Getting stuck in a routine is easy to do. After all, we’re creatures of habit. We eat the same breakfast every morning, order the same coffee at Starbucks and get to work at the same time.
But for entrepreneurs, playing it safe could be curtailing business success. When’s the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone and took on a new challenge?
Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo, therapist and author of Better Than Perfect, says people who regularly seek out fresh experiences tend to be more creative and emotionally resilient than those who remain stuck in routine.
“Breaking your own mold can only make you stronger and more confident to reach higher levels in your professional and personal life,” she says.
Innovation, she says, happens when we step outside our comfort zone. Being stagnant in routine often results in plummeting creativity. “In order to be more creative, you have to try new things, see things in a new way, put pieces together in a new manner,” she says.
What holds most of us back from stepping out of our comfort zone, however, is fear. “We have such a huge fear of failure in our society,” says Lombardo. Any new skill always feels awkward and stressful at first, but the more you do it, the more comfortable it will be. Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, Lombardo says, is the key to overcoming this fear.
Here’s how to step out of your comfort zone:
Do it on a regular basis
In order to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, you need to step out of your comfort zone on a regular basis. “The more comfortable you get with trying new things, the less you’re going to avoid it and the more you’re going to say yes to new challenges,” says Lombardo.
You don’t have to throw your entire routine out the window to step out of your comfort zone. Try taking small steps, like driving a different route to work or even moving your desk to a different location. These can help you to get comfortable with the discomfort that comes from trying something new.
Reinterpret your fear
In order to overcome your fear of trying something new, Lombardo recommends re-framing those feelings of fear as feelings of excitement and opportunity. When viewed in this positive light, those butterflies in your stomach will soon be seen as welcoming rather than something that you seek to avoid.
Look for a challenge
“Doing something that challenges you gives you a whole different outlook and makes you more receptive to change,” says Lombardo. When you take on something challenging, you experience an endorphin rush and often feel recharged afterwards.
Focus on the why
Having a mission statement of why you’re stepping out of your comfort zone can help you overcome the fear of doing it. Lombardo recommends writing out the benefits of doing the activity, such as “to build courage” or “to become more creative.” Looking at the why when you start to get stressed out can help bring down your stress levels and make it easier to accomplish the task.