A Comfortable Zone
We have a name for everything familiar, we deem our comfort zone as safe and secure; pretty much anything routine. But what do we call the zone(s) we are not comfortable with? Is it even easy to differentiate between the blurred line that creates our comfort zone. Particularly when it’s an unprecedented experience. It doesn’t have to be what we are comfortable with vs the vast category that is everything else, and we also shouldn’t look at it this way. It is completely normal to feel apprehension toward anything new and unfamiliar, but learning to recognise the power you hold in these scenarios can really help you to make the most of it. Even if it isn’t entirely fun or enjoyable.
It is so easy to become complacent with life, particularly if you don’t take well to change. Now is the time to start embracing the opportunities you’d rather avoid. It might be anything from a graduate assessment centre, a new job or even an evening course. All of these experiences have the tendency to make us nervous, when they shouldn’t. Instead, if we just push our fear of failure to the side and really took advantage of every situation we would learn so much more. Not just about the industry or opportunity but most importantly, about ourself. There’s no way you can’t feel great after achieving something that took a bit of determination.
That feeling of unease and nervousness is vital for learning about yourself. Once you conquer a situation a few times you begin to realise the aspect that made you apprehensive; and so over time that feeling will deflate, until after a while you’ve found your feet, and technique and now you’re not just comfortable you are confident! During my degree, public speaking and presentations would be a regular occurrence. As for a lot of people this use to stresss me out. It’s a bit like that moment your alarm goes off and for a split second you consider homelessness and a lie in. In the run up to the day I would try to find any reason as to why I wouldn’t need to present; yep..debating with yourself is a lose/lose.
Over time I was able to transfer sweaty palms and a dry mouth to ‘lets just get this done’ attitude. I would always volunteer to go first, everyone in my class would hold back for the first few people partly because of nerves but also so they could see how the first couple of presentations would set the tone for the critics. Instead of anxiously waiting for the whole day, I got straight down to it. I made sure I knew my project inside out, which gave me a lot to talk about. That, plus the front of confidence was enough to give a convincing presentation.
Be Open, Don’t Be Pushed
Those experiences not only instilled confidence within myself, but it also gave me time to practice handling myself in tricky and sometimes confrontational situations. In life, especially in work – deadlines and workloads can replace the importance of how nicely someone might communicate with you. So learning how to handle yourself and your responses in a way that reflects well on you and your values is crucial. It’s important in any situation that you can hold your ground, there is nothing good about a yes-wo/man.
Not everyone will agree with you in life, but that doesn’t automatically cancel your point out. Be open to conversation and friendly debate, we all have many messages and lessons we can learn from one another we just need to be open to hearing others out. So don’t be scared to let your voice be heard. In saying that, it’s ok to take a step back from subjects you are unsure about. Use that as an opportunity to absorb the information and ideas being offered.
Compare The Bigger Pictures
Sometimes, the only benefit from something might be that your bigger picture becomes a little more attractive. So that glamorous internship, that actually, might be basic and boring could be the break you need – and the brand your CV needs. A lot of the time Internships will be the scraps that need outsourcing, but you can oversell this on your CV. If it’s your first break into the industry embrace the conversation, programmes and systems used. Learn as much as possible.
If you’ve just accepted an internship or a permanent position, and you’re anything like me. By the end of the first week I would have made up my mind that the job is terrible and not for me. Wait. It. Out. Trust me, it can take some time to settle in to a new environment with new people. I always adopt the probation period as a reflection point, usually between 3-6 months. This is the point your employer will review your position and work, but use this to rethink it for yourself also. That way if you are struggling in the early days, a provisional 6 month review might help you to enjoy the work more, instead of worrying about whether it’s right for you.
To be successful you have to push yourself and you have to take risks, neither of which are easy. This gives us even more of a reason to do it, learn, learn and learn again. We should never stop working on ourselves or our business, so do yourself a favour and start thinking what you can gain from the next experience that sits outside of your comfort zone.