It’s human nature to seek comfort in familiar habits and patterns. When anything comes along to threaten the status quo, we naturally feel uncomfortable, even anxious. Most of us will take great pains to cling to our comfort zone just to avoid those feelings, rejecting change and its unpredictability. The inevitable result for many people is to languish in predictable mediocrity. While they may feel safe, they eventually slip into obsolescence.
In the financial advisory business, if you are not constantly working at getting better, you are getting worse. That’s because successful advisors always strive to improve, to find ways to perfect their craft, which often requires breaking from familiar habits and stepping outside their comfort zone. They know that if they continue to live inside their complacency zone and do what they’ve always done, they’ll continue to get the same results. As a financial advisor, that is ultimately a formula for failure.
You’ve done it before, and you can do it again
Think back to times in your life when you had to break out of your comfort zone to advance yourself to the next level. How about leaving the comfort of your home to go away to college? Of course, it probably helped to know your friends were doing the same thing, but it still required stepping outside your comfort zone.
How about taking the first steps to a career as a financial advisor? Not many people would attempt it because of what it requires. Yet you did it, and it got you to the next level. The problem for many people is that the next level eventually becomes a plateau.
There’s always the next level to aspire to, and to get there invariably requires making some changes, taking some risks, and stepping outside your comfort zone. The challenge is, the higher the level, the scarier it is to step beyond your comfort level. The laws of human nature are formidable, but they’re not finite. You can and must overcome the inertia of the status quo if you are to join the ranks of elite advisors.
Here’s an actionable plan to get you started.
1. Clearly define your ambition.
Do you know what you want to accomplish as a financial advisor? Can you visualize success? Do you have clearly defined and quantifiable goals? As the grinning Cheshire cat told Alice, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” How can you achieve your ambition if you don’t know what it is?
2. Learn from the Elites who’ve done it.
Take top advisors to lunch and probe them on the things they did and the obstacles they overcame to break through. Ask them specifically about how they stepped out of their comfort zones to master new things and form new habits. Follow their suggestions for any books, blogs, or courses they used to rewire their brains. Better yet, cultivate a mentoring relationship with a top advisor for continuing support in your efforts.
3. Focus on your passion.
When people are able to focus on what they really enjoy doing, what they’re really passionate about, they will do whatever it takes to continue to do it. Do you have a micro-niche in which you want to concentrate? Do you have a unique talent you want to cultivate? Follow a plan and challenge yourself to build your practice as a way to pursue your passion, and you will eventually feel uncomfortable living inside your comfort zone.
4. Expand your comfort zone with baby steps.
It’s okay to take small steps when changing your habits. It can actually be better than trying to accomplish it in a giant leap because it can reinforce the positive experience while allowing for opportunities to correct any mistakes. While your progress may be slower, you are gradually expanding your comfort zone. With each step, you train your subconscious to accept the change as part of your new nature, with the comfort that goes along with that.
The Bottom Line
In any career, if you cling to your comfort zone, it will hold you back; you can never grow. Deliberately stepping outside of your comfort zone is not a natural act for most people. However, with a clear vision of your ambition and a plan to achieve it, you can continuously challenge your preconceived notions and expand your comfort zone to reach new heights.
Whatever your path is and wherever your comfort zone places you, be sure to master the basics as they are what usually makes us successful.