Fri 17 Jul 2020
So often, individuals avoid transforming their lives and careers due to a belief that radical change will require a huge leap of faith. In considering what it will take, they make the mental calculation that convinces them that the status quo maybe isn’t so bad after all.
The danger of this process is that the feelings which triggered the calculation are supressed, until a time in the future when they rise again. At that later point, those feelings are weightier and more challenging to transform. In other words, by not addressing the changes that you want to make now, you are in fact almost guaranteeing that they will be harder in the future!
Regardless of our starting point, doing something new, or changing something that isn’t working for us, can often seem a considerable undertaking. Viewing change in this way is a sure way to stay stagnant. Taking a leap when you are at the beginning of your journey to bettering yourself and creating a greater impact feels big and scary. The key to getting to where you want to go, and to making sure the destination is right this time, is to take a single step and see how it feels to bump up against the edge of your comfort zone.
Picture a child who is learning to walk. The child puts their foot out just a little bit further than where they are now to check that the ground is safe, and then take the step, expecting that they may topple over. Each time they get up and have another go, they are more informed than the time before, and as a result, their comfort zone stretches.
It’s the same for you. You don't need to leap in order to move toward your bigger, more impactful vision. Pacing yourself, step by step, allows you to easily repoint your arrow if it is aiming a little off course. Had I sustained the pace of my corporate life, I would have missed innumerable lessons by not giving myself the chance to reassess my direction. There is no real expansion available from this viewpoint.
You may not have flexed your muscles in a while, but rest assured that you have the strength you need to make change. Consistently taking ‘baby steps’ will take you further and more quickly than standing still for a long time, agonising over whether to move. The distance covering will likely be the same -- if you even take the leap, that is.
Look for nervous excitement
You can move from being deeply fearful to nervously excited in a single thought. Nervous excitement is an emotion that everyone can recognise. It is very different from fear. It has you grinning, eyes wide with an enquiring ‘Can I really? Shall I?’ look on your face. It’s how you know that what you are about to do is a step in the right direction. Seek this feeling out.
This is a feeling I try to generate when I run my retreats at Center Parcs. There are a number of opportunities there that make participants nervous before they reach the childlike joy stage. Waterslides are a great example. Most women over forty need to have a talk with themselves before they do something like that. First, they have to overcome the inner soundtrack of how they look in a swimming costume, and then they need to contend with the height of the slide and the fact that they have absolutely no control over the pace of the raft. Time and time again at these retreats, I have women hugging me because of the absolute thrill of letting go and enjoying themselves like children. Doing something like this gives you evidence that you can do it, and that when you try something that makes you nervous, it can have a massive pay-off.
Stretching the edges of your comfort zone and benefitting from its expansion is much easier than forcing yourself outside of it all the time. Some of the stretches that my clients have taken might seem tiny to another person, but to them they represented significant wins. The best thing about taking a stretch is that most other people aren’t paying attention to the changes you’re making, so there’s no pressure on you to perform to any standards.
Don’t waste time agonising of big leaps and total transformation; instead, look for the action steps that make you nervous and excited. They’re the steps to take. They lie right at the edge of your comfort zone, not beyond it, and they are available to you today.
Susie Ramroop is a mindset coach, speaker and author of 'Be The Leader You Want To See'. She champions women in business to find their focus and do what matters. You can find her on LinkedIn or at www.susieramroop.com.
Susie is also a contributing speaker at our hugely popular ‘Women into Leadership’ events. You can find more information about these events via the dedicated website.
Photo by Jordan Christian on Unsplash.
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