Learn more about Shannon’s book, Breaking Free: Stop Holding Back, Start Being You

Have you ever wanted to try something new or different but held back? Perhaps you felt scared or nervous? Or are you worried you might look stupid in front of other people? Or even that you might create some conflict by sharing your opinion? There are lots of reasons we don’t do things outside of our comfort zone.

But what if we did do more outside of our comfort zone? What might open up for us? What new experiences might we have? Is there something that comes to mind right now that you would do if fear, self-doubt or worries didn’t come into play? Or, is there a time where you did conquer your fears – can you remember what it felt like afterwards?

In my case, I have two things that get my palms sweaty, my stomach doing somersaults and my heart racing, but that once they’re over, I’m on an incredible high. Those two activities are physical activities and public speaking. Yup, two pretty opposite things, I know.

With physical activities, my anxieties boil down to two things – I don’t want to get injured, and I don’t want to let my team down if it’s a team sport. For public speaking, I don’t want to look stupid or waste people’s time if what I’m saying bores them or doesn’t deliver on the ask.

But that natural high that comes after I’ve done them is oh so worth it. And even if it doesn’t go as planned, can we not learn something from it that will make us better next time? If I’m not doing something that excites or scares me, I tend to experience boredom which leads to excessive TV watching, drinking and eating.

So, at the start of this year, I set a goal to do more things that scare me. I made these goals partly because I found myself caring too much about what others think and also that I’ve learned that those natural highs are what fulfills me and thus lead to healthier habits.

Interesting isn’t it how something we find scary can be the same thing that genuinely fills our cup and leaves us wanting more?

It’s just a matter of overcoming those obstacles that come between us and that fulfillment.

So, on New Year’s Day, I wrote down what I wanted to leave in 2020 (I should have written COVID in retrospect). Things like self-doubt and caring so much about what others think – I took those pieces of paper and burned them in a bonfire. It felt fantastic! And vulnerable. Vulnerable because I shared these things with my family and on social media.

But I wanted to hold myself accountable and how we do that is by sharing our goals with others. Plus, I wanted to set an example for my boys that we should try things even if they’re scary. They’ll tell you one of my favourite sayings is to try one thing every day that scares you. (especially when standing in line at Canada’s Wonderland).

Here are a few examples of things I tried this past year outside of my comfort zone in case they spark any ideas for you:

  • Presenting for a big client pitch

  • Sharing my struggles with anxiety on LinkedIn

  • Quitting my corporate job and an excellent and stable income to pursue my dream of being an entrepreneur and having the flexibility to spend more time with my kids

  • Trail biking for the first time

  • Going on “The Bat” at Canada’s Wonderland (and screaming so loud my youngest and son heard me a few rides away)

  • Posting videos on social media

  • Trying a new water slide at a waterpark

  • Attending a 3-day retreat in Northern Ontario to reconnect with my inner child without knowing a single person, not even the leaders

  • Water skiing for the first time since I was a kid and finally getting up after 6 attempts, even if it was just for a second

  • Pitching my business and articles to individuals and companies every single day

Have I loved every second of it? Nope. But have I learned from my experience? You bet.

Here are some of my learnings to date:

  • I have had a ton of fun – whether it be with my family on adventures or from meeting new people and trying new things, it’s been a blast!

  • The process isn’t always fun – it can mean letting people down or seeing people’s true colours, but the end goal is usually worth it

  • Rejection is hard but short-lived – take what you can learn from it and move on

  • The more you do it, the more comfortable it becomes, although it doesn’t mean you’ll grow to love it, and that’s OK

  • The pain is worth the gain – the sweaty palms, thinking I’m going to be sick, feeling short of breath sucks, no doubt, but the natural high that comes after or with a win is worth every second of it.

What’s one thing you want to commit to trying in the next 30 days? I’d love to hear it.

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