Lessons I Learned from Outside My Comfort Zone

outside my comfort zone

I used to play it safe. I spent years upon years living in a city I didn’t like, working in a job I loathed, and dating men who didn’t know how to love.

Essentially, I was flatlining.

Yet I stayed there – in that city, in that job, and in that relationship – because it was comfortable; it was safe.

I would wake up each morning promising myself I would do something about it…eventually. But I didn’t. I stayed there, in my comfort zone, with the curtains drawn, and a heavy heart.

I lost friends, gained weight, and lost faith until I finally cracked.

I remember it so clearly: It was a perfectly sunny day in October and I was ready; ready to break up once and for all with the man who made me miserable; ready to take the first step out of that city and ready to tell my boss my days were numbered.

It all happened so quickly – within a week I was single, had made the decision to move to Australia for a year, and told my boss that I had one foot out the door.

As soon as I made the conscious choice to change my life, to challenge myself, to finally indulge that little whisper deep within me – whose voice was getting louder with each passing day – things started to change in my life.

I started feeling lighter, I stopped wallowing, I strengthened my friendships, I saved more money than ever before, and I attracted love – the kind that makes your heart skip a beat, your palms sweat, and your toes curl with happiness – into my life without ever looking for it.

Fortunately, the man I fell in love with was an Aussie (imagine that!) and was moving back to Australia 6 weeks after I was due to arrive.

But I digress.

I had this sense of momentum I had never felt before and a sense of happiness that made my heart feel light; and it scared me to death.

What if it were to all fall apart? What if he turned out to be just like all the other men I had dated? What if * gasp* I hate Australia? My resistance crept back in just as easily as it had left, only this time there was no room for it.

Within weeks I was on a plane, on my way to meet my future, and ready to revel in the excitement (and discomfort) that comes with moving to the opposite side of the planet.

23 hours later and I finally stepped off the plane onto my new stomping grounds, eager to bask in the glorious adventure I had planned for myself.

Five days later, I wanted to go home.

I was jetlagged, lonely, lost and yearning for the comforts of home I once so desperately wanted to leave behind. But I decided to stay; to stick it out and see what this new life had in store for me.

A few weeks later and I opened my door to find The Aussie standing there, one week early, with a big smile on his face and three little words I had been longing to hear. It was there – in that hallway with the sunshine pouring in from the skylight above – that our journey together began.

We skipped from Australia to New Zealand, travelled from the Cook Islands to Canada, and jetted from Portugal to Costa Rica where he got down on bended knee on a deserted beach during a horrendous thunderstorm.

Two years later and my husband and I live in Thailand, run an online business together and continue to live an uncomfortable lifestyle – one that consistently challenges us and one I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be living if I had chose to keep playing it safe.

Is our lifestyle for everyone? Definitely not. I’m sure a lot of people think we’re crazy, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

After all, life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Photo by Tess Mayer

20 thoughts on “Lessons I Learned from Outside My Comfort Zone”

  1. Such a timely post for me!

    Over the last month: I turned 50, quit my job, got married, and moved to the mountains.

    I had whined and moaned about my life, where I lived and what I was doing professionally for years. Suddenly an opportunity manifested for me to be able to change it all. After the initial fear, I jumped off the edge of the cliff.

    So, now I sit in a new city, no job, no friends. I spent the first week stunned. Now it is time to start living my new life. I have the opportunity to take some time off to decide what I really want to do when I grow up.

    Wish me well!

    1. I wish you nothing but luck b Woody! I’m so happy to hear you took the plunge…and look what happened once you did! I’m thrilled for you :-)

  2. Good motivation for me as I am sicked of my drudgery work and just looking for something similar to what you had achieved. It is tough, scary and uncomfortable to embark a totally new journey which will change the course of your life. Your bravery is really inspiring! Salute you!

    1. Thank you so much Jason and all I can say is that it is absolutely possible for you to change your life. You just have to take the first step :-)

  3. Great piece, Jill. I can relate. A while back I took a trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After 3 days, I decided that I wanted to move there, something that I’ve never done before. While I didn’t do it right away, I spent the next year planning and preparing to make it happen. Even had a good job in a good company that just wasn’t doing it for me, leaving at the peak of the internet bubble. I knew it then and I know it now: it was one of the best decisions I ever made!

    So, whenever I look at a challenge in my life, I compare it to moving to a foreign country on my own. It puts things into perspective and makes things seem less intimidating. Thanks again for sharing your story :-)

  4. Fantastic story Jill! It’s always great to read these inspiring stories of people changing their lives for the better.

