I have always HATED the expression “you need to get out of your comfort zone.” If you have had challenges, such as shyness or fear of public speaking, you probably have spent your life getting out of your comfort zone. The problem is that if you don’t change your thinking about how scary something is, then it will continue to produce fear no matter how many times you get out of your comfort zone. And you will likely stay uncomfortable.
I prefer the phrase change your comfort zone. What is your fear? Maybe you are terrified of job interviews. What specifically is it that scares you? Maybe I will say the wrong thing, or I will look foolish, or they might think I am not qualified. If you do not change these thoughts they will persist, even when you have gotten out of your comfort zone to do the interview.
So, how do you CHANGE your comfort zone? You definitively should prepare for whatever it is you are going to face, but as you prepare, you also need to tell yourself positive messages. In the example of a job interview above, you could remind yourself of the great talents and abilities you have to offer. You need to continue to reinforce these same positive messages to your brain during and after the event. After the job interview – or whatever your challenge is – think about how you did, both the negatives AND the positives. Even if you did not get the job or successfully complete your challenge, remind yourself of what you did well and what you have to offer.
You will be better the next time. We can always improve. Changing our thoughts takes time and work, but it can be done. Next time you have a fear to face brought on by your introversion, don’t just get out of your comfort zone… change your comfort zone!