Need A Boost Of Confidence? First, Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone


A positive mindset will help you with life's challenging moments.

Why enter a road race? If I say, "Because it's fun," I can hear the groans already. Another reason I do it is because it's out of my comfort zone. I've been running a long time and running on my own is easy.

But entering a race, sitting in my hotel room alone the night before, checking my gear for the upteenth time, wondering just how much colder the wind will make it feel, anxiously trying to sleep and then waking up early with nervous anticipation, sometimes I really wonder why I do it.

I've decided it's all about getting out of my comfort zone and becoming stronger—not just physically stronger, but mentally stronger. I'm able to gain a boost of self-esteem and see growth in confidence of my abilities.

So, here's how it works:

The Positive Mindset

As Olympic runner Jeff Galloway said, "The more you frame the marathon as a stressful experience, the more negative messages you will receive." Sitting in my hotel room sometimes I have a negative mindset, worrying about the potential problems and pitfalls of the next day's race.

To shake that, I remind myself of how I'll feel walking toward the starting line with fellow-runners, talking about last year's race, those we've run recently and upcoming events, and my positive mindset kicks in. Later I'm grateful for the opportunity to meet people I wouldn't otherwise encounter and learn about them in this special way. You can change a negative mindset about anything by working hard to notice the positives.

The Challenge

Galloway also said of the marathon, "it's just as easy to frame it as a positively challenging journey." I can view trying to keep up my pace as anxiety provoking and stressful, but why go there? I can also frame my race more positively as exciting and challenging. I don't often get to push myself physically. My work is sedentary. I ran for many years without entering a race. So road races are a new kind of challenge.

Getting out of my comfort zone, facing and succeeding at these new goals helps me feel confident in my ability to meet future challenges in life's journey and achieve positive results.

The Goal

To get out of your comfort zone you must choose a goal. It can be physical, social, work-related or spiritual. Quitting smoking, a dietary or writing goal, each has a set of unique challenges.

The underlying principles are the same: a goal is something to strive for against all odds and face discomfort to achieve. Learn to play the violin, throw a pot, speak French, do a headstand or give a public speech. You'll see how pushing yourself to the next level in one thing encourages you to do the same in the rest of your life, so you can face the next bump in the road.


Angela Duckworth, on why she studies perseverance, said, "Because life is hard. Because there are just obstacles every day to everything that we want to do. If it were easy, it would be done already." So clocking those miles and keeping on, even when I occasionally think that quitting could be really nice, helps me realize I'm tough as nails and I can do anything, or at least anything within reason. It shows me I can give other challenges my best shot.

All week I wondered whether or not it was going to rain yesterday, another race day. Dr. Elissa Epel studies stress and said: "One thing to remember about chronic stress is that it's only our thoughts that make it seem so." The rain could have put a damper on things, but instead of stressing out about it, I planned ways to conquer it.

These challenges help me feel sure I'll be ready for the next series of unfortunate events that are, no doubt, coming my way. People wished wish me luck, but it's not luck, it's a positive mindset and perseverance that carried me those 18.6 miles. What's your next challenge?

Judith Tutin, Phd, ACC, is a licensed psychologist and certified life coach. Connect with her at where you can request a free coaching call to bring more passion, fun and happiness to your life.


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