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  • Writer's pictureBehind Her Brand

Pushing Beyond My Comfort Zone

Updated: Jun 5

Written By: Shannon D. Martin

For many years, I stayed safe by doing what was familiar and comfortable. But I felt unsatisfied. My biggest dreams seemed out of reach. I dreamed of a life filled with adventure, creativity, and meaning. Fear and self-doubt, however, kept me back. My comfort zone had turned into a haven of isolation, keeping me from reaching my goals and living life to the fullest. I realized that in order to live the life I truly wanted, I needed to step outside of my comfort zone.

My comfort zone was my safe haven. It was like my own personal security blanket where everything was cozy, and I could predict how my day would go. Who doesn't love a good routine, right? But there comes a point when you start feeling like you're stuck in a rerun of your own life, and the popcorn has become stale.

I had to identify my personal comfort zone. What events made me nervous and made me avoid taking risks? Speaking in public, expressing myself, pursuing new things, and drawing attention to myself were all major sources of anxiety for me. To cope with these fears and self-imposed limits, I had to become aware of them. I had to talk through these risks, asking myself why they make me nervous and what steps I could take to make them easier for me to conquer.

Taking the first steps is truly terrifying; it's like swimming in shark-infested waters, knowing you are the bait. Well, that’s how I felt; it was daunting, and that crippled me for years. I had to test the waters before taking the plunge.

I started small, trying things that were a bit out of my usual routine. It felt strange at first, but I slowly began to feel more comfortable in new settings and situations. I was learning to be comfortable with the discomfort. Discomfort is slowly becoming my best friend. I am beginning to attend social functions where I have to introduce myself to others. I am being invited to outings and networking events that I actually want to attend. I am learning to chat again and listen in before I speak. I am learning to be comfortable with my voice and how I am growing. These settings used to be very uncomfortable for me, to the point where I stopped going to functions for years, but I wanted to enjoy life again. After all, I can say “no”. It truly is a whole sentence.

I had an Ah-ha moment; the light bulb came on, and I realized that I wanted more—I wanted to accomplish my dreams and my goals. I have raised my children and taken care of my mother, and now I want to do something for myself. To do that, I have to jump! The lifestyle I envision is on the other side of fear and self-doubt. I have to talk to myself and be my own cheerleader at times, and I finally came to the understanding that it was time to step outside of my bubble and enjoy my life.

My confidence is growing with each small step forward. The grip of fear is slowly fading. My inner critic is softening, and my self-talk has become more encouraging and kind. I realized I had accomplished more than I had previously given myself credit for. I have created a podcast that I was too afraid to create. My inner critic was telling me that I couldn’t host a podcast because of my southern ease or imposter syndrome. It was telling me that you’re not qualified to talk to others about mental health or create a business around it. One day, I stopped listening and, nervously, just decided to jump!

Of course, there are struggles along the way. At times, self-doubt and fear crept back in. But I chose to see these circumstances as lessons that would help me on my way instead of reasons to give up. Knowing that I also have a strong support system cheering for me keeps me going. I began concentrating on how far I had already come rather than how far I still had to go.

Now, here I am, pursuing my biggest dreams: establishing my own subscription business, publishing my first book, hosting my podcast, and cultivating a positive community around me. My days are still challenging, but very rewarding. I use techniques that I lean into growth rather than fleeing from when I encounter anxiety or resistance.

Stepping out of your comfort zone isn't a one-time thing; it's adopting a lifestyle where you're up for anything. It's not about having a master plan; it's more like saying 'yes' to more interesting plans that come your way. Stepping out of my comfort zone wasn't about changing who I was. It was more about discovering the 'me' that was waiting outside the bubble—a funnier, more spontaneous version of Shannon.

If you have the confidence to pursue your dreams, they are attainable. The most difficult part is simply getting started. But once you do, you'll discover there’s so much more outside of your bubble.

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way that you can use in your own journey:

Establish your own personal comfort zone. What activities, events, or risks are you avoiding? Make it clear so you know exactly what boundaries to push past.

Think about your big, scary dreams and goals. What kind of life do you want? Allow this to inspire and motivate you.

Create a plan of small, doable steps you can take outside of your comfort zone to make your journey more comfortable.

Slowly, introduce new experiences. Don't expect a miraculous tran sformation. Moving slowly minimizes emotional overload.

Speak positive affirmations every day that are encouraging. Use them to counteract negative self-talk. Be your own cheerleader!

Be aware of your stress, avoid emotional exhaustion, and practice constant self-care. Don't overextend yourself.

Reward and celebrate every accomplishment and win, no matter how small. This kind of positive reinforcement keeps you motivated.

Don't punish yourself for setbacks. Consider these as opportunities for growth rather than reasons to give up.

Continue to push forward. Complacency can lead to relapse, so constantly ask yourself, "What's next?"

Expand your horizons gradually. Allow each accomplishment to push you forward in new areas.

Remember that growth requires a lifetime commitment. Expect some discomfort, and be gentle with yourself.

Maintain your balance. When you need to recharge, spend some time in your comfort zone.

Maintain your perspective. Even the most successful people have a zone of comfort. Yours does not define your potential.

Stepping out of your comfort zone is like adding a pinch of spice to a recipe. It's not about throwing away the old flavors; it's about creating something new and exciting. You have dreams for a reason; they guide you to your higher self. You can create a life beyond your wildest dreams if you have consistent determination and compassion. Your comfort zone is not a limitation unless you allow it to be. As I continue to embrace the unknown, I'm learning that life's a lot more interesting when you allow a little bit of quirkiness and unpredictability sneak in. You just have to jump!

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