How often do you step outside your comfort zone, and when you do, how far are you willing to go? About three years ago, I started taking baby steps. My stride is slowly but surely getting bigger. Come February 2020, I’ll be taking my biggest leap to date — 5,100 km away from home.

“Explain why exactly you want to go to Guatemala,” my husband asked.

It was a fair question.

Having just returned from a less than stellar trip to Cuba where bad buffet food and bed bugs are as rough as it gets, why would I sign up for a two-week trip that prompted the organizer to let us in on the safe word she’ll use if she sees “an imminent emergency, perhaps something life or death, perhaps something involving the potential for violence?”

Because I want to step further out of my comfort zone. That’s why.

– Related reading: 10 ways to step outside your comfort zone (Forbes) –

When you step outside your comfort zone:

1. You become more comfortable with risk.

Whether stepping outside your comfort zone involves speaking in public, launching a new business, or jumping off a cliff in San Marcos (into water, I should add), the more you do it, the more resilient you discover yourself to be.

Think about the last risk you took. Can you remember how you felt before taking the leap? Butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms, a serious case of dry mouth … yet here you are, in one piece, reading this post. In other words, YOU SURVIVED!

I don’t think taking risks makes us emotionally stronger. I think we’re born strong. Taking risks simply shines a spotlight on the innate strength we lose sight of throughout our lifetimes as events (and parents) tell us it’s better to play safe, which often translates into playing small. But we can play bigger if we want to. And the more leaps we take — and survive — the closer we get to living with abandon.

Step outside your comfort zone 1

Photo credit: Günther Schneider from Pixabay

2. You learn to manage your expectations.

Remaining in your comfort zone is so… well… it’s just so darn comfortable, isn’t it? My Dad isn’t ashamed to admit he likes McDonald’s hamburgers. Why? Because they’re predictable. “You always know what you’re going to get,” he says. And he’s right.

While I don’t share my dad’s passion for burgers, I do appreciate predictability in other areas of my life. The thing is, though, more rests outside of our control than rests within it. If we expect our expectations to be met at every turn, life is going to serve up a whole lot of disappointment.

Like the aspiring stand-up comic who takes the mic for the first time, when you step outside your comfort zone you step into the great unknown. You can’t possibly predict the outcome so you approach with the understanding that any outcome is possible. Do it often enough and over time you learn to replace expectations with pure curiosity, and “curiosity is one of the great secrets of happiness.” (Bryant H. McGill)

– Related reading: Feeling complacent? It may be time for a reboot

3. You nurture your creativity.

We may not all be Mozarts, but we are all creative creatures. Some may express creativity through art. Others may express it through problem-solving. Regardless of how our creativity manifests, we are all capable of thinking creatively, and the more we do so, the more creative we become.

In order to step outside your comfort zone, you must open yourself up to new experiences, which can’t be done without exercising your curiosity and imagination — both of which feed your creativity — and to exercise, you need to get off that comfy couch.

4. You get to deepen your relationship with humankind.

There are approximately 7.7 billion people in this world. I’m guessing here, but let’s say that between friends, colleagues, and family members, the average North American interacts with the same dozen or so people every day, and perhaps half a dozen or so new ones.

What about the remaining 699,999,982? What do they have to teach you? You’ll never know if you don’t step outside the comfort of your immediate circle.

– Related reading: Afraid to leap into the unknown? Try this simple, stress-reducing exercise

5. You grow.

We are all shaped by our life experiences. The more experiences we have, the more we grow — intellectually and spiritually. Every time you step outside your comfort zone, you have a new opportunity to uncover potential you didn’t realize you had — and it takes knowing your potential to fully realize it.

Through personal growth, you may discover that you do indeed have the potential to enjoy healthier romantic relationships, be a better parent, live each day in greater peace, or achieve whatever it is you seek. Without personal growth, though, you’ll never know.

How can I be so sure? Because if your life experiences thus far had already equipped you with the tools to achieve whatever it is you seek, you’d have achieved it already.

– Related reading: Why it’s dangerous to become too comfortable (HuffPost) –

Oh, and one last thought…

Step outside your comfort zone 2

Photo credit: Anita S. from Pixabay

Once you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone, you always have the option of stepping back into it!

In other words, you can show your art in a public space and return to painting purely for the love of it.

You can put on a pair of heels to deliver a public speech and return to your onesie and slippers the minute you step through your front door.

And you can travel 5,100 km to explore a completely different culture with a safe word in your back pocket (just in case) and return to the place you call home and the people who make it so.

So really, it’s not as scary as it may seem.

Viv for today xo

Before you go …

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