Do you have a bucket list goal or aspiration that frightens you—like bungee jumping or traveling alone to a foreign place? We put off these dreams, not because of lack of funds or laziness but because deep down, we don't want to stray too far from our comfort zone.
Of course, when we do finally break that barrier and push ourselves to do something we normally wouldn't, it can often have great results. Some of the biggest steps I've made in my career and life have come from stepping outside my comfort zone. It gives you a huge confidence boost to finally achieve a goal that's scared you.
So, how do you actually take that first step to beating your fears? Here are a few common fears/ambitions I or people in my life have faced and the tricks we used to ease ourselves out of our comfort zones and finally go for the gold.
1. Doing standup comedy
Being onstage in front of a roomful of people and trying to make them laugh—I can't imagine anything more terrifying! My friend Terri Trespicio loves it! She got tired of everyone telling her how funny she was offstage and decided take her skills to the next level. (And she's really good!) Many comedy clubs offer stand-up classes in which you can practice your routine a bit before getting up onstage with other newcomers. It's reassuring to share your pre-stage jitters with others before taking the plunge.
2. Taking up a new sport that scares you
My good friend Mary Lengle didn't play a single sport until she reached her 40s. She always felt she was missing out and wasn't any good at sports. At 45, she took up golf and loves it so much that she's decided to devote her life to perfecting her game. In fact, she's set a goal to break a score of 85 by the time she turns 50. Just as Mary never knew she'd love golf this much, maybe there's a sport out there for you. You won't know until you get out there and try.
3. Being on TV
You've probably seen experts not all that different from yourself on TV and thought, Why is she there and not me? Getting on TV is not as difficult as people think. But, wow, does it boost your brand and business unlike anything else. In my day job as a news producer, I've booked thousands of guests and get piles of pitches per day. So, how do you pitch yourself to a producer? My friend Terri (yep, the same one who does stand-up) and I have created a video course called "Lights Camera Expert" to teach experts, authors, and entrepreneurs how to crack the media code, craft the perfect pitch, and crush it on air.
4. Going on an adventure
As someone who lives in a big city, I often daydream about being more outdoorsy although I'm not really a hiker! But if you have an adventurous spirit, why not trade in the treadmill for a waterfall? REI adventures organizes trips all over the world with a variety of different activities including rafting/hiking/climbing and safaris!
5. Spending a year abroad
Remember those travel abroad programs in college? This is basically the same but for adults. So, you know all those times when you said, "I wish I could travel the world"? Now you really can. The catch is that you need to have a job that allows you to work remotely. Then, apply at RemoteYear.com, and if you're accepted you will travel to 12 cities over 12 months with 75 people you don't know. Talk about stepping out of your comfort zone! Doing it in a somewhat structured way with a group of companions makes it slightly less terrifying, which makes RemoteYear a great option for travel newbies.
6. Traveling alone
I love Italy. It's one of my favorite places to go on vacation. I went there this summer with my husband, Jay. Maybe you can't spend a year abroad, but you're still eager to travel to Europe. If you're a little afraid of traveling solo and would love to visit the birthplace of il dolce far niente, I recommend trying Italian Fix. It operates in small groups, making your trip less like a tour and more like hanging out with your girlfriends. It even organizes everything for you, so you can concentrate on the important things (like what cocktails you're going to get).