Scared to Make a Change? 3 Reasons Why You Should Push Yourself to Do That New Thing
Seeking out opportunities to step outside your comfort zone and start something new is the best way to ensure you're learning and growing.
Think back on the times in your life when you've grown -- either personally or professionally -- the most. Often, the catalyst for that growth had to do with starting over. Whether it's by your own design or due to circumstances beyond your control, being new pushes you outside of your comfort zone, heightens your awareness, and almost guarantees personal development.
This has been 100% true for me. I never really had an interest in yoga, but I reluctantly tried it when I got sick with a thyroid condition after my second son was born. I wasn't allowed to do most forms of exercise, and yoga was my only option. Learning was uncomfortable at times, but by diving in, pushing through the challenges, and absorbing new skills, I slowly transformed from a person who thought yoga was not for "Type A" personalities to someone who realized that moving a bit slower and more deliberately takes its own skill and discipline.
Over the years, I have taken the lessons I've learned in yoga and applied them to different areas of my life, including in my businesses. My push into yoga is one of the clearest examples of how being new at something accelerated my learning and growth. I've had a similar experience each time I started a business. With a new company, you need to put in the time and do what it takes to get the business running smoothly. No task is too small -- whether it means taking out the trash or sending out mailers to local businesses to advertise your services -- a good business owner will get their hands dirty, which often requires jumping into unfamiliar territory and figuring it out as you go.
So you should seek out opportunities to be the new kid. Here's why:
1. Change will make you realize how awesome you are
In an article, explaining why he's moved every time he gets too comfortable, the author and speaker Grant Cardone explains, "Comfort is the enemy of the obsessed. To be dangerous, force yourself out of your comfort zone, literally -- try a new city." Of his experiences living in Chicago, San Diego, LA, and Miami among other places, Grant explains: "All of these moves proved to be monster personal growth builders for me. They gave me confidence that I can be nimble, succeed anywhere, make friends anywhere, and create my own happiness independent of location."
You also don't have to make massive changes, like moving or starting a new job, to get the benefit of being new. Starting a new hobby or taking a class can do the trick. It just depends where you're at in life and how much you need to shake things up. There's a season for all of it.
2. Being new has psychological benefits
We often fear stepping into the unfamiliar, and it rarely turns out to be as bad as we expect, according to Dr. Alex Lickerman. In fact, we often don't anticipate the good things we gain by stepping away from our routine. One of the benefits is courage. "Trying something new often requires courage. And needing to summon courage is itself a benefit. Once it's released it will, like its second cousin once removed, anger, indiscriminately engulf everything in its path," Dr. Lickerman writes in a piece in Psychology Today about the importance of having new experiences.
Scientific evidence doesn't really support beginner's luck, but studies suggest the belief in beginner's luck can influence us. "Beginner's luck is more than just luck - it's the idea that there's actually some sort of tangible advantage to being a rookie, that you won because you were a beginner," according to an articlethat dives into this topic. The theory is that this works because the beginner is "less bound by rules and is therefore able to outwit the more experienced player. Or the low vs. high pressure theory, in which the beginner expects nothing and therefore is not shackled by the pressure that the more experienced player feels," according to the article.
3. Starting over can feel like you're taking a step back. You should do it anyway
Sometimes starting something new requires starting at the "bottom." Maybe this means learning alongside people who are a lot younger than you are. Maybe it means taking a role with a title that sounds more junior than your last one. Whatever it is, don't let the perception that you're taking a step back stop you from stepping into the unfamiliar on the journey get where you want to go. And most importantly, when the learning is tough, don't quit, stick with it.
Blogger/writer Jeff Goins also points out that you never lose the benefit of all the steps you've already taken. "When you start something new, you're not really beginning completely fresh. Your past experiences, failures, and successes have all taught you something," he writes. "More than you realize. And knowing what you know now means you aren't starting over. You're just beginning again."
Even though being the new kid is scary and comes with challenges, there is probably no better way to accelerate your own development. As the author Peter McWilliams said, "Comfort zones are most often expanded through discomfort."
This post was originally published on Inc.com on May 24, 2017.