Alan Donegan: Rebel Business School Co-Founder, Rebel Entrepreneur podcast host, Rebel Finance School co-founder and Queen's award winner. Marvel movie fan fanatic, breakfast lover and financial independent traveller
Back to Blog
Even now at 44 there is SO much that I know I don't know about, let alone the stuff I don't know I don't know!
How do you know what exists, how do you know what is possible for you and how do you get comfortable having a go?
The purpose of this blog post is to help you see ways of doing things you never even knew existed and inspire you to have a go. Let's start with...….
The Awareness Zone
Back when I was starting my business around 2008, my friend Ashley set me up with a meeting with one of his mentors at the Institute of Directors (IOD) in London. I was building a training business and this guy did training and coaching for large organisations.
I put on my suit, ironed my shirt and headed off to London on the train. I made my way over to Pall Mall and into the IOD. I felt excited going into this grand old building and to be surrounded by other company directors. I met with Matt and we chatted for an hour or so. He blew my mind that he was earning more than £400,000 a year and taking the entire of August off every year! An entire month off every year and normal holiday as well!
I had never heard of anything like it at the time. Someone taking an entire month off and not working! It blew my mind. I was not even aware that this existed let alone thinking it was possible for me to do to it. Before the meeting it wasn't in my awareness zone, let alone my zone of possibility.
That meeting expanded my zone of awareness to include taking month long holidays and earning more money that I dreamt of! I didn't yet believe it was possible to take a month off every year and more holiday but at least I was aware of the concept!
Fast forward 14 years and I live in a different world where it is not only possibly but normal to take extended trips and breaks. In fact I never have to work again if I don't want to!
Everyone has different awareness zones of what can be achieved or not. When you are young you don't even know that certain things are possible. You just aren't aware.
Have you ever played one of those strategy games where you start on a small area of a map and everything around you is black?
You grow up in the town or village that you are born in and that is what you know. You don't know anything outside of that, or are even aware that this is a bigger world out there. You are just existing in your world.
At some point you become aware that there is a bigger world out there and you start to explore the surrounding areas and towns and your zone of awareness expands.
I think the next stage occurs when you realise that there is a giant world out there that you know nothing about. It is all still in the black and you realise that your town is not the centre of the universe and there is so much more out there.
You realise that your world is surrounded by these big areas that you have no idea about at all.
There is so much I don't know or understand yet, but I am at least aware some of it exists. The funny thing that has happened for me is that the more I learn, the more I have realise I don't know!
Most people aren't even aware of the options available to them
I truly believe that most people aren't even aware of the options they have available to them out in the world. They have no idea of what is out there in the undiscovered map of life. Here are some examples from my life and other people I knew:
There are so many things that weren't even on my world map when I was younger. I had no idea that they even existed. You don't know what you don't know.
I had no idea what was outside my zone of awareness and all the amazing things there were out their in the world. I was in my own small world and I was blissfully unaware.
How do you expand your awareness?
You don't know what you don't know! So how do you expand what you know about? There are so many ways to do it. Some of the most impactful for me have been books, courses, podcasts, groups and blogs. I have laid them out on a very scientific zone of awareness map that I drew below:
I started in my little zone of awareness in the corner of the map and as I read, met people and travelled my zone of awareness expanded and expanded.
The main tools I used for expanding my awareness zone where:
The more I travel, learn, read and meet people the more I am inspired by the incredible and endless possibilities in the world. It is truly amazing what you can do or experience. But if you haven't gotten out there you wouldn't even know some of these things existed!
You will be the same person tomorrow as you are today except for the books you read, people you meet and courses you go on. Start learning and growing and seeing what is possible.
Zone of possibility
Then comes the second step. Even if you are aware of something as an option you might not think of it as possible for you! The option is in your zone of awareness but not your zone of possibility so you never even give it a go.
In the opening example Matt opened my eyes to the possibility of taking a month off in the summer every year. I was aware of it but I didn't believe it was possible for me at that stage.
You need to be aware of the options and then think it is possible for you to achieve it. I know a lot of people that are aware of the ideas of starting a business or a podcast but think it is not possible for them or that they have missed the boat. I know lots of people that are aware of the concept of financial independence but believe it is not possible for them to achieve it because they have kids or a low paying job.
If you think it isn't possible for you then you are never going to try to make it happen. Our subconscious protects us from the pain of failing by making sure we don't even start or try.
Being aware is one thing but knowing that you could achieve it is something completely different. Time for another one of Alan's highly scientific sketches......
You might be aware of financial independence, starting businesses or becoming nomadic but believe it is not possible for you.
Sometimes you even try something once but it goes wrong so then you put it back outside your zone of possibility. I knew you could invest in the stock market because my dad showed me that he did it. He even helped me by getting his broker to come round and advise us both. On his recommendation I invested my life savings in a high-tech, high growth, managed fund right before the dot com bubble!
