Want To Build Your Business? Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

The other week, I wrote a post about how choosing the more difficult path can lead to both personal and career growth. After all, if you’re not challenged by the work you’re doing — if you’re not learning — how can you possibly move forward?

Oftentimes, that difficult path involves merely putting on pants, or ignoring the evil siren song of your DVR queue. But sometimes, the more difficult path involves doing something you’re bat-shit petrified of.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said that you should “do one thing every day that scares you.” As a self-hating wuss, this appeals to me.

And as I read Noelle Hancock’s memoir, My Year with Eleanor (in which she tries to do one scary thing a day, for a year), I can’t help but think that in order to go bigger and better in 2012, I need to be challenging my wuss-tastic self even more.

I mean… my most satisfying accomplishments of the past year were also completely terrifying. Doing a reading during Lit Crawl NYC. Joining a yoga studio. Going on a yoga retreat all by my lonesome. Co-hosting a large-scale speed networking event. How can I push myself even further in 2012? How can you?

I’ve already agreed to be a panelist at the ASJA conference this coming spring (Writing About Sex, Saturday, April 28, 10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m., Roosevelt Hotel, NYC). Instead of reading a previously-published essay word-for-word off of a piece of paper (which was terrifying in itself, even though I was drunk), I have to prepare a 10-minute presentation, which I will then deliver to a room full of established writers. While sober.

All of my fellow panelists are published authors. I am only a co-author. Of an ebook. And I hate public speaking. I’m going to die. (Of shame, and of blunt force trauma to the head when I pass out and fall.)

But if I don’t die, I may gain some welcome visibility from both editors and potential coaching clients. And the appearance will also strengthen the sex writing platform I’m building up as I query lit agents with my book proposal.

What other scary things could I try in 2012?

  • raising my rates
  • becoming a yoga teacher trainee
  • getting my shit together and throwing some new Word Nerd Networking events
  • querying outside of my niche
  • auditioning for a secular choir or a cappella singing group
  • attending more industry events (sans Xanax)
What’s one scary thing you’d like to try in the coming year in order to build your freelance business?

Related: How Choosing the More Difficult Path Leads to Awesomeness (and a Cuter Butt), How to Build Your Network Without Having a Panic Attack, The 5 Most Common Problems Freelance Writers Face, Why It Took Me Four Years to Become a Freelance Hard-Ass


  1. I’ve been thinking these thoughts lately, too. I couldn’t fall asleep last night because I was running through SO many different ideas, all having to do with growing my business and potentially even branching off into a totally new arena. Ok, maybe the venti espresso from Starbucks that I sucked down at 5pm kept me awake, too. But really, my mind has been spinning lately with ways I can push myself and grow. And I love the idea of coming up with ways to step outside my comfort zone in 2012. I’ll definitely be doing that! Thanks Steph 🙂

    • Oh my god. I’ve switched to decaf in the afternoon, but I still end up tossing and turning all night long. And yes, usually masterminding business-y things. Hopefully, these nighttime brain-blizzards will amount to something awesome for both of us in 2012.

  2. I definitely you commend on your quest to do several scary things a year. I absolutely hate being scared. I’m still somewhat in the middle of my fear… I recently quit my job to do writing full-time. (I had been doing it part-time for a while) It’s still a little scary not having the cushy paycheck every two weeks to depend on. But then I think about it and realize that the scariest thing I can do is hang onto a full-time job for a false sense of security.

    I’m also in the process of writing a sex related article. (Definitely way out of my comfort zone but I’m enjoying the process.

    • Good for you for pushing your boundaries! Making that leap to full-time freelance is definitely scary as all hell. In the past, I’ve found myself clinging tightly to low-paying permalance gigs just for the security of that regular paycheck. And good luck on the sex writing! 😉

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