How to Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

by Stacey Curnow on · 7 comments

hiker

When my life was on the fritz, here's what I found when I looked under the hood…

I've always been the financial provider in my family, supporting my husband as he pursues his dream of writing the great American novel, but one day, I just wasn't happy with it any more.

I had noticed, too, that what I loved most about my work as a nurse midwife was talking with my patients about their hopes for their lives and their families. I realized that I was not only helping them give birth to their babies -­ I was helping them give birth to their dreams.

And then, four years ago, I had an epiphany. "These women need a midwife for their LIFE." And my personal coaching business was born. I built it while I continued to work the same hours at my hospital job.

It required me to work a lot of late nights and weekends, but when my clients told me that I had helped them accomplish dreams they had all but given up on, it made it all worth it. In fact, it became all I wanted to do.

And so my business grew a lot over its first two years, but not enough to support my family.

So I should've stayed at my hospital job, right?

But I couldn't do it.

I saw my friends being supported by their husbands as they pursued their creative dreams, and I looked at my husband, and I thought, "Why should they get to pursue their passions and I don't? When would it be my time?"

It made me feel jealous and powerless and taken advantage of, and I couldn't stand it. Yes, I want my husband to become the next JK Rowling, but I can't wait forever. I was using food and mediocre television to fill the void of wanting what I couldn't have, and that created more pain I didn't need.

And then, in February of 2011, I had another epiphany: I was coaching people to step out of their comfort zone, but I wasn't willing to step out of mine.

You know, I talk with people every day who dream of quitting their soul-sucking job to do work they truly love.

And I ask them what they're doing to achieve their dream and the answer almost always breaks my heart. There's a huge discrepancy between what they say they want to do and what they're actually doing.

That was me – and if that's you, if you're one of those people who don't know what your purpose is, OR you say you want to do your purpose-driven work, but you're not taking action to get you closer to whatever that is, then you probably feel like there's something wrong with you.

You probably think you're lazy or unmotivated. Maybe you think you don't want success that much, or that you are somehow broken.

Well, here's what you need to know and I want you to remember it:

There is nothing wrong with you.

You are not broken. You're not unmotivated. You're not lazy. And it's not hopeless.

Whether you know your purpose or not, I have learned from my life and from my clients' experiences that the pain you feel as you compare your life to your dreams comes from having tried to achieve those dreams-and having failed.

You may have tried multiple times; you may have given your dreams varying degrees of time and effort. But all the other demands on you made you lose focus, or you met with a barrier that seemed insurmountable, and it didn't work out. And when you think of trying again it hurts too much.

But here's the thing: You're in pain now. And re-engaging with your dreams may hurt even more-for a while. But it won't hurt for as long as you think it will.

And the only way to make the hurt go away is to start now.

The REASON that you HURT when you think, "Who am I to want more? Why can't I be happy with what I've got?" is because, quite simply, it is NOT TRUE that you shouldn't want more and that you CAN be happy with what you've got.

You are here to give so much more and it is a disservice to your God-given talent not to. And that's why it hurts. Because you are betraying yourself and your purpose.

OK, if I haven't scared you off or offended you, and you're still with me, you KNOW you have something more to offer, something really great, but you just don't know how to get it out in the world.

Here's what I want you to know: a breakdown is ALWAYS followed by a breakthrough. It's always darkest before the dawn, you know?

And it's actually Universal Law – you WOULD NOT be given the challenge without the opportunity for healing it, right in front of you.

That's what I realized back in February of 2011.

I knew that I didn't want to stay on staff at the hospital , but I believed that our family needed the "security" that my job provided. I thought my coaching business and writing career could support us, but I had no guarantees…which led me back to wondering why I couldn't just be happy with my job at the hospital.

It wasn't that bad, was it??

Those stressful thoughts are what led to my breakdown – and my breakthrough. I couldn't believe I was in such a bad place – overwhelmed by doomsday scenarios and too scared to think straight.

But along with all the dark fears, I'd also get a moment of clarity when I knew I should give up my staff position. BUT then the moment would pass and my heart would start racing again and I would be in tears thinking that I couldn't possibly leave.

And then I would get another flash of insight. It was like I was walking on a dark road and every once in a while a car would go by and its headlights would illuminate the path and show some sign, like a guidepost, and I would know again that I was on the right track. But the insights and the clarity always seemed so fleeting.

I would get them and almost immediately I'd be back in the land of fear and despair.

I couldn't believe that I was in such an undesirable, untenable position. I couldn't believe that I had been brought this far to fail. All I kept thinking was about what I didn't want. At some point in the depths of that despair, I heard a small voice inside that said, "What do you want?"

As soon as I got clear on what I wanted, I received a gift in the form of a thought-a thought I want to share with you: I don't know what the future holds, but I know I can figure this out. I will figure out how I can do what I love and support my family. No matter what .

It's now been over 2 years since I stepped waaayyy out of my comfort zone and quit my hospital job. While it hasn't been easy, it has been possible for me to support my family from doing work I love.

What's possible for you when you replace, "I can't do it." with "How could I do it?"

Please let me know in the comments below!


by Stacey Curnow

Stacey is a purpose and success coach who helps you give birth to your BIG dreams. To find your purpose and passion, check out her FREE eBook, The Purpose and Passion Guidebook.
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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer RIchardson August 10, 2013 at 7:46 am

I love the way you process
possibility!
Thanks for this beautiful, bountiful, affirming
bit of goodness,
a shot of B-12 to my soul:)
-Jennifer
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Stacey August 10, 2013 at 8:40 am

Hi Jennifer!

Thanks so much for letting me know you enjoyed this post! And I love the thought of it being a shot of B-12 to your soul!

Here’s to TRUSTING that everything happens *for* us!

Much love,
Stacey
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Evan August 10, 2013 at 7:12 pm

An alternative is to take a small comfortable step in the direction of your dream or desire (there may be one – and you probably won’t find it if you don’t look for it).
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Stacey August 11, 2013 at 7:05 am

Hi Evan!

Thanks so much for your comment! Yes, I love your alternative suggestion! It reminds me of a favorite quote from Lao Tzu, “Stop leaving and you will arrive. Stop searching and you will see. Stop running and you will be found.”

Much love,
Stacey
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Rakesh Narang August 17, 2013 at 8:53 am

It is actually very easy to get out of comfort zone — interact with other people. There are always those extra-ordinary guys, who are performing much more efficiently than you are — those people will motivate you to break out of your comfort zone and thus improve yourself.

Alternatively, you can always set new highs for yourself. That’s how growth happens!
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Stacey August 17, 2013 at 9:02 am

Hi Rakesh!

Thanks so much for your comment! You make a very good point — it requires quite a bit of stepping outside of my comfort zone to talk with people I don’t know, but it’s always worth it.

Just the other day I struck up a conversation with a family who is staying in an RV park that my son and I bike past every day. All summer long we wondered about these families, but never had the courage to “bother” them by saying hello.

Finally I realized that I wanted to find out more about the lifestyle of people who travel across country in an RV more than I wanted to preserve some idea of decorum.

We immediately struck up a lovely conversation and that was a great reward for my reaching out — but most of all I’m glad that I set that example for my son of getting out of the comfort zone.

Thanks again for your comment and excellent suggestion, Rakesh.
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Sebastian October 25, 2013 at 10:54 pm

It takes a lot of courage and faith to quit a job and pursue your dreams when you have a family. I admire you deeply for that. You saying that you were able to manage gives me confidence that I’ll be able to as well. How’s your husband doing?
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