He sold everything and hit the road with his wife and one-year-old. He thought he was prepared for what happened next.
Your comfort zone isn’t helping you grow. But we can fix that.
This year my wife and I sold almost everything we own, bought a tiny travel trailer and hit the road. She’s a voice-over actor and I’m an author, so we can both make money from anywhere. Oh, I should probably mention that we brought our one-year-old daughter along too. (Yes, we are crazy.)
This epic road trip was supposed to be full of nothing but carefree fun. But it quickly changed into one of the biggest personal challenges of my life.
Within the first two weeks, I found myself way out of my comfort zone in every way possible. Socially, financially, geographically, emotionally, physically and every other part of life that ends with ‘ally’.
Looking back, this should not have been such a surprise. But it was, and I wasn’t prepared for it.
Being yanked out of my comfort zone for more than two months was extremely hard, but already I see positive growth in myself as a result. Here are three lessons I’ve learned from being stretched outside my comfort zone.
The only place growth can occur is outside your comfort zone.
Living on the road full-time is a challenge. It’s not for the weak. Your days are full of unknowns, and everything seems to be 25% more difficult to accomplish. When unknowns become the new norm, emotional challenges and growth are always near by.
I like things to be predictable, or at least somewhat under my control. Living in a world of unknowns often leaves me frustrated.
This way of living has tested my emotions in every way you can imagine. As a result, my ability to handle tough situations has improved. Emotionally speaking, I was weaker when we started, and I am stronger now. This would not have been possible if it weren’t for being stretched so far out of my comfort zone.
I am a million times more able to emotional handle tough situations in my life, and it’s all due to being so far out of my comfort zone for such a long period.
Adding weight in the gym is the only way to grow stronger physically. And the same goes for your emotions. Adding weight to your emotions looks different, but it works the same.
I fear the unknown. I suppose it’s the primal side of me that wants to stick to safe and familiar territory for safety’s sake.
The problem is we often fear things that are not in the slightest bit dangerous. Fear is too often misused by our minds to keep us safe from things that aren’t dangerous. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if it weren’t for the fact that the fear of the unknown often keeps us from experiencing the very things that would make our lives better.
Unknown does not always equal dangerous. Unknown means just that. When we are stretched outside our comfort zone, we get to face many fears. And when those fears turn out not to be harmful, but life-giving, that is where growth occurs. When we get less and less fearful of the world, we get to enjoy more of what’s out there.
Becoming less fearful of change, the future, and the unknown is where most of the benefits of getting out of your comfort zone come from.
We can’t talk about your comfort zone without talking about comfort.
Comfort is a form of weakness. Yes, it’s true.
The more comforts you need to be okay, the weaker you are.
The strong are made of those who can move forward in conditions that others would consider uncomfortable. Marines and soldiers aren’t made in comfortable conditions.
But you don’t need to join the armed forces to toughen yourself up a little. Getting out of your comfort zone more often will allow you to grow in unexpected ways.
When you have to have comforts surrounding you at all times they are making you weaker and weaker. (There’s nothing wrong with comfort as long as we aren’t relying on it to the point where we can’t do without.)
How uncomfortable you can be while still functioning and moving your life forward is one of the great tests of life. It’s also the best indicator of success is many areas of life.
Are you too comfortable?
I mentioned a few “areas of comfort” that I have recently stretched. (Socially, financially, geographically, emotionally, physically.)
What area of your life have you found yourself too comfortable with? What can you do this week to stretch yourself and expand your comfort zone?
Let’s finish with a quote from author Chris Murray…
“Everything you desire is always just outside your comfort zone, dear boy. If it wasn’t you would already possess it, would you not?”
Photo: Flickr/ Andy Pixel