Let’s face it. Growth and comfort do not coexist. And the level of discomfort that needs to occur to make a change is different for each of us. As humans, we’re not necessarily “wired” for instant change. Whether it’s something that’s pushing you — or pulling you — it generally takes a big catalyst to get into major action for change. The act of stepping outside your comfort zone, though, is not only vital to your success, but also to your ability to grow, explains Elle Kaplan, CEO of Lexion Capital, in her short list of empowering actions:
1. Ask for what you want
2. Get up early
3. Say no
4. Take compliments
5. Give and take critical feedback
6. Admit mistakes
7. Overcome procrastination
8. Let go
Ask For What You Want
Years ago I took part in a seminar series, Life Design. A big takeaway from the first seminar was a handout entitled “The Five Points of Power.” The last point was:
Ask For What You Want — all of what you want, without withholding.
This point has always stuck with me. (It probably helps that I have the magnet describing these points of power on my bathroom mirror.)
While it sounds so simple, it’s actually quite profound. That’s because we often stop ourselves from really “going for it.” While this requires courage because we face the possibility of being rejected, the looming “what ifs” can be much harder to live with than any turndown.
Get Up Early
If you’ve ever studied the habits of successful people, you’ve likely found this common characteristic. Everyone from Mark Zuckerberg to Jeff Bezos to Richard Branson points to their rigorous morning habits as a key to their success. And research shows those who adopt morning routines have a greater ability to take action to shift things in their favor.
It’s up to you to design your own routine. That could mean setting the alarm to get up a little earlier — or getting up at your regular time and having the discipline to resist the urge of outside influences.
Rather than being bombarded by email requests or the morning news, it’s better to take a little time to focus on what is most important to you. Maybe it’s only ten minutes to read something inspirational — or reflect on the things in your life that make you grateful. You just might be surprised at how this one little tweak at the beginning of your day can improve the quality of your life.
Just Say No
If it’s hard for you to say “no,” you’re more likely to experience stress, research shows.
Saying no to new requests or invitations helps to honor your existing commitments and keeps you from getting overwhelmed and going on tilt. While it may be uncomfortable — and you may feel like you’re letting someone down — you need to remember to “put your own oxygen mask on first.” Because you’re more than likely letting yourself down — over and over.
If your first reaction to a compliment is to downplay it, you’re in good company. This tends to happen a lot. In an effort to be modest, you could be hurting yourself, though. Over time, these repeated actions can actually start to erode your self-confidence.
If you feel you need to say something else besides “thank you,” try adding another short phrase. An empowering response could be, “Thank you. I appreciate that.” And leave it there.
Give and Take Critical Feedback
As Bill Gates has said, “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”
While this is never easy, try listening to feedback without taking it personally or making assumptions. And, on the flip side, see if you can come up with some tactful ways to encourage someone else. Start with baby steps. This one takes lots of practice.
Taking responsibility is challenging. Generally, our first response to a sticky situation is to rationalize our behavior.
Talk about uncomfortable! The good news, though, is that mistakes can be turned around.
Learning to admit mistakes will help you to earn respect, lead by example and build a culture of trust. Don’t you find it refreshing when someone else steps up and admits a mistake?
While we all procrastinate from time to time, successful people do something most others don’t. They stop making excuses — and push forward.
It’s easy to put off tasks until tomorrow. The problem, however, is that tomorrow turns into the next day and the next. Take a look at your list, and be realistic. Add in more time than you think things will take.
Accountability is key — especially when it comes to making promises to yourself. In a work setting, your boss may provide accountability. The real prize is being accountable to yourself — when nobody is watching over your shoulder. Because that’s where your sense of self-trust is made or broken.
“If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?” I love this quote by author T.S. Eliot.
As you start to invest in yourself and grow, you become more aware of the people and things that were previously holding you back. This may be in the form of a bad relationship, perfectionism, insecurities or addictions.
When you let go of what no longer serves you, you’ll be amazed at the energy this frees up for you.
So, go get uncomfortable. And start growing!