THE BLOG
11/25/2013 12:10 pm ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

3 Ways to Step Outside Your Comfort Zone More Easily

If a fairy godmother could make something in your life appear that's not currently appearing, what would it be?

A better job? A new relationship? Greater peace with yourself?

Well, if you find that fairy godmother, tell her I'd love her to wave her magic wand over me, too, and make my life change instantly.

However, I believe I've found the magic wand. And it's got a whole different kind of sparkle to it.

The good news is that you've got the magic wand, so you get to make things appear in your life. You don't need anyone else to do the magic.

The tougher news: Waving your magic wand can bring on uncomfortable feelings before it brings on the magical feel-good celebrations. (But don't worry. I'll tell you how to use the wand more easily.)

The magic wand became apparent to me four months ago. I was sitting in a circle of business women I trust, seeking their support.

"I want to be a full-time speaker. But I'm not getting any gigs," I told the group.

One of the women was incredibly straight with me: "Susan, you've been sending emails to people you know. That's hiding out. You've got important things to say. But you're not calling up companies or reaching out in person. Honestly, you've got to strut your stuff! How can you realistically expect to change when you're inside your comfort zone? You talk all about personal growth. It's time for you to do something you've been avoiding. Let yourself get uncomfortable. I dare you to create a new presentation that you're passionate about and start sharing it like crazy. Talk to everyone about it. Everyone. Strangers. Do things that push you outside your comfort zone, so you expand your abilities. No more staying small!"

Gulp. Zing! Whew! The idea of calling strangers to ask if I could speak made my stomach queasy. I felt so uneasy. Yet I knew I had to start contacting everyone about my passions, one of which is teaching people to shift conflict situations from "power over" to "power with." If I wanted to generate visible, meaningful changes in my life, I'd have to take bold action and start talking about "The Conflict Shift" workshop. Even if all those calls and discussions made me feel uncomfortable.

That queasy, uneasy sense is actually a signal that you're on-track for positive growth. If life is always easy, you're not challenging yourself enough to grow and get rewards.

To support you in stepping outside your comfort zone, I'll share what I've been discovering as I start calling on organizations and sharing my new workshop.

Get what you want! Use these three ways to wave your magic wand and step outside your comfort zone:

1. Give yourself permission to be shaky
When you're doing something new, that's not the time to be an expert. That's the time to be a novice, a beginner. To approach new, unfamiliar territory is to give yourself explicit permission to be shaky, unsure, awkward, uncomfortable, uneasy. Instead of being judgmental, be curious.

Yep, I mean full-on permission. Take the pressure off! Tell yourself, upfront, "I get to make mistakes. In fact, mistakes are welcome. They're part of the process."

Some of the first calls I made to promote "The Conflict Shift" workshops were, in retrospect, really strained. I didn't know what to say. Or how to say it. I floundered around. I wasn't sure whether to sell or ask questions. I muddled my way through, telling myself, "It's okay to be shaky and unsure. This is part of the learning process."

2. Drop perfectionism
If you're doing something new, please don't judge that endeavor the same way you'd judge any skill you've used frequently. It's just unfair.

One of the biggest enemies of learning a new skill is expecting perfection. At this point in your life, it's time to stop "grading" and evaluating your ability to grow.

I confess: I started to berate myself after my first few calls. I thought, "Oh, I'm not doing this well at all. Maybe I should stop."

Fortunately, I recognized that my perfectionism was a form of resistance to moving forward.

I decided to replace perfectionism with curiosity and playfulness. Before I'd make a call, or as it was happening, I allowed myself to wonder, "What's going to happen next? Oh, I wonder how this works?" And I invited the energy of play into my calls. I decided it was like a game, to see who would be most interested, to learn what kinds of descriptions got training and HR managers interested, and which ones didn't. The game became fascinating.

3. Celebrate every move you make
If I stood back and looked at all the calls I made, I could have seen that only a few of them ended with what my logical mind would call a "success." In other words, only a few corporate folks initially said, "Yes, let's bring you in to speak, Susan." My mind -- or probably my ego -- was obsessed with getting "yes" responses.

Had I always anticipated a "yes," I'd feel pretty depressed. Instead, I decided that I'd find as many ways as possible to celebrate even apparently teeny tiny successes.

I cheered myself on when I'd pick up the phone. I'd pat myself on the back for each conversation I had. I'd do the happy dance when a training or HR manager said, "That's interesting." I essentially reinforced what was working, instead of focusing on what my ego saw as failures. Poor ego doesn't understand that learning takes time.

The magic wand works!

Since adopting these three principles, I've created a virtual "Conflict Shift" event in February, 2014, and two speaking gigs. Woo-hoo!

When you step outside your comfort zone, magic happens.

How will you step outside your comfort zone today?