Outside Your Comfort Zone

(I'm staring you down and asking you to get uncomfortable)

Another in my life-coaching inspirational series to ignite my readers to live to their potential. The last post was “Screw the Box” about living outside the box. Today, it's about living outside your comfort zone.

I know the only thing stopping me is my own mind

I was way too long in a bad marriage and terrified of the unknown. I had never lived on my own my entire life, didn't even know how to begin. My ex had total control of everything, so that I had never so much as paid for a bill before. How was I going to make it on my own? And living alone? How the hell was I going to live all by myself? It sounded so lonely!

A dear friend pointed out that I was already going to bed hours after he did, waking up with him already at work, working on my own from my home office, eating supper before he came home, watching him go off into the home office and ignore me all evening long and on weekends playing in a band and running around town doing chores and avoiding me all together. In other words, I was an expert at living alone. And, it is exceedingly more uncomfortable being alone with someone there.

So far as the managing bills and the mechanics of living on one's own, I had a high IQ, wasn't lazy, learned things easily, took my responsibilities seriously. I was actually going to ace that easily.

It meant leaving my comfort zone for sure, but my comfort zone wasn't all that comfortable. I hated it and every day I grieved the life I was stuck having to live out and almost wishing I didn't have a long lifespan if this was the way the rest of it would be. He controlled the finances, the vacations, where we lived, how we lived, how the house was kept, how the meals were made, and even how my body should look. It wasn't my life, it was HIS life.

Recently watching an episode of “Biggest Loser,” I smiled when Jilian the trainer pushed people to run faster on their treadmills and told them, “yes, you can go faster!” They didn't think they could, but she taught them otherwise.

Think of all the other things you think can't do? You have to push past that uncomfortable moment to find your true worth and earn your own respect. You never respect yourself when you ride under the radar and do what's comfortable and routine and don't ask more.

Discomfort means you are alive. Every loss of a loved one I experienced, every new task I had to take on, every growth period in my life was awkward, hard, painful, agonizing, full of insecurity and anguish and resulted in the most growth! I'm not proud of myself for the easy and happy things I experienced, I am proud of myself for what I survived and thrived in spite of.

Magic never happens in the comfort zone, I assure you! Growth does not happen there. Reaching one's life dreams doesn't happen there. Self-assurance and confidence do not blossom from that wellspring.

You know those electric invisible fences for dogs so that if they pass by the limits of the yard, they get zapped? Imagine your comfort zone as having that parameter. Now, think of someone you admire greatly. Does that person live within their yard's invisible boundaries? The only thing shocking about leaving the comfort zone is that you didn't do it sooner.

“What would you do if you were guaranteed you wouldn't fail?”

I love that saying. It is hung up on the corkboard of inspiration I keep in my living room to look at daily. That should be the way you treat every day of your life. What's the worst that could happen if you don't succeed? You're back where you are now, comfortable and predictable.

The comfort zone is a very small part of your world. Your world has no limits when you step outside of that comfort zone. It's all possibilities. When I used to look at my life and say “I will always be stuck in this godawful desert,” I had just limited my world to my ex's comfort zone. Now, I can say, “where do you want to live?” People in the comfort zone often lament the things they didn't do, didn't achieve, failed at. Every day is a slow grieving process for what could have been.

Every day, force yourself out of your comfort zone in any way that makes you uncomfortable because with that discomfort and having achieved this deed, you just gained confidence that your limits are broader than you thought, the lines are blurred, there are no boundaries. Importantly, you learn that you truly can handle anything that comes your way so some day when something awful confronts you, you'll know that you've handled other things, you can handle this.

Some ways to test your comfort zone?

Take the route to work that means lots of left hand turns or the freeway if that makes you more uncomfortable.

Go to lunch at a new place you have never gone before and go alone.

Go inside a Quick Mart and ask directions to someplace, even if you know the route.

Be the first to raise your hand and offer an answer to a question or a contribution at a meeting.

Strike up a conversation with a stranger in a waiting room.

Finish some project you intended to do but kept putting off, if it's losing weight, fixing your vintage car or sewing a quilt.


