When is the last time you stepped outside your comfort zone?
If you’re thinking to yourself, “I like to be comfortable,” believe me, I get it. I like to be comfortable myself. If changing out of work clothes and into PJs and fuzzy slippers were an Olympic sport, I’d have a gold medal.
It isn’t just the appeal of fuzzy slippers that keeps us in our comfort zones. Sometimes, we fear change and instead yearn for the safety of what’s familiar. However, when you want to create meaningful change in your life, playing it safe is often the last thing you should do. As the saying goes, “Outside your comfort zone is where the magic happens.”
In 2008, I was a successful professional making a six-figure salary at a national nonprofit. However, I had come to hate my job so much that I found myself crying uncontrollably on my flights home from the Washington, D.C. office. As unhappy as I was, I felt profoundly stuck; despite my best efforts, I wasn’t able to extricate myself from the job I hated.
One Friday afternoon, I was working in my office in Columbia when I received a phone call from the company’s president telling me what I had intuited from the moment I heard her voice.
For the first time in my career, I was laid off.
I hung up the phone and was filled with conflicting emotions. Both anxious and relieved, I felt as if the warden had just released me from prison, but I had nowhere to go.
After the shock wore off, the panic began to set in. I needed to find another job and fast. Then, I had a flash of insight that profoundly changed my professional life. I realized the universe had just helped me to do what I hadn’t been able to do for myself — get out of my comfort zone. If I wanted to transform my life, I needed to find the courage to stay outside that zone.
“I don’t even know what my soul work is,” I remember telling my good friend Michelle.
“That’s easy — helping people,” she replied. And there it was. The first big clue in what felt like a gigantic scavenger hunt for clues to my future.
During the next four months, I began to think about my life’s possibilities in new ways. “Just do it,” my friend Laura said, as I spoke anxiously about my dream of starting my own business.
“Easy for you to say,” I thought to myself because Laura was a successful business owner herself. But as I let my friend’s advice sink in, I knew she was right; it was just that simple. If not now, when?
As Jim Rohn says, “If you don’t change what you are doing today, all your tomorrows will look like yesterday.” Today, believe in yourself, and take your first step toward a better tomorrow. When you dare to step outside your comfort zone and move your dreams from the back burner, the transformation in your life can be truly magical.
Carolyn’s challenge: If you’re ready to examine the fears that keep you in your comfort zone and to live a life filled with more courage, check out Brene Brown’s latest book, Daring Greatly.
About Carolyn: At the height of the recession, Carolyn took her dreams off the back burner and started her own business, New Chapter Coaching. Crazy or confident, she’s never looked back. She’s dedicated to helping nonprofits get results that improve people’s lives and helping others make a difference along the way. Carolyn’s hit what she calls the career trifecta: She gets to do what she loves with clients she respects and earns a living doing it. She wishes the same for everyone.