Have you ever had that uneasy feeling the moment you consider doing something new? That mix of nerves and fear that seems to sound the alarm when you peek outside your comfort zone? You know the opportunity or idea is a good one. There are a bunch of reasons to back it up. But for some reason that nagging uncertainty just won’t go away. You just don’t know how to deal with doubt.
I’ve been there many times myself, and I’m still learning how to work through my doubts when leaving my comfort zone. This is especially the case as I find my footing as a new entrepreneur.
Today I wanted to share a recent example of how I did just that.
As I’ve shared in the past, I left my corporate job in January to pursue growing my Etsy shop and my blog full-time. I now work from home (alone!) and spend most of my time working on things my friends and family don’t fully understand. Yes, they get what my shop and blog are about, but they aren’t very familiar with the day-to-day activities (which is completely understandable!). This makes what I do somewhat isolating both physically and mentally.
In order to connect with other bloggers, I’ve joined a few blogger Facebook groups. One day, I saw a post about starting up a Mastermind group. In case you’re not familiar, a Mastermind a peer advisory board. It acts as a formalized group designed to help participants navigate through challenges by using the collective intelligence of the group.
I immediately asked for more information, excited about the possibility of making real blogging friends, connecting with others, and learning from the experience.
Once the Mastermind leader sent me the information and I read it over, I started feeling a bit antsy. My worry and anxiety starting to kick in as I realized I was considering doing something outside my comfort zone. I started worrying, with questions like:
What if the other women in the group are rude, judgmental, or unsupportive?
What if the group doesn’t connect and get along?
There are 11 sessions and we’re only allowed to miss up to two due to emergencies. What if I have to miss three? Will I be asked to leave the group? Will it have been pointless for me to have joined?
An hour per call seems reasonable, but what if I have nothing to contribute?
What if I’m not able to meet the goals I share with the group?
Thankfully, because this year has been all about leaving my comfort zone, I was able to identify these doubts and work through them by asking myself some key questions.
What are my objectives? How does this meet them?
First, I identified my objectives for joining the group and assessed whether they could be met.
Ultimately, I was looking for a few things: a positive community of bloggers, a space for support and feedback, the ability to help and coach others, and accountability to keep me on track with my own goals.
Masterminds are specifically designed to enable those exact things. And from the group’s guidelines and mission, it became clear that it was aligned with my expectations.
Next, I dove into my concerns.
What are my concerns? What data supports them?
First, I realized that many were around the quality of the other participants and our fit with one another. Moving away from my concerns and into facts I could specifically identify, I noted:
- The group lead appeared to be taking the group very seriously. It didn’t seem like she would tolerate people being rude and judgmental towards one another;
- I was completely aligned to the key guidelines;
- The worst case scenario would be that there wasn’t a fit between the participants. If this happened, we could work through it together as a group. Or I could talk to the group lead and politely exit the group.
Second, I was concerned about the time commitment and the rigour around participation. Initially, 11 weeks sounded like a long time and I felt nervous about committing. Because I now knew I could bow out early if needed, I realized the same thing could apply to the group. If the time commitment was too much, or if I knew I was going to have to miss too many sessions, I could speak with the team lead and discuss alternatives.
Last, I felt some anxiety around the goals piece. After reflecting on this, I realized I was actually feeling anxious about my ability to succeed in a group of this nature. To diffuse these concerns, I considered all the times I’ve thrived in group situations. I reflected on all the times I set goals with others and how I was almost always able to pull through.
If, in this Mastermind group, something were to come up or I wasn’t able to achieve one of my committed-to goals for the week, I would share that with the team, and if it was something within my control, seek out feedback on overcoming it.
Let’s say, for example, I had shared my goal with the team to write 5 blog posts the next week. If I couldn’t get them all done because I struggled with writer’s block, I could share that with the team and get their feedback on working through it.
By thinking this through, I realized that setting goals and having an accountability group will be fantastic motivation and if stumbling blocks arise, I can work through those with that very team.
I did this whole exercise in my mind, but writing it out is another great strategy.
In closing, there are two more things to consider.
First, you may go through this exercise and find that the concerns are valid. If so and if you can’t work through the doubt, maybe what you’re considering isn’t the right step to take. Let’s say, for example, you’re considering going on vacation but feeling anxious and worried because you’re short on cash. If going on the trip is either a) not aligned to your objectives (of saving money, for example); or b) posing doubts you can’t quash, you may decide it’s better not to go.
Second, intuition plays a role too, and a systematic approach like this doesn’t leave a lot of room for it. Consider what your intuition is telling you as one more piece of data. Be careful, because sometimes something “not feeling right” may just be your worry or the newness of an opportunity spooking you.
Worry and concern will rear their ugly heads when they detect you’re considering leaving your comfort zone, and they do that to protect you. This exercise gives you back your power so that you can make decisions that work for you, and avoid missing out on great opportunities.