Do you ever think about your dreams—then suddenly realize you’re not sure how to stretch outside your comfort zone to make them happen? Do you ever feel nervous about your dreams—then whittle them down to something that is more “practical” or “doable”?
If so, you’re response is normal. The bad news is, this “normal” response is what keeps so many people from ever going for what they truly want in life.
You see, the reason why you need to stretch outside your comfort zone to achieve your dreams is because that’s where your big dreams live!
To go for your dreams, it is critical to learn how to turn your big dreams into a NEW comfort zone (as opposed to whittling down your dreams to fit them into your current comfort zone).
And the secret is understanding how your mind works, and taking action, so that your mind is working for your dreams and not against your dreams.
Before diving in, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about what your comfort zone is and why it plays such an important part in your life.
Your comfort zone is an established pattern of thinking that is “recorded” in your brain via neural pathways.
Neural pathways are connections in your brain that are created each time you learn something new or have a new experience.
Neural pathways are strengthened each time you experience that same situation over and over again.
The more you experience something, or the more you think about something, the stronger those neural pathways become. This repetition creates your habits, your thought patterns, and your comfort zone.
Let’s look at an example.
Growing up, my father and all of the adults around me, worked for companies as employees. None had ever started their own business or worked for themselves. As a result, working for a company was my comfort zone. For many years I worked for several different companies and I loved it — it was a great experience.
On the flip side, I have a friend who was raised in a family of entrepreneurs. As a result of her upbringing, entrepreneurship was her comfort zone. It was “normal” for her to start her own business and she has never worked for another company as an employee.
When I decided to start Adventures in Wisdom, I was stepping WAY outside of my comfort zone and it made me quite nervous because I knew I needed to create a new “normal” for myself — a new comfort zone. And I used this 5 step process to help me do it. By the way, it’s a great process to share with the kids in your life as well.
5 steps to stretch outside your comfort zone — and create a new one for your dreams:
Step 1: Make a declaration about what you really want in life. Have the courage to dream big! Making a declaration is the first step because it establishes those first neural pathways and fires up both your conscious mind and your subconscious mind to support your dreams.
Step 2: Strengthen those neural pathways by learning everything you can about your dream. Do research, watch videos, interview those who have gone before you, and find out everything you can about where you want to go. The more you learn, the stronger the neural pathways will become. This will also help you with your next step.
Step 3: Create your plan. Big dreams can seem overwhelming when you focus on the end result. Take time to outline a plan for all of the “little results” it will take to get you to your big result.
When we teach kids about goal setting, we teach them how to break up their dream into smaller goals. They then learn how to prioritize each step and assign a start and end date to each goal.
Breaking up your dream into smaller goals will make it look more “doable” and achieving each goal helps build confidence and strengthen neural pathways for success.
Step 4: Practice ways to stretch outside your comfort zone. Stretching outside of your comfort zone builds confidence — even if it’s stretching in an area that is unrelated to your goal.
For example, let’s say that you are also afraid of heights. Challenging yourself to conquer your fear of heights, such as doing a ropes course or going on a zip line adventure, will create powerful self-confidence that will fuel your confidence in other areas of your life as well. The more you practice stretching, the more comfortable you’ll become with being uncomfortable. Trust me, as an entrepreneur, you will have constant opportunities for stretching outside of your comfort zone!
Step 5: Strengthen your neural pathways through visualization and affirmations. At Adventures in Wisdom we talk a lot about the brain science behind the skills we teach.
Two very powerful tools for preparing both your conscious mind and your subconscious mind for success are visualization and affirmations. The key is to visualize yourself having already achieved your goal and to use affirmations of gratitude for having already achieved your goal. Visualizing and celebrating success before you’ve actually achieved it builds neural pathways for success.
Remember that when you’re going for your dreams, you are going to be uncomfortable at times — it will require you to stretch outside your comfort zone and do things you’ve never done before. But you can do it!
Feel the nervousness, feel the fear, feel the anxiety, and go for it! The fear won’t go away until you do the things that you are afraid of. And the best news is, after taking each step, you will gain courage and confidence that will fuel your next big dream.
What is your dream? Declare it and go for it!
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Adventure well, my friend!
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