HR & Management

Stuck in a rut? 7 ways to keep moving forward

7 min read

28 March 2015

Feel like you may have hit a bit of a brick wall business wise? Here are 7 ways to push yourself out of your comfort zone.

Perhaps you can’t seem to get it together to go after those bigger, more lucrative clients? Or maybe that next stage of your business plan is starting to feel like too much of a leap to contemplate? 

While we know that the key to new business successes often involves stepping outside of one’s comfort zone, this can sometimes prove a challenge. 

Here are my tips on breaking out of your comfort zone to go for what you really want.

1. Identify your fears

The first step in facing fears is to put a name to them. Why have you never signed up for that SEO course that you’ve bookmarked? Are you afraid it’s going to be too technical? Or perhaps you just can’t face up to the fact that something will have to go to make time for this new task? Why haven’t any of your leads recently come to anything? Are you relying on the same old presentations and material? What’s keeping you stuck?

2. Choose an approach

Think about how people get into a chilly swimming pool. Some dive in, eager to get it over with and get swimming whilst others tip-toe in, slowly acclimatising themselves to the temperature. There’s no right way to get into the pool, the important thing is that you choose your approach and manage to in! 

The same goes for your approach to business. Are you the type that needs to plunge in and get it over with, or do you need to slowly and gently nudge yourself out of your comfort zone? 

3. Pick yourself up and keep moving forward

Big picture thinking can be powerful but sometimes you have to put that aside or break things down, dealing with each wobble or issue as it arises. 

Allow for mistakes, they are inevitable and part of the process. Practise picking yourself up over and over again. If you hit a dead end, try a different way. Entrepreneurs are famous for acknowledging that their failures have contributed to their success. Remind yourself that you are brave enough.

Read about more ways to challenge yourself in business:

Jamal Edwards: “Amazing ideas to kickstart businesses are hindered by lack of belief”

Why entrepreneurs need to change their mindset on building skills

Leadership: A look at the optimum tenure length for a company’s chief

4. Use your values

Take time to identify your core personal values. They not only serve as reminders to represent what you want to stand for and how you wish to act in the face of change, but can also be used like a compass to keep you going in the right direction…for you. 

If you want to make changes, use your values to inspire you. For instance, if having a social responsible aspect to your work is an overriding value, read stories about successful social enterprises and how you can adopt some of their practises, connect with them on LinkedIn, and look at what one thing you can do today, in your business, that will make a difference. 

Read on to find out how brand factors in.

5. Take care of yourself

While it requires some courage to step outside of your comfort zone, you don’t want it to result in a traumatic experience! Do all of this while looking after yourself emotionally, practically and spiritually. 

Support yourself in every way that you can and solicit the support of others as needed. It may be that you decide you need a mentor or business coach at this time, or look for an experienced financial adviser who can work with you. Expanding your comfort zones is a time of great growth. Try to be realistic and avoid extremes, be they pulling all nighters at the office, or a week of boozy networking events.

6. Use your outer branding to keep you moving

If you know in what direction you want to go, consider making external changes to help you get there. 

For instance, one client wanted to move from a strait-laced banking background into fashion. While reframing his existing skills and rewriting his CV was a big part of this process, encouraging him to adopt more colourful clothes and become more playful with his appearance (both in person and online) helped his mentally move into that world even before he physically got there.

If you’re hoping to move into a different business climate, what can you do to make yourself feel more at home there, and look the part? It may be that you upgrade your suit, invest in a beautiful handbag or even dress a bit more casually to seem more approachable.

7. Build acceptance around fear and move with it

Ours is not a risk friendly society. After all, as humans we have an aversion to risk within our DNA, but what’s important is to recognise that it stems from a time when life was a lot more risky, when real dangers such as sabre-toothed tigers could literally be around the corner. 

Most of the time, stepping outside of our comfort zones doesn’t carry the same level of danger as a tiger in the room, but we can still respond to risk with the same “fight or fight” response, a “misfiring” that paralyse us. 

Practise taking small risks and get used to how this feels while building acceptance around feelings of fear, knowing that it is a completely normal human experience. Keep making steps forward even while feeling the fear. This will slowly but surely help you move past that comfort zone!

Lisa Orban is a chartered clinical psychologist and personal branding consultant, and the founder of Golden Notebook.