Sunday, June 17, 2012

What is Life Like Beyond your Comfort Zone?

Most of us are familiar with the term “comfort zone.” I honestly wish it had a different name! It just sounds so…well, comforting. I think it should be called the predictable zone, the boring zone, the cocoon…any of those names will do! Our comfort zone is the place where we keep doing what is familiar and safe. We are afraid to venture out into something new because we might mess up, get embarrassed, or any number of uncomfortable feelings.
Neale Donald Walsch once said that “life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” and I really believe that. Sometimes, the things we’re scared to do are often the most exhilarating and satisfying. Things like talking to a handsome stranger, delivering a speech, or singing karaoke.
Phil Stutz and Barry Michels, authors of the book, The Tools, address this in a really unique and powerful way. They suggest fully embracing the feeling associated with leaving your comfort zone instead of avoiding it. (I highly recommend checking out their book for the full explanation of this exercise, as well as the other transformative tools they suggest.) I’ve tried this a few times in the last week and it’s actually really fun to do! I was at Starbucks the other day and there was a very tall, attractive woman in line behind me. I was intimidated by her but I embraced the feeling and started talking to her anyway. She was so nice and we had a lovely conversation about being tall! It might sound silly, but I felt really alive and happy afterwards! This is just a small example, but it applies to bigger things as well. I actually applied for a job that is way out of my comfort zone. I met the owner and had an interview, and now I’m just waiting to hear back. Even if I don’t get the job, the experience itself has been so exhilarating. I’m proud of myself for going for it and I have more courage to keep going. This reminds me of a beautiful quote that I’ve heard so many times, but now it holds a powerful new meaning:
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”  –Anais Nin
If you think about it, everything was once unfamiliar. From the basics of talking and walking, to everyday activities like driving and cooking, we have to try new things on a regular basis. After a while, they become familiar and automatic.
So what is life like beyond your comfort zone? It is exhilarating, exciting, and fun. It’s filled with new experiences that are truly fulfilling. Think about all the best things in your life right now. Imagine if you didn’t take that extra step that led you to those experiences?
I feel another quote coming on!
“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.”  –Henry David Thoreau
In what ways can you go beyond your current comfort zone?
You could:
Start the business you’ve been dreaming about
Apply for a job that feels a little out of reach
Make a new friend
Submit your artwork to a gallery
Start a challenging new workout routine
Life really does begin at the end of your comfort zone. Embrace the discomfort and watch it dissolve. And if you do, you’ll meet with success unexpected in common hours.

(You can also read the article here:


Brian said...

Hi again Angela. I know all about the comfort zone. I've discovered many of my accomplishments occurred when I was out of the zone, so I can relate. I remember taking a flight to Spain in 2005 and I sat next to a girl who was heading to Portugal. She was around my age and she was cute.

I am very shy, but I stuck up a conversation with her. We had a pleasant chat about traveling and I also discovered she was an organizer for Tony Robbins's events. I could relate to her because I had the opportunity to participate in similar event called the Landmark Forum on living life powerfully and living a life I love. Needless to say, the conversation with her made the 6 hour flight seem like nothing.

I can relate on the hesitation of striking up conversations with strangers especially in your case in Starbucks when most people are focused on getting their coffee to start their day. It's interesting your conversation with the woman at Starbucks was on being tall. How tall are you and how does such a conversation go?


Angela said...

Great story Brian!
I'm about 5'11". I don't remember the specifics of our conversation, but I remember it felt wonderful to talk to her! She was so nice, and not intimidating at all :)
Thanks for your comment and thanks for reminding me of this delightful moment!
Have a great day!

Brian said...

Wow, 5'11". You must have the whole world look up to you :) I'm just kidding; I'm sure it must have had an impact growing up early on and plays a part of who you are today. And in my opinion, I think it's a lovely height for a girl.

I had the opposite situation growing up. In intermediate school and most of high school, I was and one of the shortest in the class and a late bloomer. I was in denial, but most girls were taller; even the shorter ones. There was one girl I liked who sat next to me in band in 8th grade. At one discussion, we got into a tit-for-tat argument over who is taller. Unfortunately, she was by an inch and I didn't appreciate it when she chose to wear heels at band concerts and school dances.

There was another time in 9th grade when I overheard a girl at my bus stop who said she was measured and grew an inch to 5'4", but in my mind I said to myself, "Wait, I'm 5'3", so all this time she was taller than me." My heart sank and accepted the possibility of being short and unable to compete socially and or have any physical presence.

It wasn't until late high school and even early college I finally got that growth spurt to my current height of 6'. It's was interesting from time to time to see some former class mates reactions when they see me, especially now that I am dwarfing many of these girls even if they wore heels.

Even though high school was a long time ago, I still feel like I am that short, helpless kid in school. However, I would not change a thing in the past because that experience helped me become who I am today.

Once again, thanks for sharing Angela.


Angela said...

Brian, that's such a great story!