Don’t you love being comfortable? It could be that moment in the morning when you’re still lying in bed and the air is crisp in your room but the blankets are just right. Or maybe it’s putting on that pair of jeans that are a little too worn looking but are so perfectly broken in. Or that cozy fire crackling in the fireplace when the snow if falling outside and you’re snuggled up on the couch with your crazy kids running around.
Comfortable can be ‘oh so good’ at times.
But there’s another side of comfort too
Have you ever had a couch that’s gotten old. You’ve had it for a long time, and you always love to sit in the same place. The cushion seems to have created a special place just for your bottom. It’s so comfortable because it’s like that spot was made for you.
But what happens when you try to get up out of that spot?
It’s kind of hard. You may feel a little stuck.
That comfortable spot that the cushion has reserved just for your butt can seem to be holding on. It doesn’t want you to stand up. It wants you to just keep sitting.
You may have to grab the arm of the couch or really work to get yourself up and out of that comfortable sunken cushion that you’ve been sitting on.
That’s the downside of comfort that can impact your personal life too
When we create a life that we’re comfortable with, it can feel good. We have routines that we know. There aren’t many surprises. We know exactly what to expect.
It’s comfortable. And sometimes that can be good.
But then there are times when that comfortable life stops you from pursuing things that you really desire to do. That comfort keeps calling your name and stopping you from trying new things or exploring your opportunities.
Sometimes, that comfort can keep you stuck.
I believe, as women, that it’s so important for us to learn how to step out of our comfort zones. Here’s why:
1. It shows you areas where you can improve
If you only do things that you already know you’re good at, you’ll never be challenged to get better. Trying new things provides an opportunity to learn things that you could get better at.
We should always be learning, growing, and developing in different areas throughout life. I don’t care how old you are. If you’re not moving forward then you’re moving backwards.
There is no staying in place.
The world around us is constantly changing and adapting. If you don’t adapt with it, things will become harder for you.
And, no, I don’t mean adapt values or morals or anything like that. I’m talking about continuing to learn new technology, try new things, and expand your knowledge in different areas.
2. You learn that you’re stronger than you thought
When you’re inside your comfort zone, it’s easy to think things like:
- There’s no way I could ever do that.
- I’m not sure how that woman is so brave to try that.
- Maybe I could have tried that 10 years ago, but not now.
But when you take the step and try something new—something outside of your comfort zone—you just may discover that you’re so much stronger than you thought.
You may feel like you’ll drop dead if you have to get up and give a speech in front of a hundred people, but if you do it, I think it’s safe to say that you will survive. And when you do, you’ll see that you’re capable of more than you imagined.
The more you step outside of your comfort zone, the stronger you’ll find that you are.
3. You’ll discover opportunities that you didn’t know existed
When you start to try new things, go new places, or talk to new people, you’ll discover that so many opportunities existed that you never even dreamed of.
Here’s an example. Back in 2010, my husband and I took our kids (we only had 2 back then) to Disney World for the first time. It was the most amazing experience. We started going back every year. After a few years, I started to wonder what it would take to be a Disney Travel Agent.
After a little research, and applying to several travel agencies, I found one that let me work with them. Just like that, I was planning Disney vacations for people. It was amazing, but it didn’t stop there.
The travel agency was connected with a popular Disney fan blog. As a travel agent, I was able to write the occasional blog posts for the website. Then one time while I was in line for a ride at Magic Kingdom, the owner of the website called to ask if I’d be interested in writing regular blog posts.
This experience led me to learning that I could get paid to write blog posts, which was something I loved to do. All of this led to me eventually starting Rising River Marketing, a content marketing business focused on working with helping professionals.
Planning a very expensive vacation back in 2010 felt a little out of my comfort zone. Contacting travel agencies to see if someone would let me work for them, was way out of my comfort zone. But it opened so many doors for me and created numerous opportunities that I might not have had otherwise.
You just never know how one little thing that you do might snowball into some of the best opportunities that you’ve ever had. And all you have to do to is take that first small step to get the process going.
4. You can be an example for others
I think a lot of women struggle with stepping out of their comfort zone. There are a lot of excuses that they come up with. I’ve used them too. And some even sound pretty legitimate:
- I don’t have time while the kids are little.
- I’m not even sure how to get started with that.
- Other people are already doing that, so it would be a waste of my time.
- I’m too busy.
- I don’t have enough money.
- My husband isn’t supportive of that.
- What would other people think if I did that?
