Wouldn't it be fantastic if the road to success and happiness were an easy one? Unfortunately, as we all know, this isn't the case. The reality is, you'll only succeed once you force yourself to do things that you don't necessarily want to. It's true. You see, our brains are wired in such a way that we often don't take action until we feel some sort of uneasiness or uncertainty.
Multiple studies have backed this claim up, showing that performance spikes when we're doing something out of our norm. The act of stepping outside our comfort zone is not only vital to our success, but also our well being and ability to grow as individuals too.
With a little understanding and a few minor adjustments, you can break free and achieve more than you ever dreamt possible. So step out of your bubble and embrace the following ten challenges:
Ask for what you want
"Everything you want is out there waiting for you to ask. Everything you want also wants you. But you have to take action to get it."
— Jules Renard
Too often, people don't achieve the success they want simply because they are not willing to ask for it. Sure, this definitely requires some courage because we do face the possibility of being rejected, but the ever looming 'what if' will be much harder to live with than any turndown will. Ask yourself what's the worst that could happen. If it's a simple denial it should never hold you back.
Get up early
Unless you're just naturally a morning person, setting the alarm clock for earlier than usual is a sure shot way to take you out of your comfort zone (and cause some early morning cursing).
However, carving out some extra time for the beginning of your days can be well worth it. Everybody from Bill Gates to Mark Zuckerberg swear by their rigorous morning habits as a key to their success. And academic research shows that those who adopt morning routines have a greater "ability to take action to change a situation to one's advantage."
This will give you an opportunity to mentally prepare for what's ahead, exercise, get a nutritious breakfast in (instead of eating something on the go like so many of us do) or simply take a few minutes for something you enjoy.
Recent research showed that the more challenging it is for a person to say no, the more likely they are to experience stress. We all know that 'no' can be a powerful word, but it's one that you should not be afraid to use and use often.
Saying no to new requests or invitations helps to honor your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to adequately fulfill them. When you learn to say no when necessary, you'll free up your time and energy for the things that matter most in your life.
When many of us are given a compliment, our knee jerk reaction is to immediately jump to how we didn't measure up or what we could have done better. These reactions, however, can have a negative effect on our self-confidence, our future career and even our relationships.
If you work hard on something, why dismiss any positive feedback that deservingly comes your way? When you learn to accept compliments you'll gain the chance to see yourself as your peers do, and odds are you're confidence will soar.
Give and take critical feedback
"We all need people who will give us feedback. That's how we improve."
— Bill Gates
Feedback develops humility and self-awareness and challenges perfectionism. Neither giving nor receiving critical feedback is ever easy, but remember that nothing worthwhile really ever is. However, if you learn to be open to feedback, you'll see progress in your skill development and overall personal growth too.
Uncomfortable doesn't even begin to describe what making a mistake feels like. However, mistakes can almost always be turned around. The most effective way to replace that sinking feeling is to properly assess the situation and take action.
To become an effective leader we must take on the responsibility of understanding our successes and our failures. Learning to admit mistakes will help you to earn respect, lead by example and build a culture of trust with your peers and colleagues.
Network and make small talk
Studies show that an overwhelming majority of jobs are found through networking, and small talk is where it all begins. You never really know where it can lead, it makes you more knowledgeable (yes, even if it's on a subject matter you have no interest in), it opens your eyes and, finally, you really have no choice. It is a critical element to any profession. To really master small talk, learn to become fascinated by it and the person wielding it. With enough practice you'll eventually learn to enjoy it.
Start practicing public speaking
"There are only two types of speakers in the world. 1. The nervous and 2. Liars."
— Mark Twain
We all know how common the fear of public speaking is. In fact, a whopping 74 percent of Americans have glossophobia (the fancy word for it). So if this includes you, know that you're nowhere close to being alone.
Whether you're speaking in front of five people or five thousand, becoming a better public speaker can be a huge advantage to your career. Don't just take my word for it: Warren Buffett says it will boost your career success by 50 percent.
While it might appear daunting to learn public speaking, so did learning to ride a bike at first. Thankfully, there are some fairly simple ways to start becoming a master at it. Although you won't become a TED Talk star overnight, becoming great at this is a lot easier than it appears.
We all know that when the going gets tough, it can often be easy to just put off tasks until tomorrow. The problem is that 'tomorrow' often turns into the next day and then the next… before it eventually never comes. While we all procrastinate from time to time, successful individuals do something that most of us don't- they stop making excuses and push past it.
The best way to beat procrastination is to of course never let it begin. Write out the things you're "going to do tomorrow", create a schedule for these tasks, keep yourself accountable and imagine how great you'll feel once they're accomplished.
"If you aren't in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?"
— T.S. Eliot
As we start to invest in ourselves and grow, we become more aware of the people and things that were previously holding us back. This may be in the form of a bad relationship, perfectionism, insecurities, late nights or a social media addiction. When we let go of what no longer serves us, we make room for more productivity, positivity and success.
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Elle Kaplan is the Founder and CEO of LexION Capital, a fiduciary wealth management firm in New York City serving high-net-worth individuals. She is also the Chief Investment Officer and Portfolio Manager at LexION Alpha, her systematic hedge fund that will soon be open to new investments. It is one of the only women-owned and run hedge funds in the nation.
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