With the start of the new year, there’s no shortage of inspirational quotes that tell you to break out of your comfort zone, start new habits, and live the life you dream of. The world begins at the end of your comfort zone they say. Social media abounds with inspirational quotes, tips and tricks about meeting your goals. If it were that easy, we wouldn’t need to make New Year’s resolutions for everything we hope to accomplish could be inspired via a daily scroll through our Facebook feed.
Unfortunately for all of us, real life isn’t as effortless as the highlight reel we see on Facebook. Our minds are powerful muscles that will work as hard as possible to create safety and maintain the status quo to protect us from perceived danger. This process happens so rapidly we don’t even recognize how these sneaky, self-limiting mindsets embed themselves into our thinking and affect our daily actions. When we even begin to consider trying something new and stepping outside our comfort zone to reach a new goal, you are likely certain to experience one or all three of these limiting mindsets creep in and take over:
- Anxiety. But not just nervousness, actually an overwhelming fear. The type of fear that comes from incessant overanalyzing how your new goal will impact your job, your family and your partner. Anxiety on how people will perceive you or react to you on social media. It’s the anxiety that comes from stumbling through a brand new path, trying to feel your way around without looking like a total idiot. And guess what? That feeling is totally NORMAL! In fact, research shows that the brain hates ambiguity, and anything new will make your mind burst with anxiety as it attempts to make new connections to establish and normalize a new routine. It’s similar to feeling fear – fear of the unknown in this case, which tells your brain that something is dangerous, and must be avoided.
- Feeling Like a Phony. The little devil in your brain tells you stories to keep your mind in its perfect little spot. Stories like, “Don’t do this – it’s not you. People will see through it all.” Your comfort centers in the brain work really hard to maintain their sense of balance and harmony. You’re ego is to blame here. The ego loves to be known, comfortable and in charge. Ego says, “This is who I am – I will do anything to protect me.” But who are you, really, other than a projection of your OWN imagination? The most successful entrepreneurs and leaders move through the hesitation of reinventing themselves often. They put forth the body language and actions of who they want to be, not who they already are.
- Failure. Sometimes multiple times. Fear of failure or embarrassment is one of the main reasons people fall back to their status quo zone. Or, they adopt the mentality of, “If I don’t try then I can’t fail.” Yet, not trying at anything sets you up for a lifetime of failure to launch anything new. In fact, perfectionism stems from an intense fear of failure – perfectionism is not a healthy striving for achievement, it’s the thought that if I look perfect, act perfect then I can protect myself from the shame of not succeeding.
Ambiguity. Ego. Perfectionism. The three limiting beliefs that sneak into your thinking and create a mindset keeps you from acting on your goals. They work together by weaving together an intricate, yet false, story in your head of why you shouldn’t take a new risk, start a new project or maintain your New Year’s Resolutions. They create this inner dialogue in your head to maintain that warm and cozy place, the status quo known as your comfort zone.
The good news – we are all just average humans with the same human brain. What separates the people who seem to crush goal after goal with seemingly natural ease is their ability to recognize that their limiting beliefs are simply a story that their brain creates to protect itself. Then, they choose to act in spite of the story.
How do they do it?
Action 1: They practice. The more you experience the small rewards of doing something in a new way, you’ll gain confidence to take on the bigger tasks. Practice negotiating that salary raise with a friend. Take a new gym class or try some new machines. Take your kids to a different playground. Take in all the good things you notice from this change. In turn, you’ll gain confidence. In the book, The Confidence Code, the authors reinforce this concept several times by reminding us that practice and a willingness to learn create a new story in our heads of, “I can do this. I worked on it. I did it in practice.” Additionally, the people who succeed aren’t always naturals, they practice – alot.
Action 2: They fail forward. Additionally, people who seem to succeed naturally know how to “fail fast.” They EXPECT failure, rapidly learn from it, and apply their learning to perfect their next step. They live in a continuous test and learn cycle that is the opposite of perfectionism. In fact, they know the only path to success is to act quickly, as today’s world doesn’t wait for perfect circumstances.
Action 3: They freely help others. Think about the people that you follow on social media. Why do you follow them? It’s likely because you GET something from them. Ever notice the more successful the leader the more information and help they give out for free? This is not by accident. They genuinely want to inspire and help others with their passions with no expectation of anything in return. They know this ongoing gift they give keeps their minds sharp, inspires a continuous flow of new ideas and exposes them to a continual stream of new opportunities. In a mindset shift of advocating for others, we, in turn, accomplish more. Want to learn to give more? Check out the book Give and Take by Adam Grant.
If you were hoping for some inspirational quotes today to help you push outside your comfort zone, I’ll let you check out your Facebook feed for the latest meme pasted across a beautiful picture of the sunrise. The best way to be that person who makes it look like effortless grace in achieving their goals is to practice, to fail, and to give a bit by advocating for someone else. While you may be experiencing the challenges of quieting your inner limiting beliefs and some pain of sweat equity, you will likely be inspiring many along your way.
Make it a great year!
Reference Links in Text Above:
The Confidence Code: http://theconfidencecode.com/
Adam Grant: www.adamgrant.net