Do you play it safe? When was the last time you really tackled something hard?
Do you avoid new scary tasks for fear that you might fail? Or maybe your friends and family encourage you to go for it, but you have trouble grabbing the reins.
Do you avoid situations where you may feel uncomfortable and does the thought of being a little stressed out, make you stress out?
Or maybe playing it safe feels better because you’ve conditioned yourself to believe that if you never fail, get rejected or feel overwhelmed, you’ll feel better about who you are.
My friend, you may be stuck in the comfort zone and it’s killing your business. Worse yet, it’s killing your dreams.
Being comfortable is easy to do. It’s safe. Your brain’s primary job, after all, is to keep you safe. We stay comfortable because our voice in our head always questions anything risky. It doubts our choices if it thinks we’re about to do something that’s going to change the status quo.
Growth takes risk and risk to your brain means you’re heading into danger. That lion is coming for you girl, and you better bolt or brawl with it. Risk means making decisions and choices that aren’t always safe and it’s your job not to mistake fear for intuition that we should stay put.
Let me ask you a couple of questions. Where do you see yourself in five years? Opening a creative business? Leaving your corporate job? Moving to a retail studio? Or maybe tripling your annual revenue?
Dreams are wonderful and give us hope, but they stay put in your mind as simply that — a dream — if you don’t take action and hope is, in my opinion, a four letter word. Why? Because it implies that you may not get what you want. That it may not happen instead of injecting confidence that it will happen no matter what.
Hope. Hope, hope, hope, hope. It’s BS. Thinking big with purpose and productivity behind it is it’s antidote.
Why is it so hard to take action on our dreams? Or why do we take action in short bursts with unbridled enthusiasm only to fall back to old hat and the “safe haven” of the corporate paycheck? It’s a self-deprecating cycle that slowly kills our ambition and forces us to succumb to what our insecure mind deems as inevitable.
The inevitable is the comfort zone. I think it’s an evil place that robs you of your future with down feather pillows on your bed, a monotonously regular routine, food on the table, and a biweekly paycheck. It’s evil because it disguises itself as this heavenly place, but really you’re miserable, torn between what you want and what you think you need. The comfort zone is staying risk-averse out of fear, fear of losing what you rely on whether it’s simply launching a new product line, cold calling a vendor, or actually quitting your day job to launch a full time business.
Fear paralyzes and it does it on purpose to protect you. Anything new to your brain is dangerous, especially if you think it may threaten your wellbeing or cause an old stressful circumstance to trigger.
As women, we often stay in the comfort zone more than men, studies prove this, and often it has to do with our upbringing. Were you encouraged to take a risk as a kid or did your parents tell you to “be careful” all the time? Did they worry that if you tried something big you might fail? That has a big impact on your thinking as an adult. Self-doubt makes us question our decisions and overthinking and perfectionism paralyze us into moving forward. We get mentally stuck and it sucks life out of our progress.
Tolerating anxiety, overwhelm, fear, and heartbreak is what makes us resilient. It’s so important to practice it, even though it’s hard, but remember a feeling — fear, anxiety, whatever it may be — is just a feeling, and a thought is always what triggers that feeling.
Fighting your feelings only makes them feel worse!
You have to be self aware enough to recognize the discomfort and learn to be okay with it. Let it be there. Knowing it will pass and your determination to pursue your dreams will pay off later. We are so ingrained today to want instant gratification, the world seduces us with it. From Facebook to Netflix, to instant convos with friends and video chat, everything is conspiring to distract us. Distract us with the lure of instant gratification at the expense of that boring website, you’re trying to build or the marketing project you know you need to finish. It makes you uncomfortable now, but with detrimental results later and loaded with regret. Regret that you’ve wasted so much time and didn’t take action when you could have.
To make our dreams into plans and plans into action, it takes accepting some discomfort now, to achieve more comfort and happiness later. Let’s flip that script in our heads to accomplish this, but how?
What if you began to accept that you work better with a little risk and anxiety? Studies prove this too. Athletes perform better when a little nervous and stressed out. That nervous energy makes them perform better.
