Have you ever sat back, looked at your life, and felt completely at ease? You love your job, you’ve got a routine established, and overall you feel comfortable with where things are. If that’s the case, then it’s time for a change. If you’re not there yet, keep on keepin’ on and you’ll get there. And when you do, don’t stay there for too long. I know, crazy right? Stay with me on this.
I’m a firm believer in leaving my comfort zone, but I wasn’t always. I grew up in a small town where folks are born and raised for generations. Nothing wrong with that at all. In fact, there’s a lot of comfort in knowing where your life is going. I left my hometown for university and found that after graduation most people either went back to their hometown or stayed put where they went to school. We were in the latter camp. My husband and I were both fortunate enough to find good employment after school. We hunkered down, paid off student loans, saved for a house, and assumed that we would have kids and settle down. Our plans didn’t really go past that.
When our plans to have kids hit a snag (infertility issues and my father’s passing), we re-evaluated everything. Moments of crisis tend to throw other aspects of your life into sharp relief, don’t they? After my dad passed, we promised each other that we would stop trying for a baby for one year to allow time to grieve and reassess our goals. What happened a year later was completely unexpected – we both had changed our minds.
Here we were with a brand new 4-bedroom dream house in suburbia and no desire to fill it. Despite our surprise, we were at ease with our decision. We focused on our careers, family and friends, and making our new house a home. We kept checking in with each other every few months, and for a year or two all things were great. We forged ahead, and I personally reached a point in my life where I loved my job. We finally finished decorating our house and became great friends with our neighbors. Life was good. Heck, life was great. Why would we change anything?
That’s when the universe gave us an unexpected push. It was a snowy day in January when my husband sent me a job posting that caught his eye. I immediately dismissed it as a fantasy. You dream of living in the Caribbean, but who actually DOES that? I also freaked out over the logistics of moving to a different country. What about our things? Our house? Our friends? My job? My dog? Way too many scary questions. It was much easier to stay where we were. We dismissed the idea for a few days, but deep down it stuck with both of us. My husband asked a few more questions about the posting and found out that it was a great career move for him. So, we went for it! And it scared the h-e-double hockey sticks out of us. And, it was the best decision we ever made.
We sold, stored and packed up our things, sold our house, said our sad goodbyes to our family and friends, and found an amazing pet relocation service to help us bring our dog. We did it. It wasn’t easy, but we did it.
And if we hadn’t done it, we would have missed out on some amazing experiences that have been made available to us solely because of the move. We’ve traveled to England, France, Hong Kong, and Tokyo, and even had dinner with HRH Prince Edward at Windsor Castle (seriously, I sat right beside him at the dinner table)!
A good friend once told me that you should always leave when you’re on top, when you’ve peaked. Now, I completely agree! It’s certainly the hardest time to leave, but I would rather look back with pleasant memories than with bitter ones. I don’t want to leave because someone told me I had to, or because I hated the situation so much that I needed to get out.
Since our big move I find that it’s been much easier to push myself out of my comfort zone on a regular basis. If I can quit my job and leave everything behind to start over in a new country, then I can certainly handle smaller leaps of faith. For example:
- I learned how to drive on the “wrong” side of the road. On the island, we drive on the left. I was terrified I would screw this up. I had visions of going the wrong way in a roundabout (“roundaboot” if said with a proper Canadian accent). Although I have entered parking lots from the exit side on several occasions, I have done just fine. Now, I’m an ambidextrous driver, and the fear I had seems quite ludicrous in hindsight;
- I jumped off a boat. Well, it was technically a catamaran – a big one. I know this doesn’t sound like much, but for me it was huge. I know how to swim, but I’m terrified of heights and even more terrified of jumping from them. Add the anticipated shock of hitting cold water and I’m beyond consoling. Over two years I made two separate attempts, and both times I panicked and backed-out. I was mad at myself both those times and vowed that the next opportunity I got I’d make the jump. And I did! I didn’t die of shock (I was jumping into the Caribbean Sea, so it wasn’t exactly cold!). No, I didn’t fly through the air gracefully like my husband, but mission accomplished! And aside from almost losing a contact lens and my bikini (!), it was a great experience. I can’t say that I’ve totally conquered my fear and would do it again, but I plucked up the courage to try it once and that’s something I’m proud of;
- I learned how to play golf. It took a lot of guts to step onto a driving range by myself (at that point I hadn’t really met anyone yet) and take that first swing. I’m sure I looked silly, but I kept reminding myself that anyone on the range that day started at the same place I did. If I hadn’t taken that first, incredibly uncomfortable step, I never would have met Bre and started this blog!
With each new experience, I’ve gained self-confidence, and it’s made me see the world in ways I never would have. I’ve also met some amazing people! Was it scary? Yup. Was I terrified of failing? Absolutely. Did I? Nope. Even though I may have stumbled a few times, the scenarios I had built up in my head were way worse than the reality.
Today, I’m challenging you to push yourself out of your comfort zone. It doesn’t have to be a huge push, it can be a nudge. Comfortable with yoga? Try spinning instead. Can’t dance? Try Zumba. Logging the same 5k on the treadmill? Head outdoors or try running barefoot.
Looking for a bigger change? Go back to school, pursue that dream job, take that big trip, or talk to that handsome stranger you always see on the bus. Whatever it is, put on your big girl panties and go for it!
And if you need to research something to death like I do, try the following books. I found them all helpful in my journey. Just be sure to put into action what you read!
BE UNCOMFORTABLE & EMBRACE CHANGE! You’ll thank yourself for it.
Stepped out of your comfort zone lately? Share your inspiration with us!