2012. Do you remember a while back when I got you to do something out of your comfort zone? Well, I promised a follow-up task to it but I needed to give you a while to complete it again. I was going to set this before the Easter holidays started but as you know, I was running late with the last one.

So now I'm going to set you almost the same task but this time, I'm going to share with you some techniques for pushing yourself out of your comfort zone so that maybe, you can push yourself a bit further and make some really radical changes.

The first step to dealing with a problem is to admit you have one. If you are stuck in a particular area because of fear (it's usually fear that holds us back), admitting it to yourself and the reasons for those feelings has to come first. Sometimes, we do not admit those things even to ourselves; we hide fears even from ourselves. Instead, we procrastinate and find other reasons not to tackle a project now. Acknowledging to yourself that you are scared and why you have those fears will make it easier to tackle them. You don't have to admit them publicly if you don't want - although I often think it helps to share a problem - but do at least write down your fears. The act of committing them to paper or a screen crystallises them and trying to explain them, even to yourself, helps you to understand them. Recognising the fears will help you to overcome them. Keep your plans realistic though (remember SMART?).

Of course, once you have admitted that there is a problem, you need a plan to deal with it. Think of ways to overcome what is stopping you - whether that is smaller tasks to build up to a bigger one, or practice runs of a bigger task. Even just opening yourself up to something by offering to do it is a good start. Then, recognise when those fears kick in and analyse them. If the fears amount to not being good enough or clever enough or similar, then realise they are serving no other purpose than to hold you back. Some fears are there to protect you but many others aren't. Think carefully which ones are holding you back. If you come up with an action that genuinely scares you, write it down. Commit to it! Facing fears is a great way to overcome them.

And then, another good way to stretch your comfort zone is push it all the time. Try doing something scary, however small, every single day. The more you do it, the easier it becomes to do the bigger scarier tasks.

The fear that is most likely to hold us back is that of failure. This is a tough one because everyone has to accept that we will fail at something sometimes. No-one can guarantee success. Try to change your point of view - accept you will fail but that not trying is more a failure, and so is giving up. Failure is not the problem, and we need to accept it as a part of everyday life.

It's important to focus on what you CAN do rather than what you can't. If you want to run a marathon, focus on what you can do and how you can get there. If you think that you can't run a marathon, then you won't. If you accept that you can run a mile, you can work on a plan to reach your goal. Try to learn from others who have done it before; don't be afraid to take advice or input from others; people are generally helpful and supportive and0 learning from their mistakes will save you time and energy.

Finally, go easy on yourself. If pushing out of your comfort zone stresses you, give yourself some small rewards or treats to look after yourself. If you have to abandon your task because your fears overwhelm you, don't beat yourself up. Be kind to yourself, analyse it some more and have another go. Have a reward in mind for when you do achieve it and enjoy it with impunity.

Now I've told you all this, here's the task. Look back at everything you've done so far and try to identify an area of your life that is holding you back but dealing with it scares you. Work through why that is and make a plan to deal with it. Set yourself a substantial task related to this area to complete within a month, and then tackle it, bearing in mind the points I've made above. Tackle it in any way you want. If you want to start by doing something scary every day and make the tasks bigger, then do so, but remember your overall goal is to tackle something that you think has previously held you back.

When you've done all that, you need to blog about it and come back here to link up when I post the linky. That will be Thursday 27th April and the link will then stay open until 10th May. That gives you 3-4 weeks to play with.

Enjoy your Easter holiday and I'll see you at the end of April.
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