Set aside your fears and move outside your comfort zone – you’ll soon discover it takes just one step to start a whirlwind positive change.
Working through a never-ending to-do list that seems to hold the very fibres of my life together, I start to feel more than a little overwhelmed. Will I ever get around to signing up for those new yoga classes I’ve been talking about for months? Exactly why did I cancel plans to meet up with an old friend who unexpectedly asked me out for coffee and a catch up? Instead of putting myself out there – whether it’s starting a new class, making new friends or reconnecting with the old – I’m constantly putting things off. Why? Well, to be honest, because it’s scary. What’s more, overcoming the feelings of fear and discomfort can be a challenge. No one said it would be easy, but a life well lived can be the key to both mental and physical wellbeing.
This theory has been championed by Natalie Kirby, a life coach from Open Doors Life Coaching. ‘It’s so easy to procrastinate when it comes to making changes in our lives,’ she explains. ‘But you have to uncover your underlying fears. What is that limiting belief about yourself that holds you back from doing new things? I advise my clients to
think of a time when they managed to extend their boundaries, and to use that as a reference to help remind them that they are competent. It’s always a good idea to look at people you admire. What qualities do you like in them? At the end of the day we’re all human; it’s about having the confidence to take the first step. It’s not about making major life changes; whether with work, your family life or the opposite sex, push your boundaries in a way that doesn’t stretch your comfort levels too much.’
While it may sound like a lot of work and introspection, the rewards are well worth the effort.
The time is now
Although the idea of ‘putting yourself out there’ might seem clichéd, according to Natalie it’s something most modern women feel they need to do more of. ‘We live in a very competitive world, which is good, but it doesn’t always leave
room for concentrating on yourself, and finding your happiness,’ she explains. ‘At the end of the day, it’s all about your mindset. You need to lead by example. Put time and effort into yourself – the more you are able to grow and develop
yourself, the more you’ll be able to help others. No one achieves success without putting in the effort. It’s about achieving balance across the board and in the different areas of your life.’
Creating a life you love
’Once you decide to do something and extend yourself, you need to dedicate the time and effort to keep it going,’ adds Natalie. ‘This is the hardest part. It’s easy to let daily life come in and steer you off track and back into your old habits.’
If you decide to take up a new art class, only you can make that change and do it. ‘You need to take responsibility for your goals – you are in control of them. People have good intentions, but sometimes things come up that derail them. Perhaps your child is sick, and a trip to the doctor means you’ll miss your weekly class. It’s normal, but it’s all about how and what you learn from this. Ask yourself: How do I prepare for it next time so that I can do what I need to
reach my goal?’
Often fear can get in the way and stop you from achieving your goals. It’s easy to think that only introverts need to put themselves out there, but extroverts can benefit too. ‘Without challenging myself, I wouldn’t be the owner of my own successful interior design company,’ says Carrie, 43, from Joburg. ‘People always have this idea that I’m really
confident and together, but just because I’m not afraid to stand up and give a presentation to a room full of people doesn’t mean I’m not fearful!’
Carrie’s dream was to open a business of her own. However, she never quite felt she’d be good enough to go it alone. ‘At the end of the day, it was all in my head,’ she says. ‘I didn’t think people would take me seriously. Doing this also meant I needed to do a refresher course in my studies, which meant going back to school with people who were literally half my age! But as scary as it was, I knew a change had to be made. So I took the first step, set the ball in motion and resigned from my full-time job. And to be honest, I’ve never looked back,’ she smiles.
Experiencing new things helps usher in fresh, new energy that will ultimately make you feel much more empowered.
What about failure?
Most new journeys bring certain challenges. Sometimes you’ll be rejected, but your ability to get back up, dust yourself off and start again is important. Rejections don’t define you, so there’s no reason to let them restrain you! Never let the fear of not feeling qualified/pretty/clever enough stop you from pursuing your dreams.
Natalie explains, ‘There are different types of people in this world. Extroverts find it easy to be social and extend themselves, while those who are more introverted can find it hard to follow through. I suggest to my clients that they
visualise: think of the desired end goal and imagine where they will end up if they continue on the same path. They could become stuck in a rut, and limiting beliefs would remain. I then ask them to imagine that they’ve achieved their goal and to visualise what life looks like now; how does that make them feel. Just imagine if you kept on that path – it’s a very empowering exercise.’
Do it yourself!
It’s easy to let the mundane of everyday living take over our lives: there are bills to pay, mouths to feed and people to please. However, simple changes can help us to live happier, healthier lives. Natalie shares a few clever tips you might not have thought of:
- Identify what is lacking in your life. Pick one or two areas to focus on – perhaps you’d like to take up a new hobby and focus on making more friends? Now you have a base to start from.
- The goal-setting process needs to be specific. Exactly how are you going to reach your goals? Write down a step-by-step process for yourself and set a timeline. You need a clear direction of where you’re going
and how long it’ll take you. You should also feel inspired by your goals. Write everything down, and place your plan somewhere that you’ll see it daily. Read it and go for it!
- Understand that there will be both positive and negative outcomes on your journey. There will be bumps in the road, but take them in and learn from them. The key is to focus on your goal and move forward, taking
little steps one at a time. Sure, you’ll feel anxious on occasion, but that’s just part of making changes in your life.
- Stay motivated and remember – it’s all about the journey. Managed to reach one goal? Set another! The idea is to keep developing and to keep growing. It’s all the little wins along the way that will keep you feeling invigorated.
David Bowie once said, ‘You can neither win nor lose if you don’t run the race’.
Put yourself out there – whatever that might mean to you. Run that race and go after your dreams. Sometimes you’ll win and sometimes you’ll lose, but you’ll never know unless you try. Just take that first step!
COMPILED BY LAUREN FISCHER PHOTO: FOTOLIA.COM