Who doesn’t want to wake up to the sweet smell of success? But first, you have to get out of your comfort zone…
Whether you want to grow your side hustle into a lucrative business, study further or become healthier, it takes hard work.
‘The truth about breakthroughs is that they do happen, but not out of thin air. Like crops, they’re planted, cultivated and ultimately harvested,’ says Natalie Rabson, educational and career expert from Boston City Campus & Business College. ‘While achievers in different areas – academics, career, sport, business and others – may appear to have overnight success, their accomplishments are most often based on the accumulative impact of continuous effort which pushes them outside their comfort zone. Our comfort zone is that happy place where we feel safe and unchallenged with our routines and other familiar factors.’ Operating in this space, she adds, leads to unchanged performance or competency. ‘On the other hand, setting impossible goals with ridiculous timeframes can result in under-achievement or burnout from pushing too hard.’
Now vs Later: where do you want to be?
Compare your current situation with where you want to be. ‘As a working mom, your days are spent doing school runs, preparing supper, running a home, and maintaining family and social relationships. While your family comes first, you
need to make yourself a priority as well in order to achieve your goal,’ says Natalie.
She suggests taking the following steps:
- Write down the goal you want to achieve.
- List the obstacles between where you are and where you want to be. Then work out and write down the steps needed to overcome each obstacle. Remember, you don’t need to know everything in advance – some of the solutions will unfold along the way.
- Find a symbol or picture that represents you achieving each of these steps and post it on a vision board or a whiteboard in your study.
- Every morning, look at this picture and imagine your small business growing, getting more clients for your freelancing venture, walking across the stage to collect your PhD degree, or whatever your goal is. Keep this
goal in your mind 24/7.
- It’s vital to create in your mind a picture of your steps along the way. So, for example, see yourself registering for a PhD and writing a thesis that will earn you this academic accolade.
Stress is necessary
‘While stress is usually perceived as something negative, a certain amount of it is necessary to evolve to a new level
of competency,’ says Natalie. In order to maximise performance, you need to move beyond your comfort zone to a place of
optimal anxiety, where you’ll experience slightly higher stress levels than usual. ‘The “good stress”, or eustress, zone is where elite performers, academics and the like play. This middle ground is where, for example, a challenging work assignment pushes you beyond your capabilities, so you learn and move to the next level without it being too tough.’
Start today, thank yourself later
Set aside time to work or exercise without distractions like social media so that you can focus. ‘One of our Boston graduates, Tessa Bircher, is a full-time working mom who wanted to achieve more in her career,’ says Natalie. ‘Her COO told her she needed a degree, saying: “A year from now, you’ll regret not having started today.” That same day, Tessa applied online for a BCom in management marketing. Despite challenges along the way, three years later she graduated and achieved her career goals.’
Learn from her:
- Set up a new schedule to accommodate your family, your personal life and the steps needed to achieve your goal. If possible, adjust your working hours to create time to be with your kids.
- Set aside time in the evening to dedicate to your studies or plan for your new business.
- Don’t forget date night! Make time to nurture your relationship.
- Minimise Internet usage (unless it’s related to your studies or research) and time spent on social media.
- Call on your partner, family and friends for support when you need to meet assignment deadlines or study
Be a kid again
Why? Because kids are fearless! Although it’s human nature to be scared of the unknown, you have to learn to take a risk. The thought of failure often prevents people from taking that leap of faith towards getting what they want. ‘How do we combat this fear that pervades our lives? And why don’t we have the same fear for our kids? We’re able to push them to take that first step, see that it’s not so bad, and then push them to take another one. We need to talk to our inner child in the same way. Just take the first step!’ urges Natalie. She offers these tips:
Imagine the worst: Natalie often advises her students to imagine the worst that could happen. ‘So you’ll advertise your
art classes and no-one will sign up, or you’ll fail an exam. Yes, it could happen. But if you’ve imagined the worst and have an idea of how it would feel, you’ll be able to cope.’
Use failure to your advantage: Change your perspective of failure. Think of it as feedback you need to improve your strategy. It’s showing you what is and isn’t working. Perhaps you need an additional skill or advice from an expert.
It’s not permanent: Failure is something temporarily happening to you – it’s not defining you and it isn’t permanent. If
plan A fails, move on to plan B.
Say ‘hello’ to a new you!
Natalie offers these practical steps to make a clean exit from your comfort zone:
- Break your goal down into manageable steps – for example, waking up an hour earlier every morning to do 30 minutes of cardio exercise before prepping your healthy meals for the day.
- Start with a small, achievable goal, knowing that you’re moving yourself one step closer to your goal and have realised that you can leave your comfort zone. Baby steps lead to success.
- Change is uncomfortable, but learn to see it as a way to your new life and identity – something necessary which leads to exciting opportunities.
- Visualise yourself taking action, despite your fears and obstacles.
- Have faith in the process and empower yourself with positive self-talk. Every morning, evening and throughout the day, make this your mantra: ‘I can do this; I’m determined to win and I’m going to achieve my goal.’
- Speak to a coach, mentor, entrepreneur, friend or colleague. We all need a gentle push along the way.
- Be realistic: there’ll be challenges, but the most important thing is to keep taking action. Just as the most energy-intensive part of a rocket launch is the first 30 seconds, so is the energy needed to start you on your own journey.
FEATURE: NOLWAZI DHLAMINI PHOTO: STOCK.ADOBE.COM