Peak-performance trainer Steve Arnold describes himself a few years ago as a “wimp.” Then he discovered that the only way he was going to grow was to get out of his comfort zone. 360 degrees later, Steve now joyfully welcomes and seeks hard challenges. Pushing himself to do difficult things helped him stop stressing and worrying about the process involved in getting out of his comfort zone. In this video, Steve provides practical ways for stretching your comfort zone, from welcoming a small amount of stress to managing your breath. This video is for those who experience stress or worry when facing difficult tasks.

Full Transcript:

“I used to be kind of a wimp. I would shy away from big challenges. I wouldn’t go out there and do things that made me uncomfortable and it was really holding me back from living my best life. Now, I’m totally different. I made a total 360 transformation and not only do I accept challenges that come at me, I go out there and I look for them, and I embrace them because I know how much they’ll help me to grow as a person. And I am so grateful that I’ve figured out how to do this. And that’s what I’m going to talk to you about today.

Stepping outside of your comfort zone is really the only way that you’re ever going to grow and I highly, highly encourage you to do that. Now, when I used to fear these things, it wasn’t really an intellectual failure. It wasn’t like ‘oh, I don’t want to do this because this might happen,’ it was more just a feeling. And I would just shy away from it because I did not like that feeling of stress. So, I’d accept the challenge. I’d decide to maybe go and give a speech somewhere. Then I would feel a whole lot of stress, and some of it was about the process of putting together a speech or presentation because I didn’t know how to do that, and I would just stress it, stress it, stress it, and just wear myself out. And then it would come time for me to do it, and I’d perform okay, and then, after that, I would not want to ever accept anything else that was hard again because I spent all that time worrying and worrying and worrying and stressing about that thing and it was really off-putting to do that all the time. So, the core of my fear of going outside of my comfort zone was related to stress. I didn’t want to feel that stress.

So, the way that I’ve overcome this is, first of all, intellectually understanding that the only way I’ll ever grow is to feel a little bit of stress, which in the fear of the comfort zone, I feel stressed. And, the only way for me to do that is to feel a little bit, at least a little bit stressed. And I’m not talking about or encouraging you to feel chronic stress. That is not good for you. But feeling a little bit of stress, that’s what helps you grow. And once I understood that, then it became a lot more important for me to go out and find challenges and find ways for me to get outside of my comfort zone. It became a much, much higher priority.

And the second thing is, once I started going after these challenges, one, it just got a little bit easier because I started to have confidence, and two, it just started to feel really, really good and I almost embraced it because of the good feelings I would get by overcoming these things.

Now, the strategy with the stress is a little bit different. It’s something that I do want to point out. I have a strategy that enables me to not feel so much stress between the time that I make the decision to commit and then the time that I actually have to do the thing that I’ve committed to doing. And, this is a strategy, and I’ve talked about this before in my videos related to other things, I have an anchor thought that I go to. And for me, it’s ‘go to the breath.’ Now, what that means is, I have a mantra that I say in my head. It’s ‘in, out, in, out’ and it’s the mantra related to the breath. So, I focus on my inhalation and my exhalation, and I just think, ‘in, out, in, out,’ and for me, that’s a very neutral thought, and that helps because there’s not really anxiety that I can feel about that.

So, I’ll have a negative, stressful thought about this thing that I have to do, and then I’ll go to the breath. And then my mind might go back to that thought, and then I’ll go to the breath. And it might go back again, and it will go again, over and over and over again, however many times that it takes, but eventually, I’ll just kind of forget about it and I’ll go on to something else.

The key is I don’t chase that thought. When you chase the thought it gives it power, so the negative thing that you think might happen in that event will feel a lot more powerful and it will start to feel a lot more real and you’ll start to actually think that it’s the truth and that that negative thing might actually happen, whereas a lot of times these negative things that we think will happen are so irrational but then they become more irrational when we give them more power.

Alright, so, those are the main tips I have for you, and I really want you, first of all, to take it as something that’s really, really important, and I really feel like going outside your comfort zone needs to be a high priority in your life because once you start to do that, that’s when things will really start to change for you, and that’s when you’ll really start to grow in life.”