by Monique Ong
We all have heard the famous quote, “life begins at the end of your comfort zone”, but have you ever actually taken the leap to step out of yours? Trust me, I know it can be scary and uncomfortable, but that’s exactly where the real growth lies. I, for one, have had my fair share of stepping out of my comfort zone and let me tell you, it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
In June 2017, while on a business trip in Singapore, I sustained a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), spending 21 days in a coma and had to undergo three brain surgeries. When I woke up, I did not know how to eat, sit, or walk. Doctors told me that because of my injury, my brain was now only operating at 40% capacity. I was also diagnosed with aphasia, a disorder arising from a severe TBI that causes the patient to have trouble speaking, reading, writing, and understanding language. And finally, because of the swelling in my brain, I became blind in one eye.
“Changes don’t have to be big, and they do not have to happen overnight. By simply being creative, you can make small tweaks to your routine while you are on lockdown and already challenge yourself.”
After six months of my therapy, my doctors told me that my improvement will be minuscule from 10% to .0001%... I need to get used to it when I still struggled to read or write, But I refused to let doctors determine my fate; in my quest to return to my normal life, I challenged myself and those tasked to treat me. I demanded daily speech therapy, even if my therapists only suggested that I see them thrice a week. I also asked for homework and spent every day answering grammar worksheets, writing in a journal, and practising giving presentations. I even started a light boxing exercise regimen with my physical therapist. On top of all these, I resumed planning for my wedding, which would be held 11,000KM away in southern France.
When I was tested by my neurologist 14 months after my accident, I scored 95. I was ready to go back to work again.
In 2019, I co-founded MindNation, an innovative mental health and well-being company that has grown globally as a trusted partner for organisations and communities alike. I am proof that if we step out of our comfort zone, take risks, and face challenges head-on, we can evolve our lives, relationships, and even careers into something better and helps others do the same.
Here are 5 ways that I used to step out of my comfort zone and achieve real growth personally and professionally.
Embrace change: Change can be scary, but it’s also necessary for growth. Instead of resisting it, embrace it. Look at change as an opportunity to learn, grow and challenge yourself. I used to hate change and would do anything to avoid it, but then I had a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that completely changed my life. I had to learn to walk, talk and live all over again. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it taught me to embrace change and see it as an opportunity to grow.
Say yes to new opportunities: Don’t be afraid to try new things. When a new opportunity comes your way, say yes! It could be something as simple as trying new food, or it could be something as big as moving to a new city. Whatever it is, don’t let fear hold you back. I used to be a homebody and never tried new things, but after my TBI, I made a conscious effort to say yes to new opportunities and it has opened up a world of new experiences for me.
Surround yourself with positive people: Surround yourself with people who support and encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. Find a group of friends who are always up for trying new things and push you to be your best self. I used to surround myself with negative people who brought me down, but after my TBI, I made a conscious effort to surround myself with positive people and it has made a huge difference in my life.
Take calculated risks: Don’t be afraid to take risks. Calculate the risks, weigh the pros and cons and then make a decision. Taking calculated risks has helped me to grow and has led to some of the most rewarding experiences of my life. For example, after my TBI, I took a calculated risk and started a blog to share my story and it has become one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done.
Get out of your head: Stop overthinking and just do it. Don’t let fear and self-doubt hold you back. Get out of your head and into action. I used to be an over thinker and would talk myself out of trying new things, but after my TBI, I learned to just do it and it has been a game-changer for me.
By stepping outside of your comfort zone, you can achieve real growth and unlock your true potential.
About Monique Ong
Monique is Chairman at MindNation and runs workshops where she shares her personal story and offers tips and tools to help you become the best version of yourself. Contact her at email@example.com for more information.