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Why is it that we as humans are so prone to follow the path of least resistance? When I consider the most rewarding experiences in my life there seems to be a common thread of having stepped outside of my comfort zone. I dare say this is the same for all of us. Yet we still find it difficult to get ourselves to the point where we are willing to take the risk of doing something outside of our norm.

Let’s take a minute to evaluate the risk/return (reward) spectrum. We know from a financial investment perspective the more risk we are willing to take the more chance we have of yielding a high return. Some of us are willing to chance a big loss and some of us are not.  Applying this same principle to staying within our comfort zone, we recognize that doing so leaves us with small returns.

In order to achieve greater satisfaction within ourselves and our achievements, we need to be willing to take greater risks. What does that mean? Obviously it will be different for each us. In the same way that each of us has a different financial risk tolerance, each of us has a comfort zone risk tolerance which means you will have to assess this for yourself.

As you look to a new year, I encourage you to evaluate your current comfort zones and how you can push yourself beyond your current level of tolerance. I think as you do, you will find it to be quite rewarding.

Here are a few ideas on how you can step outside of your comfort zone:

  • Ask to learn a new task at work, or take on more responsibility
  • Have a conversation with someone you don’t know very well
  • Share something personal (but not too personal) with a colleague
  • Confront a fear
  • Invite someone over for dinner
  • Cook a new recipe
  • Take a class

Good luck and many happy “returns”!

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