THE BLOG
08/08/2013 12:18 pm ET Updated Oct 08, 2013

Want to Be Productive in Business? Start Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

I love this quote from Jerry Bruckner -- "What you do in life and 99.9% of what happens to you in life is a direct result of what you feel, think, say, and do. To improve your life you must feel, think, say or do something different than you are now."

This is particularly true in business as well. In today's fast paced business environment, business owners need to find ways to innovate. We cannot be leaders of our organizations by living in the "safe zone." We need to be bold and take risks to reach the next level and achieve optimal growth.

Being Comfortable Is a Productivity Killer

There is nothing wrong with seeking to have a comfortable life. The problem starts when we become too complacent and stop challenging ourselves to reach for a higher goal. Being too comfortable is a productivity killer. As Ran Zilca of Psychology Today has said:

"We live in a society where comfort has become a value and a life goal. But comfort reduces our motivation for introducing important transformations in our lives. Sadly, being comfortable often prohibits us from chasing our dreams..."

When you live in a comfort zone, frequently fear sets in and becomes major obstacle in accomplishing your goals. Who is not afraid of failure? We are just human after all. One thing I've learned from being in business is you need to be willing to take risks and not worry so much about what other people think. It's important to always push yourself to go above and beyond your limits. By doing so, you will discover new information about yourself and things you never thought you were capable of doing. It is never easy leaving your comfort zone, but here are simple ways to help you break out.

Divide Your Goals Into Smaller and More Manageable Steps

As the leader of your organization, you are tasked with making decisions that directly affect your business. Thinking big can be a challenge especially when you're constantly making excuses for not taking action such as not having enough knowledge or money to move forward.

Action Steps:

  • When you feel fear setting in, break the goals or tasks into smaller and more manageable steps
  • Create fun and exciting ways to learn and achieve your goals.
  • If it's a true challenge, find a coach to mentor you. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Stop Wishing and Just Do It

If you want to achieve increased productivity in your business, you must be willing to take tangible actions every day. Stop wishing and start doing. I often hear people say, "I wish I called my client earlier when we came up against this roadblock in our project." Usually when you delay or avoid taking action, you are giving into your fear of the worst case scenario instead of the benefit that will result by taking action now.

Action Steps:

  • Write down a list of activities that fall outside your comfort zone which you have avoided.
  • Take action on your list of activities until you have accomplished all of them.
  • Even if you fail initially, don't let that stop you. Learn from your failure and move on quickly.

Don't Rest on Your Laurels

When you reach a significant milestone in your business, it's good for you to celebrate those milestones. There is nothing wrong with celebrating your success, just don't rest on your laurels. Think of your success as a journey, not the final destination. Maintaining this mindset will encourage you to keep moving forward.

Action Steps:

  • Seek continuous improvement. Push yourself and your team to consistently improve and find better ways to do things.
  • Never settle for good enough. There is always room to improve.

Challenge Your Thinking

Let's face it, we make decisions and execute plans based on our past successes and failures. In order to grow further, you'll need to challenge past thinking. The key is to open yourself to new learning and knowledge. If you stop learning, you will never know what else you and your team is capable of achieving.

Action Steps:

  • Put new success metrics in place. Instead of having your usual revenue goal of $10,000 per month, push to earn $15,000 instead. If you're an app developer and your goal is to generate 100,000 downloads per month, then shoot for 120,000 the next month.
  • Find creative ways to solve problems. Conduct a focus group or a meeting with people in the organization who are actually involved in the day to day operations. The key is to find ways to solve a problem differently and involve people who actually work in the operation you want to improve.

Rest and Recharge

Business owners rarely take time off to properly rest and recharge. This is a huge challenge for entrepreneurs, especially in a 24/7 connected world. As a leader in your organization, we tend to feel the need to be constantly on the go. Instead of increasing productivity, this go-go mentality usually has the opposite effect. You must challenge yourself to take regular breaks to recharge.

Action Steps:

  • When dealing with a problem at work that you cannot solve right away, take a walk. Get away from your office and do your thinking elsewhere.
  • Take time to talk with trusted friends and colleagues. They may be able to offer valuable advice or just help you unwind.
  • Take a vacation. When you are constantly tired, you will not be in the position to make good decisions

Conclusion

Stepping out of your comfort zone is easier said than done, but it can be done. The first step is you have to want to do it. Face your fears and take small steps, but never confuse leaving your comfort zone with being reckless and stupid. Take calculated risks. Make educated decisions. When was the last time you stretched your personal and business boundaries? What new skills did you learn? What benefits did you reap? Please share your story with in the comments below.