    I’ve made a lot of big changes in the last few years too including quitting the job that drained me and following my creative passions. It’s a good feeling to know you’re on the right path and truly living the life you’re meant to live!

  5. Jill, beautifully written story! Just like your story illustrates, I believe that when we take a firm and honest decision for a change, the whole universe starts assisting us. Once we take that first step, we start gaining the strength and internal power to keep going and turn our life around.

  6. Gabby

    I am going through a very similar issue right now except my wife and I are doing great. We have 2 kids and I ask my self the same question every single day. How do you act on impulse and take a chance when you have 2 other lives that depend on you for everything? If you or anyone else has found an answer please let me know.

  7. I am currently stuck in life I feel indifferent and unenthused about (and unfortunately probably will be for the foreseeable future) because I wasn’t brave enough to take a risk to stay somewhere that wasn’t a practical place for me to live, came with lots of challenges (linguistic, cultural..you name it) but that I absolutely LOVED, for the security of going back home to a ‘good’ job.

    I hope next time I have the opportunity to take the unknown path, I can be brave enough to go down it without knowing where I will end up. Posts like let me know that it can be done. Thank you Jill!

  8. Talk about radical change. Did you like NZ? My big move was from Canada to live in NZ. Now leaving the city for the small town. Looking forward to the change.
    Thailand is wonderful but I think I like KL better.

  9. this post sounds like me in so many ways. I am 25 years old, I have always been reserved and obedient in my everyday life to my parents, bf, friends and family. I am with someone that makes me miserable, he holds on too tight and restricts my dreams in doing so. I quit working and live in my parents house yet i long to be free from everyone.

    I finally dropped my selfish, shallow friends. i just wish i could finish uni, leave my parents and stop feeling like a prisoner in my own life.

    I am at home everyday, all day, including weekends, obese (thanks to BMI standards), friendless, depressed and in a huge rut.

    the summerised version.

  10. I really enjoyed reading your journey! What a destructive phrase ‘What if….’ can be though and, why is it, I wonder, that we usually finish it with something negative?! What if we finished it with something positive :-)

  11. Hi Jill,

    Thank you for writing this article and expressing your thoughts and feelings.

    I would like to share a quote that I’ve heard from peak performance coach Tony Robbins, it goes like this:

    “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”

    Because if you keep doing the same thing, you’ll probably keep getting the same results, which in most situations are disappointing results or outcomes. But the thought of doing something out of our comfort zone or character itself can be very challenging which is why most people never do. The fear of leaving the comfort zone is actually more overwhelming than what the situation actually is, most of the time.

    The way I personally overcome this whenever I have to leave my comfort zone is by asking myself these few questions:
    1) Am I ready to make a change yet?
    2) What’s the worst that can happen if I made that change?
    3) Am I ready to accept those consequences of making those changes and stepping outside of my comfort zone.

    And you know what, most of the time, it’s not as bad as you think it is.
    Don’t just ask what if, but also ask what if NOT?

    Hope that helps.


  12. I think an important thing to realize is that your sense of self should be temporary. Your perception changes the more you experience, and your comfort zone simply serves a limiting purpose. But I have definitely been, and still am, guilty of giving in to the comfort zone. I am in the process of challenging myself to venture outside it more often.

    I went to Japan for a year, and for the greater part of it, I stuck to the same habits I had back home. Needless to say, nothing changed. You can go half-way across the world, but if you don’t make an actual effort to change, you simply won’t. The times I challenged my comfort zone are definitely my fondest memories looking back.

    There’s a very important difference between running away from your life, and sprinting towards a better future. To anyone considering drastic lifestyle changes, make sure you follow through properly to change, not just change your geographic location.

    And while as you say that lifestyle might not be for everyone, I think experiencing something completely different is a worthwhile experience for well, everyone. All in all great post, very motivating.

  13. Great addition Raymond. You are absolutely right, I find that just the thought of doing something out of my comfort zone is so much worse than actually doing it and once I get past the initial fear and initial discomfort, I actually enjoy whatever it may be. I find It also helps to try to be more open-minded about things which can be difficult. But it’s amazing when you are, what actually can transform in your life. Just look at Jill’s story. What an inspiration!

  14. My heart is longing to do this again. I used to live in California and actually had my daughter there. I was forced home by my ex hubby sadly. We split less than 3 years later and that was my turning point.
    I’m now with a wonderful man who shares my want to live overseas. It’s not so straight forward now that my daughter is older with regards to her education and also I would be forcing her to leave her father behind. This is a dream we’re planning for retirement instead.

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