“Life always begins with one step outside of your comfort zone.”
― Shannon L. Alder
Most people understand a "comfort zone" to be the world we create for ourselves that is safe, secure and made of familiar routines. It can be a space to protect and nourish all the good things in our life. It can also be used as a shield in the hopes of guarding against everything from small anxieties to enormous emotional pain. Figuring out when to stay within the confines of your comfort zone and when to leap into uncharted territories can be scary but navigating these decisions can have big and positive rewards.
Take a moment and think of an activity considered run of the mill that you personally dread doing and try hard not to engage in. Whether it's traveling, meeting new people or standing up for yourself (even to people you already know and love); the way you avoid these interactions is how you have created your comfort zone. By not stretching yourself in anyway, you may feel safe in your little fortress. But experiencing some stress and anxiety is a part of life. This protected place also removes the possibility of transition and growth which gives life meaning and value.
More often than not, it is fear and the thought of failure that keeps us from accepting a more challenging road. But the reality is that we do have the ability to overcome obstacles and be rewarded for our efforts. Like many things, expanding your personal boundaries doesn't have to start with an enormous act. You can take small steps and like a cup of coffee meld a variety of flavors from your personality to create new blends to replace the standard way you deal with things. Taking different combinations and using them in different life situations.
It's important to remember that the totality of your life doesn't just consist of positive feelings and happy experiences. Only by tapping into your emotional reservoir can you find out how deep it is.
If you can allow yourself to see the risk as a benefit in and of itself, you will stop settling for middling to fair and reach for the top shelf.
Finding the right balance means evaluating the timing and getting to know yourself. Some people find they thrive by being stretched in multiple directions while others may take a while to find their personal threshold. Your goals, dreams, ambition and needs are unique and are waiting on the other side of that comfort zone. Take all of your fears and anxieties and forge ahead anyway.