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Summary:

I don’t know about you, but I have always liked a good challenge. Doing something that stretches the bounds of my competency puts me on the edge and freaks me out a bit — just enough to force me to grow and expand my possibilities.

Have you ever noticed that the better you get at something, the more comfortable you become with it? Not that comfort is a bad thing, but it’s all too easy to do the same thing well, over and over, with little challenge.

I don’t know about you, but I have always liked a good challenge. Doing something that stretches the bounds of my competency puts me on the edge and, quite frankly, freaks me out a bit. Not too much, but just enough to force me to grow and expand my possibilities and give a kick in the pants to my productivity.

The other day, while out doing errands, I saw a truck, and on its side was written, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” There was no attribution given to the quote, but I know that Eleanor Roosevelt said it, because I have a coffee cup that used to sit on my desk saying the same thing.

As I stare down the barrel of mid-year, there is still time to achieve the goals I set so optimistically in January. Some of them have already happened, others I realize have stalled a bit as I’ve settled down into the comfort zone of my life. I think doing a few things that scare me is a great way to break out of it.

Taking a step back, I’ve recommitted myself to a few of the most important of those goals that have gotten stuck in no-man’s land, and decided to break out of my comfort zone and get back on track with pursuing them. How do I plan on breaking out of my comfort zone? By saying “yes” and “no.”

Say “yes” to:

  • Something you have always wanted to do, but were afraid to try for fear of failure, rejection or embarrassment.
  • Say yes to a creative challenge, an exciting opportunity or new learning — that is on target with your long-term goals — even if it does not carry a big financial reward for the moment.
  • Say yes to being of service to an individual, an organization or your community. Agree to mentor someone, serve on a local committee, and help out a fellow web worker who’s struggling. Do it all without any expectations of getting something back in return.

Say “no” to:

  • A sure thing that keeps you in your comfort zone, but also prevents you from moving forward with your goals. Often we get stuck in doing things that we can do well, but that have no relationship to our long-term goals.
  • Something you know you produce a positive outcome doing, but have no passion for. FYI, this does not mean leave your job and become a wandering holy man or woman — unless that’s what you are truly called to do. It means make better choices about where you spend your time.
  • Something you don’t really want to do, but are doing anyway out of guilt, fear or shame. More than anything, the things we continue to do out of guilt, fear and shame keep us stuck.

So take a minute and think about where you may be stuck in your comfort zone, how you plan to get out, and what goals you want to recommit to pursuing. There’s still plenty of time to make this year one of your most productive and challenging ever.

One final note: This will be my last Productivity Superstar column. I’ve enjoyed penning these pieces, reading your comments and thinking about this topic for the past year, I’ve also appreciated working with the fine folks at WebWorkerDaily.

However, the time has come for me to move on and step out of my comfort zone by working on my next project — a book about PR and marketing in a wired world.

Hopefully, I’ll drop by this site once in a while and contribute a piece here or there. But in the meantime If you’d like to keep in touch, please feel free to follow me on Twitter.

Thank you for reading my articles this past year; I wish you a happy, safe and productive future.

By Karen Leland

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  1. This same concept is what takes a great athlete and makes them into an Olympian; they are always working to increase their threshold and take it to the next level.

    In downhill ski racing, racers will tell you that in order to win you have to be 100% in control of being 100% out of control and you have to deal with the fear that comes with that.

    Don’t be afraid to drive fast and take chances.

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  2. Thanks for the nice reminders, Karen. I think I’ve been in the ‘comfort zone’ lately and there’s plenty of room for improvement — if I step out of it. I’m taking on this challenge of getting more creative, of thinking out-of-the-box. It’s like an adventure of a lifetime that gives all those adrenaline rush, making your creative genius come to life.

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  3. This is a bit complicated! I didn’t understand!

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  4. Great food for thought and I totally agree with you. I too like to be challenged and step outside my comfort zone and yes…it is scary…but as a consultant I can’t afford to stay on one place even if I know that what I do is good work. In order for it to be excellent work I need to keep on searching and growing and challenging myself with new ideas and ways of doing things. Thanks for the reminder to all of us!

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