My daughter was only six years old when we moved to Germany for two years. My 10-year-old son had already learned basic English. The only English our daughter knew was “What’s your name?” and “How are you?”
She did not speak at all during her first three months of first grade at the International School of Stuttgart. Instead, she observed, listened, and actively participated. I was so afraid—had we thrown her into the deep end with no hope of survival? Then, exactly three months from the first day of school, she opened her mouth and spoke nearly fluent English.
Now my daughter is applying to master’s programs for clinical psychology. Last week, she shared her application essay with me. What touched me deeply while reading her story was how she is able to see herself as a brave, determined young woman who continuously challenges herself to take risks. As one of my girlfriends says, we give our children a gift when we allow them to experience the rewards of stepping out of their comfort zones.
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” —Neale Donald Walsch
Why is stepping out of your comfort zone scary?
One of the 12 Practices for Living at Full Power is Live Outside Your Comfort Zone. If you are a beacon of change, you know that moving through uncertainty is an important aspect of any change process. Creating change means not always knowing what’s ahead. There are two things that might stop you from stepping out of your comfort zone:
- Fear (usually of failure or the unknown)
- Lack of skills or knowledge (such as how to set boundaries) to create the reality that you want
Let’s face it: we are wired to seek comfort. Even when we know in our hearts that our current situation is not the best for us, it still feels safer than the unknown that lies beyond.
“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
Who do you really want to be: a risk taker or a comfort seeker?
If you were on your death bed looking back at your life, who would you want to see more—a person who took risks or one who sought comfort?
Looking back at my life, every time I worked through my fears, I took a giant leap in my spiritual journey. Living in three different countries required a lot of work, but it opened my eyes to endless opportunities. Moving from Atlanta to New York as empty nesters seemed like an insane decision, but it started my husband and I on an exciting adventure and brought new purpose to our lives. Leaving a stable job years ago to create my Beacons of Change brand required a lot of trust, but it also helped me to contribute to the world in a bigger way.
What about you, beloved? What has helped you grow the most? Staying in your comfort zone or stepping out of it?
My experience is that allowing our fears to be in control costs us opportunities and growth. Forget about your current tendencies. Ideally, who do you want to be, a risk taker or a comfort seeker?
By the way – seeking comfort is not always bad
Living at full power means ditching your fears and stepping out of your comfort zone and into your greatness. But there are always exceptions to the rule.
If taking a dance class is stepping out of your comfort zone, but it hurts your back, then don’t force yourself. If exercising is a good stretch for you, but you know in your gut some days that your body needs to rest, give yourself permission to do so.
Dare to live outside your comfort zone, but also dare to stay there when you know it’s better for you.
What’s out of the comfort zone for you might be inside the comfort zone for me
If you are an energetic, extroverted person, your comfort zone might be playing hard and taking big actions. Slowing down and being in solitude might be outside your comfort zone. For somebody else, it might be the opposite: turning inward and spending time alone might feel safe and familiar while taking action is absolutely outside of their comfort zone.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Your unique gifts and tendencies are yours alone.
Like everything else in life, we have the power to choose. Living at full power means choosing when to accept our fears and allow ourselves to stay where we are and when to stretch, grow, and expand.
Who do you choose to be? A risk taker or a comfort seeker? Are you ready to stand up and roar?
In what areas of life can you challenge yourself to be who you want to be?