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The Benefits of Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

I know that I’ve blogged about this topic before but it became relevant again this week so forgive me for adding a few thoughts.

Women's Business Conference

You may have seen my post on Friday about attending the Women’s Business Conference last week? Being actively involved in this event felt like a really big deal. I was asked quite a few months ago to deliver an ice breaker to get everyone talking and the benefits of doing so were clear and evident to me, however, it didn’t mean it wasn’t hugely terrifying. I did eventually agree, after mulling it over, but I did what I usually do and gave it no further thought for a few months, deciding I would look it in the eye after my holiday. Which was fine until I returned from my family holiday and found myself with a week to go.

A selfie of Craft Happy owner, Helen, at a conference
Craft Happy owner, Helen, at the Chamber of Commerce Women's Conference

I decided to introduce the activity by talking about my journey with creativity, that is, once I’d got over the debilitating thought that nobody would want to hear about it. Then I followed up with the benefits of creativity before asking everyone to participate in a fun little drawing game, a bit similar to Pictionary, based on the topic of gratitude. These are all things close to my heart and it made it comforting to talk about. There you go – I’ve inadvertently discovered how to make stepping out of your comfort zone more comfortable 😊.

The best thing about doing this, other than it being totally exhilarating and utterly empowering, was that it had the unexpected added benefit of eliminating my networking anxiety. I don’t know if anyone else suffers from networking anxiety, but it’s when you go to one of these events and stand on the edge of the room feeling utterly self-conscious because you feel like a spare part and you’re too scared to approach anyone and initiate a conversation. I hate it and I’ll be honest and say that I probably wouldn’t have gone to the conference had I not had this part to play. But I hadn’t anticipated that straight after my ice breaker, we went to a break and suddenly lots of people wanted to talk to me, which was just great. Because, I don’t have a problem having a one-to-one conversation, I just struggle to initiate it and now I didn’t have to – result!

I can honestly say that my fear of attending future networking events has diminished now because I’ve been able to put it into perspective. I hope I don’t sound like too much of a tw*t for going on about it, I’m sure tons of you have done far more scary things than this, but I also now that plenty haven’t or wouldn’t and so maybe it’s worth talking about?

The Comfort Zone

A picture of the author presenting at a recent women's conference
Craft Happy's Helen presenting at the conference

We all have a comfort zone. It's the place where we feel safe and secure, where we know what to expect and it’s a great place to be. But most of us will realise that, in order to grow and learn, we need to step outside of it from time to time – and the more often the better!

When we step out of it, we are forced to face new challenges and experiences which is incredibly rewarding and it’ll also make you feel like you want to shout about it. Here are some other benefits:

  • You learn and grow. When you try new things, you learn new skills and knowledge. You also learn more about yourself and what you are capable of.

  • You become more confident. The more you face your fears and challenges, the more confident you will become. You will learn that you are capable of more than you thought possible.

  • You become more open-minded. When you step outside of your comfort zone, you are exposed to new ideas and perspectives. This can help you become more open-minded and tolerant of others.

  • You become more resilient. When you face challenges and overcome them, you build resilience. This is the ability to bounce back from setbacks and keep going.

  • You have more fun. Life is more exciting when you are constantly learning and growing. Stepping out of your comfort zone can help you experience new things and have more fun.

If you want to have a go yourself, here are some tips on how to do it, as well as ideas you can try:

  • Start small. Don't try to do too much too soon. Start by challenging yourself in small ways, such as trying a new food or talking to someone you don't know.

  • Set realistic goals. Don't set yourself up for failure by setting unrealistic goals. Start with small, achievable goals and gradually work your way up to bigger challenges.

  • Take opportunities that come your way. Especially if they feel scary and unmanageable. If your instinct tells you it would be good for you but it feels scary, then it’s probably a great opportunity to grow.

  • Don't be afraid to fail. Everyone fails sometimes. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes and keep trying.

  • Celebrate your successes. When you achieve a goal, take some time to celebrate your success. This will help you stay motivated and keep moving forward.

Things to try:

A picture of conference delegates enjoying an ice breaker activity
Attendees having fun with the ice breaker activity

  • Take a class in something you've always wanted to learn about.

  • Travel to a new place.

  • Introduce yourself to a new person.

  • Try a new food.

  • Take a risk at work.

  • Start a new hobby.

  • Speak up in a meeting.

  • Ask someone out on a date.

  • Volunteer for a cause you care about.

"The comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there."
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