Picture this: you've just made a decision that scares the hell out of you. Your mind is racing, your heart is beating faster, and you're breaking out into a cold sweat.
Wait, what? As Richard Branson notes in his blog post, the magic happens outside your comfort zone -- and because of that, you should create more moments where you feel like you're facing a huge challenge.
Branson's advice? Get to the point where you think "Oh crap, maybe this wasn't such a good idea" and ponder giving up. Once you get through this stage of self-doubt, and make it out the other side, that's when the good stuff happens.
How to break out of your comfort zone: 4 tips from Richard Branson
Want to break out of your rut, and step out of your comfort zone? Read on for some helpful tips from Branson...
No. 1: Don't be afraid.
Let's face it: deep down, we're all afraid of doing something dumb, and looking stupid in front of our employees and colleagues.
But don't let your fear control you, or hold you back from trying something new. As Branson says, anything feels a little odd the first few times you do it -- but the more you do it, the more comfortable you'll start to feel.
No. 2: If you're not sure what you should try, start small.
Here, Branson's original tip is to try anything that puts you outside of your comfort zone, even if it's as small as experimenting with a new recipe, or reading a book in a new genre.
In the context of entrepreneurship, I'd interpret this as: start small, instead of choosing not to start at all.
For instance, say you want to work on optimizing your company website for SEO. Now, we all know SEO is super intimidating, and there are 101 technical terms that you need to understand before you even get started.
Bearing this in mind, your knee-jerk reaction might be to postpone working on your SEO indefinitely... but obviously, you shouldn't do this. Instead, start small, and just read one guide to SEO. Slowly build up your knowledge, then get in there and start fixing your site.
No. 3: Keep a journal.
In Branson's words: when you try something new, write it down. What did you like/dislike about about it? Did it spawn any other ideas?
Going out of your comfort zone -- and reflecting on your efforts -- can go a long way in sparking your creative juices. The next time you find yourself low on inspiration, try doing something new!
No. 4: Persevere.
Branson's final tip is to not give up on something straight away -- because it's rare that people are good at something on their first try.
This one is fairly straightforward: just don't give into the temptation of quitting. Stick it out, and chances are that you'll get better eventually.
How I stepped out of my comfort zone, and stopped being a control freak.
Personally, I've been running my business for 13+ years -- and I've stepped out of my comfort zone on more occasions that I can count.
One example that comes to mind is when my business started to grow, and I started to feel overwhelmed by the number of emails that flooded my inbox every day. On top of that, I was also struggling to keep track of my schedule.
Now, the obvious solution was to hire an assistant to help me get things organized. This idea freaked me out, though -- I wasn't comfortable with having someone read and reply my emails, AND decide my weekly schedule on top of that.
I kept questioning myself: How can I let a stranger decide which of my emails are important, and which are not? What if they screw up? What if they offend my customers? And how can I possibly let someone dictate my weekly schedule?
In the end, though, I decided that I had to embrace my fears, and give this a shot. Of course, things weren't smooth-sailing from the start. It was quite the opposite, in fact -- my inbox was a huge mess, and my schedule didn't make any sense.