Overcoming Fear: 10 Ways To Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

You need to give a speech, but crowds terrify you. You know it’s time for a raise, but you don’t know how to work up the nerve to approach your boss. The work you’re doing now no longer satisfies, but finding something new is frightening. What if you don’t succeed?

Fear is a valuable thing. It keeps people safe and encourages caution when caution is due. But it’s also a limiting thing: Not everything you’re afraid of deserves fear or caution. And sometimes, moments of bravery are what are needed to make your life better.

So how do you step past the fear? Below, members of Coaches Council talk about the mental tricks they use for stepping outside of their comfort zone.

From top left to right: Adrienne Tom, Gia Ganesh, Frances McIntosh, Patrick Jinks, Nancy Marmolejo, Linda Zander, Susanne Biro, Lianne Lyne, Shauna C. Bryce, Loren Margolis.

1. Remember: Some Of The Best Things Happen When You’re Uncomfortable

In times of stress or discomfort, remind yourself that some of the best things happen outside a comfort zone. These experiences can both challenge you and help you grow. Commit to giving the situation a try with your best effort, and keep expectations low to alleviate additional pressure. Ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that can happen?” then focus on achieving the opposite result. – Adrienne Tom, Career Impressions

2. Do Small Activities To Challenge Yourself

Best-selling author and podcaster Tim Ferriss shares some unique insights to step out of your comfort zone, which I have adopted as well. Negotiate for a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Lie down in a public place for 10 seconds. Hug a random person. All these activities are geared towards getting you comfortable with doing the commonly unthinkable actions or comfortable trying (like negotiation). – Gia Ganesh, Gia Ganesh Coaching

3. Turn It Into A Learning Experience

Take the focus off the discomfort of stepping out of your comfort zone by asking, “What am I learning about me? What am I learning about the other people in this situation? How can I use the information from the previous two questions in my professional and personal lives?” – Frances McIntosh, Intentional Coaching LLC

4. Coach Yourself

In the spirit of a coach, ask yourself some questions: “What is the worst that could happen? Could I survive it? What is the best that could happen? Would I or others benefit from it? Are there downsides to remaining where I am? What is holding me back?” This simple technique elevates thinking. Here is a variation: What questions would you ask if you were coaching someone out of their comfort zone? – Patrick Jinks, The Jinks Perspective

5. Picture Yourself Filling With Light And Confidence

Take three deep breaths. Think of something that brings you great joy. Picture your whole body filling up with a bright glow, like a light bulb, as you think of your great joy. Repeat an empowering phrase to yourself: “I’m safe,” “I’m cool wherever I go” or “I can do this.” This reduces your body’s stress response and gives you the confidence to step out of your comfort zone. You got this! – Nancy Marmolejo, TalentAndGenius.com

6. Perform Research To Get A Handle On Fears

The mental trick I use is to do the research on what it is you want to do. If you want to skydive, research the topic and the best skydive schools around. Also, get out and watch and talk to others who are doing what you aspire to accomplish. Research breeds knowledge, and knowledge breeds confidence. – Linda Zander, Super Sized Success

7. Become Familiar With Discomfort

Living outside of one’s comfort zone is by definition uncomfortable. Therefore, the best habit you can foster within yourself is the practice of becoming familiar with discomfort. A great way to do this is to pick one thing each day that scares you and go and do it. You are scared and you act. Repeat daily for a year. You will be amazed at how what once scared you is now commonplace. – Susanne Biro, Susanne Biro & Associates Coaching Inc.

8. Clearly Visualize Success

Often when people are asked to step out of their comfort zone, they think of all the things that could go wrong. Instead, close your eyes and clearly visualize what a successful outcome looks like. Where are you? Who is with you? What are you doing? What does success feel like? Create that powerful image each time you feel fear stepping out of your safe zone. – Lianne Lyne, PLP Coaching, LLC

9. Embrace A Role

Celebrities use alter egos to experiment with facets of their personalities and to step outside their comfort zones. But anyone can use the technique. Want to be more comfortable walking into a roomful of people? Imagine an alter ego who is confident in that situation. Put on that alter ego and really inhabit it. Over time, you’ll get more comfortable. Eventually, you won’t need the alter ego. – Shauna C. Bryce, Bryce Legal Career Counsel

10. Don’t Go At It Alone

We tend to think that we are alone in our fear of the unknown. When trying something new, enlist a trusted friend, colleague or mentor with whom you can share your concerns. Ask them how they got through their fear of stepping outside of their comfort zone. Not only will this collaboration give you a shoulder to lean on, but you will also learn new tricks of the trade on how to take the risk. – Loren Margolis, Training & Leadership Success LLC

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