Minor stress causes your senses to heighten and your judgment to sharpen. You’ll make better decisions with a little pressure. Stimulating tasks and mentally challenging obstacles raise your brainpower to new levels.
All feeling stems from thought and all feelings cause some thought. You have to break the cycle by choosing to think differently and that starts with self awareness of your current thinking.
Are you a negative thinker or do you have a growth mindset? Maybe you have a timid one. In the book, The One Thing by Gary Keller — a brilliant writer on productivity business action — he says he was once asked if thinking big was “realistic”. You know what he said? He threw back a question and response. He said, “Do you know what your limits are?” How incredible is that. Think about that.
Someone asked him, “Hey, is thinking big realistic?” and he says, “What are your limits? Do you know what they are?” Of course you don’t. No one knows their limits so worrying about it is a big old waste of time. He goes on to ask, “What if someone told you that you could never achieve above a certain level? That you were required to pick an upper limit to your success? What would you pick?” Big, right?
Big is simply possibility – what’s possible. Believing in big allows you to ask a different question, try new things and open doors to possibility. It’s what you need to have to gain incredible results. No great entrepreneur ever succeeded without thinking big.
Thoughts become feelings which force action, which leads to results.
The only way to get big results is to think big, feel enthusiastic and driven, which leads you to take action on your plans. Big action.
What you do is determined by how you think and how big you think becomes ground zero for how far you’ll go. “What you build today will either empower you or restrict you tomorrow,” Keller says.
Mindset feeds or starves your business. And more often than not, that big, scary mountain that you need to climb? It looks like a small hill when you actually get there. That’s because you’re growing big as you think big and as you take big action.
The “what if” thoughts that will always drop like atomic bombs in your head? What if I suck? What if no one likes my work? What if I can’t get any clients? What if I fail? Those thoughts are simply your protective brain trying to keep you safe when really, it doesn’t know any better.
Your primitive brain isn’t savvy enough to know the difference. When you find yourself saying, “I can’t handle that,” can you? That’s the question.
Worst case, best case, outline them, write down the pros and cons. What’s the worst thing that can happen? What’s the best thing that could happen? And usually it’s somewhere in the middle. If you can handle both the worst and the best case, which chances are you can, you’re going to be just fine.
Ask yourself what’s the primary thought about this new risk, this new decision, this new action plan that I have, that’s stopping me. Can I solve it?
My business coach tells me it’s about changing the words you tell yourself in your head. You have the power to create self awareness around what’s happening in your head. Ask yourself, can you watch your thoughts? Listen to them as an objective bystander? If you can, you’re self aware and that’s the first step and an incredibly empowering place to be.
It takes practice to watch your thoughts and distinct repetition to get it down. But once you’re aware of your thoughts, you have the power to change them, to rewrite your own narrative.
Here’s your action task list for this week’s episode:
Write down your five year plans. What’s that big fat, hairy goal that kind of scares you. Write it down. Write down that big fat, hairy goal, and then write down your thoughts, both good and bad about that goal.
How do those thoughts make you feel? Write that down too. What action do those thoughts lead to? And those feelings? It could be either positive or negative action, or maybe even no action at all. What result does that give you? Do you like it? Do you like that result and are you happy with it?
How can you change your thoughts and beliefs to help you be more confident and moving forward to give you a better result? What will you tell yourself, big or small? Growth, learning and reward or will you shrink and play it small and safe, afraid to fail?
Failing is simply learning. Look back at the times you’ve told yourself you failed. Was it really so? Did you actually truly fail? Or did powerful, positive things come out of it? New opportunities and growth? Embrace failure. It’s the leapfrogging of your life, giving you the gift of getting places fast. Then consider how you’ll feel later, when you realize you spent your life cowering away from dreams and your passion, simply because you’re scared. Or how you’ll feel later when you took a risk learned and managed to get big results from thinking big.
A life truly lived means taking risk and trying is so much better than a life not lived authentically to your dreams.