Most people are content to fall into a regular routine. Here’s why, as an entrepreneur, you can never be one of them.
When was the last time you felt uncomfortable?
Let me rephrase that—when was the last time you genuinely challenged yourself? When did you step out of your safe, familiar routine and do something that tested your abilities, something you didn’t think you could do? Chances are good that if you are like most people, you are struggling to remember.
But as an entrepreneur, stepping out of your comfort zone is something for which you need to constantly strive. If you do not seek to break the mold and challenge yourself, you will never grow. And if you do not grow, you will never attain greater success in both your business and personal life.
“Seeking comfort, however natural it is, will never enable growth,” writes Entrepreneur contributor Natalie Bounassar. “Think back to your greatest moments of growth. What was the process like? Was it easy? My guess is no. Growth rarely is.”
Here’s the thing about running a startup: it should not be easy. You should enjoy it, sure. You should love your business and your life with a deep, burning passion. But you also should not feel as though you are coasting along without a care in the world. Startups continue to grow and develop when their founders take risks.
Let’s say you have wound up in something of a rut. You have settled into a consistent, comfortable routine, and you are not sure how to break yourself out of it. You have realized that, in spite of all your best efforts, you are stagnating. Your skills are not developing, your mind is not expanding, and you are functionally standing still.
What can you do about it?
1. Start small.
Identify one weakness of yours: a skill you would like to improve, a process you would like to make better, or a habit you’d like to break. Start thinking about one small thing you might do to be better.
For example, if you have trouble finishing your extremely long to do list each day, start by scheduling one high-priority task a day that you always keep to—a daily workout, perhaps. As a bonus, the daily workout will give you more energy to tackle other more challenging tasks.
2. Look for new opportunities.
Personal growth isn’t always something you will have to do on your own. Is there a public speaking class in your city? Are you aware of a networking event or an expert panel you could sit on? These events bring together like-minded people so they can share ideas and connect with each other.
You never know who you might meet. You might meet a potential new employee or a strategic partner for your company. Meeting others in person also gives you the opportunity to really perfect your elevator speech about your startup. It also helps you continually be able to promote yourself, as well as your business.
If you are not a fan of connecting in person or talking in front of a large group, try putting yourself out there more in an online environment. There are a myriad of options, including guest blogging, participating in a Twitter chat, and starting a Facebook group. These channels all get you out there in front of your target audience.
Sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone in an area outside of your business helps you gain confidence so you can eventually take more risks in your own business. For example, you could learn a new language or volunteer for a non-profit.
3. Work in moderation.
You do not always need to be outside your comfort zone, mind you. Even if you are only doing a few things that challenge your abilities, you are on the right track. You should still stick to what you are good at in the meantime.
4. Never stop striving.
Whether you are setting small goals, intermediate goals, or long-term goals, you should never stop looking for ways to improve yourself. Develop a new, positive habit. Learn something new. Foster a new partnership. But always move forward.
When you set goals, make sure that you are working towards measurable objectives and try to set a time frame for completion. As all entrepreneurs know, it is sometimes hard to stay motivated without a boss checking in on you frequently. Be your own boss and hold yourself accountable.
Personal growth is never easy, pleasant, or comfortable. But as an entrepreneur, it is something you should always aim for. Otherwise, your business will eventually stand still just like you.
So in closing, I will ask again: when was the last time you felt uncomfortable? Maybe it is time to start striving for the discomfort we all naturally fear.