How to take a leap and conquer your comfort zone

The programme ‘The Island’ was a firm favourite in my house a few years back. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, here it is in a nutshell.

Bear Grylls (ultimate survivor/ an adult version of the boy scout who is totally fearless) drops (casually anchors the boat and the occupants have to swim to the shore through invested waters carrying everything they own) a group of women and a group of men to neighbouring, uninhabited islands that are nestled in the Pacific ocean. Each group has a supply of water to last them for 24 hours, a selection of tools, the clothes they stand up in and each other.

Over the next 6 weeks, each group has to find ways and means to not only survive but thrive. Daily duties include building a fire, collecting water (which then must be sterilised on the fire in order to be consumed- hence the fire is being a necessity) and finding a tropical selection of food. On the menu could be anything from a limpet or snail or a fish or snail or even a Caymen crocodile if they are lucky/brave enough. 

This programme has indulged my interest in people watching and group dynamics as the contestants are tested by the treacherous and unpredictable conditions. The inhospitable island takes it toll on its inhabitants one by one – despite the sturdy personalities of some. Several weeks of very little water and even less food can very quickly take your eye off the prize.

As a lover of the Enid Blyton Famous Five books, I would like to think I would enjoy this raw, adventurous, trying experience, however I know myself too well. Yes, I have survived many Glastonbury’s- soaking wet tents/clothes/shoes etc etc and toxic toilets, however festivals remain on the right side of my comfort zone. 

I wanted to explore the area of ‘comfort zone’. In advertising terms, ‘comfort’ evokes many images- cosy duvets, Christmas around the table with an abundance of food and wine, log fires, your favourite jogging bottoms with a snuggly jumpers and decadent hot drinks consumed from the perfect mug. 

However the comfort zone of everyday life is usually far more personal and individuals have their own version of what it looks like.

Here are a few testers:

  • Speaking in public

  • Asking a fairly simplistic question in a group situation which may be seen as ‘obvious’ and therefore make us look stupid

  • Saying no “what will people think, will they say I am selfish?”

  • Starting something new with no guarantees, just a dollop of faith and guts

  • Questioning our own personal margins, when we may have been told “we couldn’t do x / you are not the sort of person to do ‘y’/ what if ‘z’ goes wrong. 

I would like to share with you my 5 strategies that you can experiment with as part of the process of stepping outside your comfort zone. 

1) Acknowledge

Notice what you notice. Don’t be afraid of admitting your fear (you don’t have to do this to an entire room in an AA way, simply to yourself). Notice the signs of the uncomfortable line- what happens to your breathing? How does your body language change? What mind chatter seems to creep in? Which unhelpful behaviour or habits start to reveal themselves? 

2) Break down the process

Where are you on a scale of 1-10? If '10' is conquering the task, how close are you? What number are you currently sitting on? 

Create a timeline from 1-10 and break down the process. Write down the ten step that would you need to take to get you there. 

3) The next number

What actions do you need to take to take you to the next number on the time line. When do you want to get there by? 

Create some action steps for yourself. Be specific in what you want to achieve and start today. 

4) What support can you put in place? 

What gets you in the zone? Getting yourself into optimum preparation mode can dramatically increase your results so start to create your tool kit. 

Here are a few to try

  • Create a playlist of music that gets you motivated and ready!

  • Remind yourself of your 'why'. Why do you want to achieve this? What will you gain? Take a look at the big picture but also the daily impact. 

  • Create an environment that works for you. 

  • Remind yourself of a positive experience or a time when you excelled or exceeded your expectations. 

5) Copy those who have done it and take action

Imagine your role model or someone you admire? What would he/she do in your situation? How would he/she move forward? What information or strategies can you heed from their story? 

What would you do if you were the best in the world at what you did? 

Create a brain storm to find some solutions that you could take and make a plan.