Sope Agbelusi

By Sope Agbelusi, Founder of Mindset Shift

The global standstill brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic left many of us confronted with the realisation that we were ready for change.

With each lockdown came time to reflect, gain a better understanding of ourselves, and explore new territory outside of our comfort zones.

The comfort zone is a safe, beautiful place where generally speaking 90% of people live and operate from. It’s a place where we talk a lot, but we don’t act and where procrastination restricts growth.

Marcus Aurelius once said: “It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”

Beyond the comfort zone, fear resides and this tends to keep a lot of us trapped. We’re riddled with thoughts such as: What would happen if I try to do this? What if I fail? What are people going to say about me?

Speculation about how the world’s going to react, and feelings associated with failing prevent us from moving forward, stop us from growing and elevating. But in order to embrace the unknown it requires stepping outside of your comfort zone – with the first manoeuvre being stepping past the fear and anxiety…

Eliminate fear first

From young our brains are conditioned to save us from potential danger so it’s perfectly normal to harbour feelings of fear or to be anxious about change. However, you can only start to take control and shape your life when you own your fear and anxiety. You need to make the choice not to run away from discomfort but instead embrace it as this is where authentic growth happens.

Granted it’s no easy feat, but once you’re able to navigate through your worries you will develop a new perspective. The right approach coupled with the right self-awareness will help you to handle situations correctly which will allow you to keep on growing, evolving and learning.

And should you face failures, it’s important to learn the lesson and to be both patient and intentional with the next step.

Write your story

We often give ‘our’ pen to other people to write the story of our life. Rather than owning and directing our life, we end up playing a character based on a narrative that others have written for us.

At times it’s easy to be paralysed by the scenarios we play out where things go wrong to the point of no return. Instead, you should get a notebook and jot down all that could go wrong, write down your fears and what you think is holding you back but then also write down all the things that could go right.

Consider what life could potentially look like if you stepped outside of your comfort zone. Ask yourself questions such as: What do I need to do today to get to where I want to be tomorrow? What habits, practices, skills, savings, people, etc do I need to start and stop?

This is about beginning with the end in mind and visualising which has a strong scientific basis. Then create a goal around that vision including potential hurdles you will have to overcome.

Change is constant

Greek philosopher Heraclitus famously affirmed: “There is nothing permanent except change.” One thing you can be sure of is that life never stays the same; something which has been amplified in the wake of the pandemic. But while you can’t predict what each day brings, you can predict how you react to each situation that life presents.

When you’re comfortable with the uncomfortable, you will quickly learn how to react and deal with situations that life throws at you on a constant basis. The ability to let go of safety crutches – whether it be a job title or a preferred working location or even a relationship – enables you to develop a callous attitude and a mindset prepared to take on change.

Just do it!

When it comes to stepping outside your comfort zone, there are so many more tips I could offer but the most important one is to simply just make the move. You can assess the risks, build the best pitch, and map out your plan of action in the greatest detail but truthfully all of those things will stop you from taking that first step.

There is such a thing as too much preparation that sends your brain into overdrive and it can also be a form of procrastination.

Sometimes stepping into nothing can open doors to everything; you just need to start and then figure things out as you go. You’ll also be surprised how by just getting started you find that the right people will come along and support you because they see you are being intentional.

People want to know that you’re serious about what you’re keen to achieve in that job, company or relationship. It’s important to just start.