I’m the first to admit that I thought my comfort zone was very good to me for much of my life. But truth be told, I didn’t have much of a life! Ironic, eh? It was when I decided to step—no, jump out of my comfort zone that the most extraordinary things began to happen. I met the man of my dreams, got married, left an unsatisfying job and started my own business. I have been living happily and fulfilled in my life for a little over two years now and I wouldn’t go back! Oh sure my comfort zone shows up every now and again, more than I would like, but it’s all good because it shows me that it’s time to stretch myself to the next level.
Does the following description sound like you? You live your life in fear: fear of looking like a fool, fear of appearing stupid, fear of what other people might say, or fear of not knowing what or how to do something. That’s how my life looked. I never set foot outside my comfort zone and therefore missed so many wonderful experiences and opportunities.
It is now my quest to help others break free of their comfort zone so that they can have their best life ever. My clients take great strides forward. Sure, sure, initially they are hesitant but they called me in to help them…and help them I do, and for the most part painlessly too. Look, change isn’t easy but it is very much worth it. You can either stay in your comfort zone or stretch out of it for the most unbelievably satisfying life!
Here is a step-by-step exercise to move you out of your comfort zone. Grab a piece of paper and write down the answers to these questions (I even provided some examples to help get you started). Oh, not to worry, these can be baby steps. If you want to run, you first need to feel good about walking. These will do that!
- What is one thing that you really want to try but are afraid? I want to try a new exercise class.
- What makes you scared and/or nervous about it? I’m scared that I won’t know what to do and will feel stupid.
- Why do you feel this way? I feel nervous because I’ve tried other exercise classes before and I didn’t know what to do and felt awkward. I don’t like to be the new person. I don’t want to be the one who doesn’t know everything.
- Why do you want to do this one thing; what are the results you are looking for? I know I need to find an exercise I enjoy doing, and will look forward to, so that I can manage my weight.
- How will you feel once you do this one thing? Elated, excited, proud and energized.
- What are things you can do (no matter how small) to help you step outside your comfort zone so that you can experience those feelings? Find exercise classes in my area that I am interested in. Go and meet the instructors. Ask if I can observe a class or try it as a guest.
- What timeline are you willing to assign to each of those steps in order to reach your goal? I will research exercise classes tomorrow, meet two instructors over the weekend, and observe or try out one class by this time next week.
- How do you feel now, knowing you have a plan? I feel relieved and encouraged because now it doesn’t seem so scary.
- Who will you share this information with that will hold you accountable to your schedule? One of my best friends who loves to exercise but lives too far away for us to be exercise-buddies would be excited for me to do this. Or my husband because he can help me with chores and errands to allow me the time to make this happen.
- What’s stopping you now? Nothing!
Being afraid to try something new certainly shows up in many areas of our lives, not just exercise. I used this example of an exercise class because I am a fitness instructor and coach, and I come across this scenario all the time. Let me say that good instructors welcome “newbies” to the class. And if they know you’re new, they’ll usually give extra instruction so that you can follow along. There’s no reason to be intimidated!
Staying in our comfort zone does not do us any good mentally or physically. We need to stretch our mind and body in order to stay alert, active and healthy. As you may have figured out, a lot of what keeps us in our comfort zone is in our heads.
This week, take one action step toward reaching one of your goals that you have been afraid to try or to go after. When you do, remember how you felt before you took the step that started you moving out of your comfort zone…then how you felt after — and notice the difference!