You can move out of your comfort zone and accomplish the seemingly impossible the same way as Beyoncé. If fear is holding you back, try a few of these powerful tips to focus differently and you’ll be well on your way to leaving your comfort zone behind and living a more productive, stress-free life.
Let’s be honest – you’re afraid. Whenever you want to try something new, something you haven’t done before, something that will move you to a new level of accomplishment, those same thoughts start racing through your head.
“I might fail. People will laugh at me. What if I prove to myself that I can’t do it? What if no one wants to work with me again?” And on and on. When it comes to fear, there’s no shortage of destructive thoughts you will use to sabotage yourself.
Fortunately, there are several sure-fire ways to leave your comfort zone behind by focusing differently. Here are 3 of the best ways to quickly move from fear to confidently accomplishing those seemingly impossible goals (spoiler alert, no. 3 is Beyoncé’s technique, but 1 and 2 are also incredibly powerful).
One of the simplest ways to erase fear and move fearlessly out of your comfort zone is to pre-rehearse your desired reality. Fear is often caused by the unknown. The more you can become familiar with the territory beyond your comfort zone, the less scary it becomes and the easier it is for you to embrace it.
To pre-rehearse your way out of your comfort zone, first write it down, then visualize, then rinse and repeat.
If you have to give a speech before a large audience and you’re terrified to speak in public, start by writing down in outline form what this will look like from start to finish. How will you stand when you enter the auditorium? How will you breathe? What feelings will you have? What thoughts will likely go through your head?
If you’re nervous, what will you do? Will you repeat a calming mantra in your head, or take three slow breaths, or imagine the audience in their underwear (the last one never worked for me, but some people swear by it)? The specific method you use to deal with your unproductive emotions isn’t so important as having a method that you have determined and practiced in advance.
Next, outline what you will say, how you will respond to questions if there is a Q&A, how you will recover if your jokes falls flat. Essentially, create a written plan of the entire process, allowing for dealing with contingencies and managing your emotions.
Once your detailed plan is written down, go over it in your mind. See yourself in the situation, moving step by step through the process as written down in your outline. By writing everything down first, your visualization will be more focused, productive and effective. If visualization seems to “woo-woo” for you, simply think of it as mental rehearsal – the same mental rehearsal that works so well for Olympic athletes, elite musicians and other peak performers.
The last step of rinsing and repeating is key. It’s not enough to do this once. Regular practice is what will transform the uncomfortable into the comfortable and empower you to accomplish what now seems out of reach.
The pre-rehearsal method works just as well with a goal that requires a process as it does with a one-time event like a speech. If you plan to lose weight, run a marathon, or get your great American novel published, follow the same steps of writing down the process and noting the places in the process where you experience thoughts and emotions that hold you back. Then mentally rehearse making it happen.
2. Set a deadline.
This is key to doing the work you must do to deal with life outside your comfort zone, and in fact, to dealing with any kind of procrastination. We tend to put off whatever is uncomfortable, convincing ourselves that other tasks are more important, feeling guilty that we are not doing what we said we would do, and yet feeling powerless to confront the fear that is standing in our way.
As I’ve written elsewhere, what gets scheduled gets done. If there are specific steps you need to take to accomplish what is outside your comfort zone, scheduling time in your calendar to work on those steps is a great way to focus on what you are currently avoiding.
Designate a block of time to work on your out-of-comfort-zone task. Determine beforehand exactly what you will do during that time. If at all possible, work in a place where you are free from distraction and will not be disturbed. If you don’t have such a place at home or at work, the local library is often an ideal and nearly distraction-free setting.
If your work involves multiple steps over a period of time, then set a start date, an end date, a specific number of work sessions that will take place between the two, when the work sessions will happen and what will be done during those times. Your scheduled work should also include the previously discussed written outline and mental rehearsal sessions.
It’s important to treat these scheduled work sessions as a non-negotiable meeting with yourself, to be put aside (but immediately rescheduled) only in the case of true emergencies. By focusing your tasks during specific, pre-determined times, with a deadline for completion, your chances of doing the necessary work to move beyond your comfort zone are exponentially greater than if you simply add the tasks to your to-do list and hope for the best.
An added bonus of scheduling your work and imposing deadlines is that you will get a realistic picture of the time required to accomplish your goal, and whether other parts of your life need to be re-prioritized.
3. Embrace your alter ego.
This is the most radical but possibly the most powerful of these three steps. You‘ve surely heard of Beyoncé – though you may not have heard of Sasha Fierce. But you should know about Sasha, because she’s responsible for much of Beyoncé’s success.
Beyoncé created the persona of Sasha Fierce early in her career to help her give the best, most confident and inspiring performances of which she was capable. Before stepping on stage, Beyoncé stepped into the character of Sasha Fierce. In her mind, she literally became Sasha Fierce. As she relayed to Oprah, “Usually when I hear the chords, when I put on my stilettos. Like the moment right before when you're nervous, then Sasha Fierce appears, and my posture and the way I speak and everything is different."
If Beyoncé can rely on an alter ego to bring the best out of herself, then you can too. Your alter ego can be a real person whose qualities you admire. Or it can be your own uniquely created persona, like Sasha Fierce. It’s up to you and the sky’s the limit. You’re not creating anything artificial. You’re simply tapping into abilities you already possess, and then getting out of your own way so you can utilize them.
You may shake in your boots when giving a speech – but your alter ego speaks calm and confidently. You may have difficulty resisting the food that will take you off your diet – but your alter ego eats only healthy food.
Now imagine if you use all three of these tools – you step into your alter ego, outline and mentally rehearse what you need to be doing, and schedule your work so it gets done. Before long, you will have forgotten why it used to be so hard to move outside your comfort zone.
Let me know what’s working – in the comments below or on my Facebook page. And feel free to write to me with any questions or challenges as well.