If you don't know what happened in the dotcom bubble; well stocks crashed and a lot of people lost money and because I was invested in an active fund it never recovered! I lost my life savings.
This made me scared of investing in stocks and shares and sent the idea of investing out of my zone of possibility. It moved back out into the zone of awareness or maybe even the zone of wariness! lol.
How do you expand your possibility zone?
Confidence and self belief is at the core of expanding your zone of possibility. When I am feeling confident, I feel as though anything is possible. I feel that I could have a go at anything and see what happens. If I am feeling a little down or uncertain I am not going to go out there and try new things.
This is a huge subject so I am going to come back and write more about this subject another time. Building your self-esteem, self-belief and confidence is the key to expanding your zone of possibility.
In the mean time my best suggestion for expanding your zone of possibility is to find someone who has done what you want to do and go and ask them how they did it. Even better they might have written a blog, book or article about it. Mr Money Mustache has achieved financial independence, read his blog or go to an event where he is speaking and learn from him.
If you want to start a business without debt then come to a Rebel Business School and find the people that have already done it or listen to the Rebel Entrepreneur Podcast and soak up the inspiration.
Go to Toastmasters and meet people who have mastered presenting, join a meetup group on Facebook for nomads and start to ask questions. Find the people that have achieved what you want to achieve and surround yourself with them!
Why don't people do it?
There are so many people that know about things, they are aware of it. They also know it is possible for them to do it and achieve these things but they still don't do it! They still don't take action, they still don't make it happen!
Why is that!??
It is because it is outside their comfort zone. I can hear you saying "Alan, there are already too many zones for my liking!" This is the final zone to talk about I promised. Time for another highly scientific diagram from Alan
People can be aware of the option, think it is possible for them to achieve it but still not do it because it is uncomfortable or scary to do it. Stocks and shares where this for me for many years, I knew about them, I knew it was possible because I had tried it but I was SUPER uncomfortable having a go at it because I lost my life savings last time round.
The comfort zone for most people tends to be the smallest out of the three and the most difficult to break out of.
This is a quote I have learned to live by over the last 10 years...…….
Everything you want in life is outside your comfort zone; otherwise you'd already have it.
If you were comfortable going to get a pay rise, start a business or do your first sales pitch you would just go and do it because it isn't scary for you. People don't do these things because it isn't comfortable and scares them.
Spend a moment right now thinking about the things you want to achieve. Maybe you want to get a promotion, change careers, get a pay rise or start to invest? Make a list of the things you want.
Why are you still reading? Stop and make a list of the things you want in life.
Then ask; "why haven't I taken action to get these things?"
What's stopping you? What needs to happen for you to start to take action?
At some level fear is involved; you might give me logical "reasons" why you haven't done it yet; such as "the stock market is stable at the moment, now is not the time to invest!" You may or may not be right, but what you are really saying is "I am afraid I will lose money if I invest now."
Behind all our inaction, behind our choices and decisions is some level of fear of a negative outcome. If you were 100% certain that asking for a promotion at work would be successful you would just go an do it. If you were 100% certain that if you launched a business you would make money you would do it right now, there would be no stopping you.
But you aren't 100% certain about any of these things. You never can be. This is the challenge. You have to step outside your comfort zone and have a go even though you risk failure or rejection.
Everything you want in life is outside your comfort zone! Otherwise you would already have it!
Here are a few tips to help you build the courage to get outside your comfort zone:
Everything you want in life is outside your comfort zone, otherwise you would already have it.
The purpose of Rebel Business School, The Rebel Entrepreneur Podcast, this blog is to help you create the life of your dreams. My goal is that you take the things you learn with us and use them to create the life you want
People go to jobs they don't like, put up with situations that are abusive for years and then escape from them through alcohol, bubble baths, spa days or gambling.
True self-care is not looking after yourself with chocolates and a bubble bath. TRUE self-care is building a life you don't need to run away from. A life that you wake up excited to live each day.
Take what you read here, learn more and then use those tools to build the life of your dreams
The extraordinary belongs to those that create it.
No one is going to hand you an extraordinary life. That is not how it works in this world. They don't come round school asking "Would you like an extraordinary life?" You have to create it.
First start learning to bring things into your zone of awareness. Then start to find people who have already done those things and learn from them bringing it into your zone of possibility. Finally take action and get out of your comfort zone to go after them.
This article and writing it has inspired me to start asking what is out of my zone of awareness right now? I feel like my life is pretty awesome but I still start to wonder what's the next level? What don't I know about yet? What's next to learn?
What are you going to do next to expand your awareness zone?
Let's make it happen
Sending you happiness
Screenshots via Moby Games