- I’m too old.
In a lot of situations, these excuses sound and feel completely legitimate. But I think a lot of women fail to realize that everyone has a big bag of excuses that they could use.
The women that get things done and try new things aren’t the ones that don’t have any obstacles. They’re the ones that don’t let those obstacles become an excuse not to do it.
What if you could be the example for another woman in your community? In your church? In your workplace? What if you could be the example for your daughters? Or your granddaughters?
When you start stepping out of your comfort zone, trying new things, and growing in new ways, other women will notice. And some may be inspired to step out of their comfort zone as well.
5. You only live once
You know it’s true. We’re each only given one life to live. Some women live a life full of adventure. They travel to different countries, try exotic foods, meet new people and challenge their comfort zone on a regular basis.
Other women, stay comfortable. They build a nice life for themselves. They find what they’re good at and then don’t try anything else.
If a good opportunity comes up, but it’s a little intimidating, they make an excuse. If someone invites them to do something they’ve never done before, they justify why they “can’t” do it.
I’m not against creating a life where you have comfort. I’m not at all saying that women need to run around the world seeking adventure.
But I do believe many of you who aren’t challenging yourselves, those of you that have settled into comfortable, have this nagging voice inside of you that says there is more you could be doing.
I know from personal experience because I had that voice inside of me for a long time. Sometimes, when I start to settle in, I hear it again.
We each only get one life. When it’s done, it’s done. There’s nothing that we can do to buy more time when our time is up. But there is so much that we can do with the time we do have.
I went skydiving
My husband and I have talked for years about wanting to go skydiving. I think we both thought it was one of those things that we’d talk about and never do. But when he turned 39 last year, I started thinking about what I could do for his 40th birthday that would be memorable.
He was not looking forward to this milestone birthday, so I thought, “Why not do something unforgettable? Why not cross off a bucket list item?”
So, I surprised him by having two of his brothers come into town and we all went skydiving together.
Talk about leaving your comfort zone.
I was super excited and thought it was going to be amazing. I thought it was going to be such an incredible experience. And I wasn’t even worried… until this moment:
Looking down from 10,000 ft in the air, while the sound of the wind deafens just about anything that was being said, was when I realized I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into.
But before I knew it, my instructor said the words he had prepared me for… “Ready, set…”. We yelled “Go!” together as we toppled out the side of the airplane.
Not only was I not in my comfort zone, I was so far out of it that I didn’t even remember that it existed.
I don’t think that I’m usually much of a panicker, but I panicked! I screamed like I never have in my life. Then, when I ran out of air, I sucked in more (which was easy because it was flowing in my mouth so quickly), and screamed again. And it wasn’t an “I’m-having-so-much-fun-this-is-awesome” scream either. It was more like an “I-think-I’m-going-to-die-and-I-can’t-see-what’s-happening-because-I’m-falling-so-fast!” type of scream.
I felt like I couldn’t control where my arms or legs were going. I struggled to see my altimeter to know when to pull the cord. Thank goodness my instructor was amazing. He knew exactly what to do, when to do it, and he even knew how to handle me and all of my craziness.
It wasn’t what I expected
The entire thing was not the enjoyable experience that I expected. Once the parachute opened I alternated between screams and nervous laughter. My entire body was stiff.
Calm and cool were the last things on my mind.
It wasn’t what I expected. It was a whirlwind. I was scared pretty much the entire time. Something that none of the YouTube videos I had watched before the big day had prepared me for.
But then I landed.
That’s the face of total happiness from being on the ground. It was pure joy and laughter. The experience was over and I had survived.
In the days following, I was disappointed. I felt like I had failed at it. I felt that I should have done so much better. And I was so focused on the fact that it didn’t feel like I expected it to, that I was missing the incredible experience that I did have.
But then, I see this picture. And I’m reminded of that moment when I landed and that feeling of being so proud of myself for actually doing it. It was crazy. It was unexpected. And it was good.
Stepping out of your comfort zone doesn’t always feel good in the moment.
You may feel scared and nervous. That feeling doesn’t always go away after you take the first step. To be honest, it may even get a little worse when you’re in the middle.
Throughout the entire experience, you may feel like you failed. But you didn’t, simply because you took the step.
You tried something new. You survived. And I’ll almost guarantee that you will have learned something about yourself.
So how about you? Have you been staying in your comfort zone for far too long? Share one thing in the comments that you’re going to do that forces you to get out of it and try something new.