A Life Outside Of Your Comfort Zone: The Benefits Of Conquering Your Fears

Conquer all the fears.

A few years ago, when the trend of big butts was steadily on the rise, I was on a mission to snatch my waist and increase my muscle mass, so I sought the help of a close friend and personal trainer(sup Necye!?).

One day we met up at a local Planet Fitness to start the endurance-building regimen he created for me.

He gave me a simple task: jump over a bench. He demonstrated a few times to show how effortlessly easy the exercise was, but for some reason, when it came time for me to do it, I froze in place.

The task wasn’t necessarily difficult, but I was intimidated by the idea of failure.

I kept thinking of all the things that would go wrong:

  • “What if I trip?”
  • “What if I fall? Omg I would be so embarrassed…”
  • “The bench may be higher than it looks, what if I can’t jump that high!?”

No matter how many methods of encouragement my friend used (affirming words, demonstration, being assertive), my legs would not move. There I stood, frozen in place by my own fear and self-doubt, trying to figure out a way to psych myself into it.

I even got my feet to move a couple of times, but they refused to jump. I was shocked and bewildered at how little courage I had to do something so minute and knew I must’ve looked so stupid.

Suddenly, with minutes left of our hour session, I felt my defenses come down, and without warning, I ran and jumped over the bench, relieved when I felt my feet plant perfectly on the other side.

As silly as it may have seemed, that literal leap took courage, and afterward, I was grateful that I shook my fear and overcame my comfort.

When’s the last time you lived life outside of your comfort zone?

Taking Steps to Overcome

By literal definition, your comfort zone is

the level at which one functions with ease and familiarity

merriam-webster.com

You know that voice that’s constantly making you cancel plans and bail out whenever you’re asked to try something new? That’s your comfort zone.

I know it’s comfortable to settle in a space where everything is easy and you’re in control, but this fear of the unknown is holding you back from your life’s potential.

Although fears can stem from evolutionary instinct and have roots in past experiences, nine times out of ten, our fears are illusions, creations of self-doubt, and lack of understanding.

Conquering your fears and stepping outside of your comfort zone makes you realize how much bigger life is than what exists inside your bubble. I know every time I step outside of mine, I come out relieved.

For example, one of my biggest fears is social interaction. You wouldn’t think so with my cheerfulness and sunny personality, but speaking to strangers is really intimidating. This is based on my traumas from bullying, lack of acceptance, and the scarring of toxic relationships. My social anxieties caused me to be over apologetic and disconnected. I was definitely the type to come up with excuses to avoid hanging out with people. (YES! I’ve got a fever! Now I HAVE to stay home!)

However, these behaviors are counterproductive to my career as a freelance writer. Networking and relationship building are CRUCIAL in the freelance world, so I had to figure out a way to be more social. It was scary as hell at first; my first couple of attempts were jumbled messes of me speaking loud, fast, and fumbling over my words, but I learned to talk calmly with confidence and self-control with practice.

Here are the steps that I take when facing a scary situation. Maybe they can be helpful to you:

  • I breathe it out– My experience with yoga taught me how significant the breath is. It can help you, not only through the most difficult yoga poses but also by calming your mind in the most stressful of situations. If deep breathing can help you through anger, stress, and pain, why not through fear? Give it a try the next time you’re tackling something scary.
  • I build up the courage– Whether it’s pacing back and forth in my living room burning sage, journaling, or talking to myself in the mirror, I build up my mental strength before doing something courageous. Although having encouragement can be helpful, no one can convince YOU like YOU can. Try talking yourself up before stepping outside of your comfort zone. You’d be surprised by how far a few “You can do it!”‘s will get you.
  • I take baby steps– I can’t say that I always go 0 – 100 in scary situations, especially if the fear is tied to a traumatic experience. In cases like this, I micro-dose and build my way up. If you fear open water, for example, try exposing yourself to small bodies of water first and then build on top of that until one day you’re comfortable enough to step into the ocean.

Remember: Although your fear may seem trivial or juvenile to someone else, it’s not ok for anyone to make you feel belittled or invalid. A lot of people take the tough love approach, which can make your fears worse. What you need is patience, understanding, and support in overcoming things at your own pace.

I base a lot of my life goals around stepping outside of my comfort zone, not just for my career but for the sake of personal growth.

Benefits of Stepping Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Living a life outside of your comfort zone comes with psychological benefits like feelings of empowerment and personal growth.

Let’s dive deeper into these concepts.

Empowering

Stepping outside of your comfort makes you feel powerful. The boost in bravery comes from the liberation of staring fear in the face and living to tell the tale.

You realize how you are in control of your life, and that type of mental strength can move mountains. Silentmindsingingbowls.com has a quote about this on their blog post “The Amazing Benefits of Facing Your Fears”

“When we come to personally understand that we can change our own brains, it’s incredibly empowering. We can make ourselves calmer, more creative, anything we want.”