  1. Brilliant post. I'm with you, I always try to push myself creatively and in many other aspects of life. For instance, I joined a cardio class at my school to get in shape. Up until now, I've hated gym classes. But I've decided to get into shape, and exercise more often. Oh, and I love the quote. My personal fave is "Imagination is more important than knowledge" by Albert Einstein.

  2. HN;
    I adore that one! I also live by these ones:
    "You can't smooth out the surf, but you can learn to ride the waves" and
    "The way you do anything is the way you do everything."
    If a person has a lust for life, they just do it! They get knocked down, bad things happen, but they just get back up and plunge into a new avenue. People ask me a lot why someone with the kinds of things I've gone through in my life can still be a big excited kid, but how can I not be. You can't recreate the same day twice if you try. Every morning you wake up, you get a new adventure. You never quite know where it'll take you. I'm with you on the health thing too. I'm an organic-eat from the earth eco-weenie type and my ex was meat and potatoes. Now that I'm on my own, I'm starting my new life on a plant-based diet and it helps me to be the ball of energy that I am. Good for you, buddy! I want to hear you like it. I was an extreme athlete and I have to admit that there are just certain kinds of sports that suit your body type and even your DNA type and when you find them--do them to excess!

  3. Right on, Sharon!

    (Listen to her, folks - she knows what she's talking about!)

    There's no bigger hurdle for one to overcome that your self-doubt.

    (P.S. - Jillian rocks!)

  4. I do adore Jilian! She says it like it is whether you want to hear it or not and makes you face reality and in that moment you get a big freaking "aha!" I wish she had her own show, honestly. I'd like to see her descend into people's homes again and change them over. Thanks for the support, Eric. I do tend to say it like it is. I hate to see people get in their own ways. I started to write my memoirs one time and I entitled it "watching a train wreck" because I spent my whole life watching people I love get in their own ways and totally f-up their lives and sometimes lose their lives and it pisses me off. I had a friend one time with marriage troubles so she started smoking and drinking. I said "if you dealt with the marriage problems, it would have sucked facing it, but now it's going to suck so much more because you started secondary issues of smoking and drinking and those are even harder to face."

  5. you are a brilliant mind, with thoughts of success and always willing to help the hands that need it. even if it is you at times, you have had sound for me and i am in your debt. i feel the walls to my comfort zones is widening, but still has it's limitation. i am just afraid. i have been doing things for a year or more and have failed at everything i have tried. now i am looking it as a learning experience over the fact that i have failed. at some point things will turn around, i will find my place and my walls will crash down. i want to do more in my life, i want to be successful and sound. i want to help that person get off the ground even if that person is me.

    thank you for your "outside" perception, we all need to fly.


  6. Hey Jeremy;
    I'm totally with you. I am jumping full force into any and everything I can and getting a body of experience. It's not really about success. That comes with time and effort. It's really about experiences. One time, I went in search of an abandoned place to film with my son and we couldn't find a damn place anywhere. We drove and drove and drove. What we did find, however, as a lot of time in the car to talk and catch up and we also found where in the area there are not abandoned places. I drove down roads I hadn't known were there before and saw sights I'd never seen. There was no failure, there was practice and discovery.

  7. Well said and inspiring. Thanks for being the great blogger that you are. No matter how brave I think I am being....you just find something (like this post) that reminds you can do more.



  8. I am one of those that had a hard time getting out of that comfort zone. I worked at a job I really didn't like for 30 years because it paid well. When I got laid off (almost three years now), it was a mixed blessing. The layoff gave me a chance to look for something else I would like better but at the same time, we were now living on just my hubby's salary. For the next two years, I looked for jobs on the Internet and didn't do much of anything else. I always said that if I had more time, I would do something I like and hopefully make money at it. I had the time, but did nothing. It took a dear friend (my sis) to pull me up and get me to do things I just dreamt of. She got me out of my comfort zone. I was always worried, "what if they don't like me or my art?" I stopped dwelling on the negative and just did it. There are times when I want to get back into the comfort zone, but with my family, friends, and web buddies to support me, I am able to be strong and do those things I love.

  9. Frog Queen;
    You are such a dear. I hope you found some inspiration, some laughs, and some puzzling mysteries when you come here, everyday life and paranormal life are both very exciting--if we let them be.

