Achieving Success Outside Your Comfort Zone

On the evening of October 30, 1998, I along with four other women boarded a plane in Memphis, Tennessee destined for Berlin, Germany. My life at that very moment was anything but calm, and I was leaving behind every single comfort zone I had ever known.

We were heading to Europe for six weeks to complete our student teaching requirement for the University of Memphis. Our first destination was Berlin, Germany, then on to Birmingham, England.

My decision to take this trip was not an easy one.  The easy decision would have been to complete my entire fifteen weeks of student teaching in Memphis and not elect the option to go overseas.  To understand my decision means understanding my life at that moment.

Me with my host family in Potsdam, Germany

The previous year my mom had undergone emergency triple bypass surgery while at the same time my step-father was in another hospital with complications from lung cancer. He passed away just over a month after mom had her surgery.  I will not bore you with the details of the upheaval in my life at that time, but what I will say is that I was hanging on to every single shred of comfort I could find. Leaving my mom, even a year later and still not in great health, to go to a foreign country that was only ten years removed from Communist rule was not at the top of my agenda. Heck, it was not even on my agenda. The thought was completely terrifying to me.  So terrifying that I started having my first anxiety symptoms (aka chest heaviness) in the three months leading up to my departure.

To say I was stepping outside my comfort zone was such an understatement! I had to quit my job, move out of my apartment, and put all my belongings in storage. I had to find someone to keep my car and pay my bills while I was in Europe. Money was so tight because my mom could no longer work and had no other financial support except for my sister. My life was in complete upheaval, to say the least.

I’m sure at this moment you are asking why did I go ahead with my plan and disrupt my life so much?

Simply, I wanted something more than what I had, and that ‘want’ was more powerful than my fear. I was 30 years old at the time. The stress my parents’ health issues had placed on me was severe and I felt like I was 90 years old. The very foundation of my life, my parents, had crumbled and I was suddenly more the parent than the child. I wanted a break, to be free of so much responsibility even if only for a few weeks. I wanted to live more than I was scared.

My time in Europe was amazing, to say the least. I made so many friends and many of whom I am still in contact with today. I discovered a renewed interest in fun and in history (my teaching concentration). I also developed a renewed appreciation for the United States. But the most immediate result of taking the trip was a new lease on life.

Stepping outside your comfort can come in so many variations and does not always have to be something huge like uprooting your entire life. The little things like going to lunch by yourself can be a start or emailing someone you do not know to learn more about the company they work for.

I challenge each of your to look at your opportunities every day and think of all the amazing results that can come from each if only you step forward. Push yourself to focus on the possibilities and not on the fear of “what if _______ happens”. Stop focusing on what could go wrong and focus all your energy on what could go right.

So, this is me sitting here telling you that you are enough if you only believe.

Believe in yourself despite the odds.

Believe in yourself despite the uncomfortableness.

Believe in yourself when no one else will.


Because it’s you in the driver’s seat and you are enough.

See the world as full of endless possibilities.

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One thought on “Achieving Success Outside Your Comfort Zone

  1. What a positive reminder this is. I sometimes get thrown outside my comfort zone when it’s not my decision to do so, and simply knowing that it’s a chance to grow makes me go through those events much easier. Anyway, thanks for this post!

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