Once you’ve hardwired your brain to be less afraid, you feel like you can do anything.

Personal Growth

Challenging your fear builds character.

I know a lot of people who suffer from low self-esteem due in large part to self-doubt. It doesn’t help when you’re surrounded by people who are feeding into that.

Beware: People who have been limited by fear their entire lives will often try to project those feelings onto you. They’ll convince you that you’re incapable of stepping outside of your comfort zone and that what you’re trying to achieve is impossible because this is their reality.

But once you start tip-toeing on your boundaries of comfort, you’ll be able to blur the lines of your capabilities.

Before you know it, fear won’t even be a contender, and you’ll be achieving new heights of personal growth.

With your new and improved fierce skin, gone are the days when fear is holding you back, allowing you to open doors you swore were closed off to you.

Look, I know the idea of facing your fears and challenging your comfort can seem scary and maybe even a long shot. But I’m living, breathing proof that not only is it possible, but there are enormous payouts.

Ask yourself are you limiting your personal life, growth, and dreams because of your fears?

How much longer will you allow your imaginary boundaries to keep you from living?

Stop getting in the way of yourself. Try something brave today.

Conquer all the fears.

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The Two Major Keys to Achieving Your Goals

Being an independent artist is one of the most soul-fulfilling careers you can ever have. After all, who doesn’t want to get paid to pursue their passions?

Although the market is saturated with millions of talented artists who are all working toward the same goal of making their dreams come true, the reality is that most people will drop out of the rat race before they ever see success.

It’s not because they’re not worthy or for lack of trying, it’s because along the way they lose sight of the two things that are absolutely necessary to achieve their goals : motivation and discipline.

I came to this realization on my own path. Less than a year ago, I decided to become a writer full-time and I never looked back.

I refused to go back to the mundane life of working a 9-5 and I’ve been on my own ever since–just me, my computer, my determination, and my endless collection of composition notebooks and notepads.

I thought it was all I needed to get by but I often found myself staring at a blinking cursor and an empty screen as if I could somehow will the work into existence.

I couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong. The passion was there but try as I might I still found myself falling victim to bad habits, distractions, and inconsistent behavior.

To put a stop to this madness (and to get my life together) I did what all millennials do in times of crisis, I turned to the internet.

That’s when I found this quote on Pinterest

You will never always be motivated, so you must learn to be disciplined

The discovery of this was one of the most profound moments of my adult life and writing career.

I found myself wondering:

  • “Is it discipline that I lack? or motivation?”
  • “What’s the difference?”
  • “Can you have one without the other?”
  • And last but not least “Which of these do I need more of to achieve my goals?”

After months of rummaging through articles and picking the brains of industry professionals, here’s what I learned about motivation and discipline.

How Motivation Works

You can be motivated in one of two ways: intrinsically and extrinsically.

Intrinsic motivation is a motivation that has no intentional ties to a reward or incentive, the sole purpose of you doing it is because of a passion or a strong willingness to do.

Take me writing this for example. I didn’t write this for critical acclaim, fame, or money. I wanted to write this post because I have a desire to help people. I like the idea of using my words and personal experiences to inspire others.

For you, it may look like:

  • Joining a dance class because you love expressing yourself through dance
  • Climbing a mountain because of the thrill or sense of accomplishment
  • Starting your own business because you want to be your own boss

If the ties to your reason why are personal, or psychological, it’s considered intrinsic motivation.

Research suggests that intrinsic motivation is more powerful than its extrinsic counterpart. According to psychologytoday.com, Intrinsic motivation is more effective because “it is integrated into identity and serves as a continuous source of motivation.”

Basically, it hits different when you inspire you.

“It hits different when YOU inspire you”-Kaillaby”

Extrinsic motivation is a motivation that’s related to an incentive or reward. This could be anything from money, praise, or attention.

I definitely have extrinsic motivations, money is the first that comes to mind. I became an entrepreneur because I wanted to live a certain lifestyle and generate a level of income I know I wouldn’t have been afforded working at my office job.

For you, it may look like:

  • Cleaning the house to avoid complaints or nagging from your spouse.
  • Getting all A’s on your report card for the praise or high status.
  • Going to work because you need the money.
  • Giving a good performance at work out of fear of being reprimanded by your boss.

If something or someone else is your reason why then it’s considered extrinsic motivation. Although extrinsic motivation has its benefits (after all, who doesn’t want to be rewarded?) it can be risky if the reward loses its luster. Once you’re no longer impressed by the bribery, you’ll lose your momentum.

It’s important to note that regardless of whether the inspiration is internal or external, for a payout or personal satisfaction, it’s always best to lead with positive reinforcement.

