I’m an introvert. This usually surprises most people that I meet, but that’s because most people don’t really understand introverts well. There’s an assumption that introverts are shy, quiet and timid, but anyone who knows me knows that those descriptions are in no way how anyone would describe me. I can usually hold a pretty meaningful conversation on most topics, I enjoy interacting with small groups of people I know well, and my guess is that most of my friends wish I was a little less willing to share my opinions. This gives a pretty good description of the way I am (and I encourage you to read it to get a better understanding of any introvert that happens to be part of your life).
What does all of this have to do with the upcoming minimum wage challenge? I’ve started to realize that to have the best chance to succeed in this challenge, I’m going to be forced to move outside my typical comfort zone and the one area where I will be challenged most is me being an introvert.
I don’t think challenging my comfort zone is a bad thing. In fact, in many ways it’s a very good thing. But even intellectually knowing that it’s a good thing, it doesn’t make it any less uncomfortable or produce any less anxiety. I think I have just started to reach that point where when thinking about the challenge as a whole, I am asking myself, “what the hell did I get myself into and why did I ever think this was going to be a good idea?”
The truth is that to make significant change, I will have to move out of my comfort zone. While this certainly applies to finances, I think it also applies to all areas of life. I think that a big part of the success or failure of this challenge will depend on my ability to challenge my comfort zone.
The easy thing would be to simply say, “Yes, I will step out of my comfort zone to help myself succeed,” but the truth is that it’s rarely that easy. I know myself well enough that if I don’t have a plan in place to truly seek opportunities to go past my comfort zone, I will simply find reasons to justify why not stepping out there is perfectly acceptable. To this extent, I need to set up a plan so that instead of dismissing those things that are outside my comfort zone, I can look at the opportunity objectively to see if it will be beneficial. With this in mind, I have set up the following five point plan:
Ask: “Will It Be Beneficial?”
The first step is to take the emotion out of the decision making process and look at it strictly from the point of view as to whether an activity will be beneficial toward the challenge. While I know a lot of people who have a huge problem removing emotion from financial decisions, I’m luckily not one of those people. I should be able to look at each situation objectively to determine whether or not there is an opportunity for it to help the challenge succeed without taking into account any anxiety or discomfort that situation may cause me personally if I do pursue it.
Hold Myself Accountable
Once I have determined if something will be beneficial, I will need to actually act on it. It sounds easy, but I know that I am pretty good at getting out of things that seek to take me beyond my normal comfort. In order to keep myself accountable, I will need to let others know what I am planning to do. This challenge is a perfect example. By putting it out there for everyone to read, I know that I have a much better chance of success than if I had simply made the bet and didn’t let others know about it. I know that the readers will help me stay accountable by sharing the goal and the plans I have. In that sense, when situations arise that would be beneficial for the challenge which push my comfort zone, I am going to need to announce them in this blog and to other close friends to keep myself accountable and on track to success.
Take Baby Steps
I have a tendency to jump in full force at 100 miles an hour (kind of like this challenge) which often ends up me being the rabbit in the tortoise and the hare fable. I need to remember to be the tortoise during the challenge. That means not taking on every single activity which falls out my comfort zone, but picking and choosing the ones that are likely to give me the greatest benefit to help with the success. While moving beyond my normal comfort zone will be essential for me to ultimately succeed in this challenge, trying to do too much in too short a period of time will guarantee failure. I need to keep reminding myself that with finances (as with most things in life), slow and steady baby steps can take you much farther than trying multiple big changes that never hold.
I think that if I can break the challenge into a lot of smaller baby steps and tackle each of them, I have a good chance of doing well. The key will be making sure I don’t accidentally overwhelm myself when it comes to those steps that fall outside my comfort zone.
Mistakes Will Happen
I need to remind myself that when I do venture into those areas that are outside my comfort zone, the results aren’t always going to be what I hope or expect. Rarely do things work out exactly as planned, and that it certainly even more true when it comes to activities with which I’m not familiar. The fact is that the chances are even more likely that things won’t go according to plan when I try new things because there will inevitably be a learning curve. Those mistakes, while frustrating and discouraging, are important learning lessons that can help a lot in the long run as I take away valuable information from them. I just need to remember that what seems to be a failure is not a failure unless I fail to learn something from it.
Adapt And Learn
Once I have committed to going outside my comfort zone, I want to take the time to look at whatever lessons I learn and adapt them to help me do even better in the future. It’s important for me to remember that even those mistakes will hold lessons that can help me improves and that the activities that succeed can likely be improved upon. As with most things in life, it’s a never-ending process of trying to improve that much more. If I am able to adapt from whatever I learn, I should have a good chance of succeeding.
What things do you do to move outside your comfort zone? Even with the uneasy stomach wondering exactly what I have bitten off to chew this coming year, I think if nothing else, it should be an interesting ride…
Next article: Housesitting in Arizona