10 Tips for Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone and into a More Balanced Career & Life


By Erin Knothe (FPRA Dick Pope/Polk County Chapter)

The mindset that blogger, freelancer and yoga instructor Jessica Lawlor lives by is inspired by Neale Donald Walsch’s quote: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

Stepping outside your comfort zone could be different for everyone. How do you know if you’re pushing far enough? A good way to think about it:

“If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.”

In her presentation at the Florida Public Relations Annual Conference in August 2016, Jessica cautioned that some of the tips for stepping outside your comfort zone might not fit everyone, but use what works for you. Here are her 10 tips:

1. Be present. Instead of worrying about things that have happened or things that are to come, embrace the present. Tools such as the meditation app Calm or classes like yoga can help you focus.

2. Have big goals, but take small steps. Listing out steps and setting deadlines can make goals achievable.

3. Develop a beginner’s mindset. Jessica used the example of her sister trying yoga for the first time to explain how beginners are generally wide-eyed and open to believing that possibilities are endless. How can we bring the same mindset to things we do every day? What if you applied that to hobbies, relationships, work?

4. Practice energy management. Energy management is doing things at the time of day that matches your energy level. For example, you might feel the most awake and energized in the morning, so use that time to do important work and leave your time in the afternoon for menial tasks.

5. Form and stick with habits. It takes 66 days to form a habit, so stick with it.

6. Say no, or create a reverse to-do list. By creating a reverse to-do list, you can see what you are eliminating out of your life. You can still use those “no’s” to create other opportunities. For example, Jessica receives emails asking advice on various topics, so sometimes she’ll write a blog post about the topic. She’s still helping the person, but she’s being resourceful with her time.

7. Find someone to hold you accountable. An accountability buddy is one person to check in with you to make sure you’re on track. Setting up a mastermind group of four or five people can help you make decisions or garner ideas.

8. Let go of what no longer serves you. Protect your energy. For Jessica, her goals related to this tip are avoiding doing things the way they’ve always been done, over-scheduling herself, feeling like she needs to do exactly what’s expected of her, and being a slave to her inbox.

9. Trust your instincts and LISTEN. Sometimes events unfold that make life difficult. Take a step back and slow down to get back on the right track.

10. Celebrate your wins. Acknowledge the good that you’ve done. If you’re climbing a mountain, stop and take in the view instead of planning to climb the next mountain. Similarly, take the time to celebrate and enjoy your victories when you’ve worked hard. Leaders especially can benefit from acknowledging the work of their team.

Jessica closed with the caveat that the aforementioned tips are simply tips. It’s up to you to do the hard work and figure out what stepping out of your comfort zone looks like.

Her final inspirational quotation from Margaret Shepard summed up what it takes to step outside your comfort zone: “Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith.”

Editor’s note: The post was adapted from coverage of a presentation given by Jessica Lawlor, communications consultant at JessicaLawlor.com and founder of the Get Gutsy Blog. Read the full post here.