Inspiring through fear (like threats or punishment) or negativity (demeaning or insulting) won’t get you as far. You end up causing more psychological harm than good and it could end up backfiring.

Ruling with fear or scare tactics may be effective in the short term, but that fear will eventually grow to resentment. Once the fear is gone, *poof* there goes the motivation.

You can learn more about the types of motivation from this article I found on psychologytoday.com

How Discipline Works

Discipline requires willpower– it takes mental prowess and structured behavior.

Think of it as the following formula:

Your work ethic x your routine + consistency = discipline.

When it comes to discipline, it’s all about commitment.

Commit. Commit. Commit. Commit.

It’s not enough to come up with a plan, you have to stick to it to achieve your goals, something I didn’t realize was preventing me from achieving success.

Take my skincare journey for example.

I suffer from acne and hyperpigmentation.

I found a skincare system called Curology that I was convinced to try after viewing their ads and reading their testimonials online.

When I first tried it, I thought it wasn’t working because after a few weeks I wasn’t seeing much of an improvement in my skin. My impatience almost persuaded me to quit and try something else.

Instead, I reached out to one of their skincare professionals and asked them when I should expect to see significant results. Turns out, I wasn’t committing long enough. They told me it could take up to 6 months to see the results I was looking for.

The conversation motivated me to give it another shot. I stuck around, committed to the recommended routine, and low and behold: I’ve been seeing better results!

A lot of people underestimate how much commitment is required to achieve their goals, this can be said for anything from losing weight, to gaining fortune and fame to eliminating debt.

The internet age has us addicted to instant gratification and everyone wants to see results right away but, the reality is, you may not see any results at all for months. Maybe even years, depending on what your goal is. I know my impatience tends to be MY downfall.

It’s important not to be deterred just because you don’t get what you’re after right away.

Before you admit defeat, ask yourself:

  • Are you being consistent?
  • Have you created a routine and stuck to it?

If the answer’s yes and you feel like you’ve hit a wall or a plateaued:

  • Are you working around it?
  • Are you coming up with new, inventive strategies?

Use your motivations to keep your eye on the prize and continue building on your discipline until you get to where you’re going. Sure, it’s easier said than done but stunting your process will result in prolonged success.

What’s the difference?

When it comes to accomplishing a goal, think of motivation as the why and discipline as the how.

What separates motivation from discipline is action.

Motivation is what brought you to this post. Discipline is what will put these words into practice.

Although motivation will give you the wind beneath your wings, it is the discipline that will propel you forward.

Another difference is motivation doesn’t have to be consistent, it can be sporadic and can strike at any moment like lightning in a bottle but discipline will require commitment and consistency.

After all, the entire basis of discipline is rule and order.

Motivation is the energy you need to achieve your goal but discipline is the strategy that you’ll need to take to get there.

Can You Have One Without The Other?

It is possible to be motivated without being disciplined.

Who else is guilty of just sitting on a load of passion with no direction or plan to execute it?

You can also be disciplined without being motivated by just living your life according to rules and structure but lacking the drive or passion behind it.

Having one without the other is counterproductive to success.

If you want to achieve a goal, you’ll need to find a balance of both.

Which Of These Do I Need More Of To Achieve My Goals?

Although having both is best, in my research I’ve found that you’ll get nowhere without motivation.

I spoke with Mrs. Ivelisse Villalona, MSW a social worker in the NYC D.O.E who had this to say about the significance of motivation

“Professionally, when I work with kids, for example, it’s difficult to work on changing their behaviors if it’s not something they are motivated to do. So I can talk to them about making better decisions but if it’s not something that’s internal, like if the motivation is not there to make those good decisions, what I’m saying is it’s not going to work.” She continued “You can be disciplined but not necessarily reach your goal unless you have the motivation to do so. So unless the motivation is there, no one can-I feel in my professional opinion and personal, no one can influence your desire, your will to do something.”

Ivelisse Villalona, MSW

Even if you have the structure and plan you need, if you’re not motivated to stay on track there will be no movement.

The Bottom Line

If you’re having trouble reaching your goals, I recommend doing some self-reflection.

Therapist Jenny (Jinhee) Lee, LCAT, ATR-BC agrees! She recommends “finding a greater purpose to the goal and meditating on the purpose daily for reminder of what the work in one’s motivation is for. Having a greater purpose outside of the self can help motivate oneself to get through the process.”

After months of seeking, I got my answer: what I was missing was discipline.

Now, I’m fine-tuning my routine every day and I’m happy to say I’ve been finding success! But, I won’t stop here. I’ll keep using my passions and aspirations to feed my commitment and build on my routine until I reach my finish line. Cue Keni Burker’s ‘Risin’ To The Top’.

*Don’t forget to like, share, and leave a comment ^_^

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