I have been the sort of person who likes to over prepare, practice more, get more training, before doing something outside my comfort zone. Recently I told my mentor, “I’m not ready yet.” And he said: "You don't wait until you are ready. If you wait until you are ready, you will never be ready. You do it and you get ready."
I realized he was right. A comfort zone is really a plateau. We get to the next level by stepping out, taking a risk, taking action, and working the edge between our comfort zone and our fear.
Going to a Toastmaster International meeting in June 1997 was a big step out of my comfort zone. I was going with the express purpose of facing my fear of speaking full on. I know fear. Most of my life has been spent avoiding it in some way. But I have learned that I limit myself immensely by staying in my comfort zone.
More and more, I am practicing working that edge, working in the zone where it is uncomfortable. I am learning the value of working where the fear is.
While I am working the edge of my comfort zone, where the fear is, there are some things that are helpful:
The most prominent help for me is doing Archetypal Dreamwork with the North of Eden organization. The emphasis here is following the lead of fear to uncover lost parts of my essence. http://www.northofeden.com/
I have also realized that some feelings I call fear are just a heightened life force energy or passion. I am passionate about speaking but as time draws near I sometimes experience performance anxiety, especially if I am stepping out of my comfort zone. An analogy: Water under constriction, as when it is pushed through a narrow opening like a pressure nozzle on a hose, feels hard, forceful, prickly and uncomfortable when it comes out, like fear. When water flows freely through the hose it still gets the job done of watering our projects but it is more sensual like passion. We might not recognize it as passion because we contract at what we label fear. I often check in to see if my performance anxiety is really fear or squeezed passion. In either case, fear is not a stop sign when I'm committed to working the edge of my comfort zone.
I find it helpful to balance my erratic energies with such activities as exercise, meditation, Reiki, acupuncture, massage and other types of stress reduction techniques.
When I continue to work the edge of my comfort zone, I find that fear turns into exhilaration. What would you do if you were not afraid? Whatever the answer, do it anyway.