    You are a dear heart. It was all there. You just needed to stop concerning yourself with what people think of what you do and concern yourself with what you think you do. My writing strikes a note with people because I write it for me and I'm pleased with it and anything coming from genuine pleasure is a beautiful thing. So, art is not a destination--it is a process that lifts your spirit and if you're lucky the icing on the cake is that it lifts others spirits too. That's usually how you know it came from a genuine place because others identify with it.

  10. You know, I've taken that trip outside of my comfort zone. It was scary. I had doubts. But, I look back now and it was worth it. Yes, I still catch myself every now and then asking "what would have happened if I had not taken that step?" and that's when I start second guessing myself and looking to the past and dwelling on mistakes instead of looking at the present and future that is going to be wonderful (eventually! LOL). That's not what you should do. It takes time but remind yourself to NEVER look back. You can't do anything about it anyway!

  11. Little Sis;
    I have no regrets. Even when I have lost loved ones before their time, I still say to myself "what's to guarantee they would have lived a long life or a happy one? They might have become incapacitated and depressed later in life, maybe they did what they came here to do and it's time to book out." I never ever play "what if," because that's make believe. I know from dealing with people with anxiety disorders, it's the "what if's" that kill them. They imagine a scenario that never even happened and their body reacts as if it did. It knows nothing more than you tell it. So, you get all worked up about an imagined bunch of events and they didn't even come. There is only "what is" and not "what if." If you have a good attitude, whatever "is" can be intriguing, life changing, interesting, challenging and rewarding. Hell, one day when laid up with my leg propped up after having my Achilles reattached, I got so frustrated with my inability to do anything, I got bored and started a stupid blog called "Ghost Hunting Theories" and my entire world changed. Life's subtle that way. You blow life into it and it sails.

  12. Oh and Jeremy...I am right there with you...I have failed at every new career I have tried. Not because I was not awesome at it, but because of the people I worked for. Do I still blame myself? YES. But maybe I "failed" because it is not what I am supposed to be doing at this time in my life or even IN THIS LIFE. It's a hard pill to swallow at times especially when I really enjoyed the work (Embalmer), but there was obviously a reason. I still have trouble "doing". I talk about "doing" but have motivation problems which I think stem from depression issues. However with the help of my Big Sisters (Autumnforest and Asdila) I am going to start working on my weight loss goal (we are being accountable with each other!) and the exercise will also, I think, help me feel better and WANT to START DOING! LOL Ok, I'm rambling....Tee Hee!!!

  13. I'm looking forward to my comfort
    zone at the end of the month.

  14. PC;
    Seeking the comfort zone, eh? Well, as long as you spend some time outside of it, then you appreciate it all the more, huh?

  15. One way I pushed my boundaries is trying to learn two new things. Greek, via rosetta stone (I'm half greek, and want to learn my language) and a FUSHIGI ball.

    If I can master greek, I'm going there in the next 5 years. If I master the fushigi ball, I'm dressing up as Jareth from Labyrinth for halloween (tights and all) and showing off my mad skillz...

    Awesome, imporational post.

  16. L.I.I;
    You crack me up, buddy and I seriously want to see pictures of you in that. Greek? You lucky bastard! I always wanted to be Greek. I love the food, the place, the culture, the people. Something to be very proud of. Learning the language--you can never use that phrase again "it looks Greek to me." Now, you'll have to say "It looks Russian to me."

  17. Sounds like adventures into the testosterone driven worlds of mountain climbing, autoracing where one can soar,speed and let yourself see all magnificent vistas...

  18. That was awesome and so true. Breakthroughs cant occur without becoming uncomfortable.

  19. Israel;
    When I recovered rapidly from panic disorder in my 20s, the main motivation was it felt like shit and I didn't want to feel that way one minute longer. We really learn best from near misses, rock bottoms, tragic moments and other negative types of experiences. It also explains why a lot of people who had horrible past relationships are hesitant to jump back in again. There's a fine line between knowing a bad experience is over and fearing it will happen again. People who fear it will happen again didn't learn a thing from the experience. Had they put a perspective on it, the thought of it happening again would simply make them think, "well, I have the proper tools this time and I obviously survived it before."

  20. How don't know how to live in comfort zone!

    Great post!


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