"Great things never came from comfort zones."
- Neil Strauss
Intentionally getting uncomfortable is not something most people prefer to do. If anything, we will go out of our way to avoid uncomfortable situations or pursuits in order to preserve the bubble of security that prevents us from putting ourselves out there. It could be something as simple as tackling a new recipe for dinner, to something more daring, like speaking in front of hundreds of people in public. Either way, it's about taking risks by doing something that forces us out of our comfort zone, no matter how big or small those risks are.
I have experienced so many moments of discomfort in my life because of doing things where I was unsure of the outcome. I remember the first time a lifelong friend asked me to officiate her wedding. I felt it was an honor and a big deal. I agreed and made sure I was prepared to be a big part of her big day. I was nervous leading up to the wedding. I knew the couple very well and was hoping to just not screw up. To save you the suspense, the ceremony went well, and I even got a great review from her mom as an unofficial of stamp of approval.
Fast forward more than ten years and I have since presided over six more wedding ceremonies of family and friends. It has been one of the greatest honors for me. I never would have had the opportunity to develop my public speaking skills so much if I had turned down my friend because of my anxiety and unwillingness to step out of my comfort zone. I gained more confidence in public speaking because of my role as a wedding officiant. Oh, and I am happy to report, all seven couples are still married with almost 20 kids amongst them. I love being a part of that!
Getting out of our comfort zone is where we create opportunities to thrive and become more engaged with life. Attempting something new can be scary, but it can also be exciting if we are able to see the potential upsides and not let the dreaded "what ifs" cloud our minds. We can also reframe our thinking by turning the negative "what ifs" into positive ones. What if it all goes really well and I succeed? Whether it's taking a shot with that new recipe or speaking to hundreds of people in public, we won't know until we step out of our comfort bubble. Otherwise, we may get too comfortable wondering "What if?" for all the wrong reasons.