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I know, I know… I talk a LOT about comfort zones and how important it is to take a step outside of them occasionally.

Comfort zones are those parts of our lives that are safe, protected, stress-free, and low risk. We are creatures of habit, and habits allow us room to relax and avoid things and situations that are needlessly stressful. Comfort zones can be productive and supportive. But staying inside your comfort zone can be limiting, it can keep you from achieving your full potential and you may never know what you might accomplish if you take that step outside.

Very simply, what we fear most about challenging ourselves is that we may fail and/or get hurt. But most of us have the ability to rise to the occasion, overcome hurdles and obstacles, and succeed in accomplishing something new and challenging.


Here are 5 huge benefits of stepping out of your comfort zone:

  1. Your “real life” is out there waiting for youYour real life exists beyond the bubble of your own personal thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. Your real life is the sum total of ALL of your experiences, not just the ones you’re comfortable with.
  2. Challenging yourself pushes you to dip into and utilize your personal store of untapped knowledge and resourcesYou have no idea what you’re made of unless and until you venture outside of your own familiar world.
  3. Taking risks, regardless of their outcome, are growth experiencesEven if you make mistakes or don’t get it right the first time those become experiences you can tap into in the future. There really is no such thing as “fail” if you get something out of the experience. And just so you know, “FAIL” re-framed means “First Attempt in Learning.”
  4. Don’t settle for the mediocre just to avoid stepping out of your comfort zone; it’s too big a price to payYour challenges and risk experiences are cumulative. Every time you try something new and allow yourself to be open to whatever experience arises, you are learning and expanding your repertoire of life skills and self-knowledge. As you do this you also expand the size of your comfort zone.
  5. Leaving your comfort zone ultimately helps you to deal with change—and make a change in a much better wayLife transitions are all about change. Each time you transition you move to another level. Inevitably, these life transitions transform you.


Now I’m no stranger to stepping outside my comfort zones – I regularly take on challenges that push me to my physical, mental, and emotional limits. But I do like my feet on mother earth.  I’m not comfortable suspended in the air from a bit of rope… But I also live my life with a “no regrets” philosophy…


So, on a fantastic recent family holiday with EXPLORE we found ourselves at Madonie Adventure Park in the mountains of Sicily. It is the Sicilian version of GO APE – a million miles outside my comfort zone! (OH HELP!) The children’s high wire which was just 3 feet off the floor and looked perfect for me. But I wasn’t allowed on it so, with all the right equipment including fancy hair net (!), and after our safety briefing and practice, our effervescent tour leader Sue took us on the first course…

I managed to clip on my safety line (the Sicilian high wire carabiner mechanism is a stroke of genius I have to say) and started my climb to the first platform. All good so far. And then…


Well then… I looked around to see what everyone else was doing. Because that’s what we do isn’t it? Compare ourselves. I watched the rest of the group navigate through a suspended horizontal tunnel and my knees started to shake, my breathing became rapid, and I started to sweat. I couldn’t do that… no way… so down I went, a mixture of overwhelming relief and crushing disappointment that I had “failed”.


Our tour leader Sue found me a few minutes later and asked how I got on… “I bottled it,” I said.

“You’re coming with me,” she said, and she led me encouragingly over to a different high wire, insisting it was easier than the other one. I knew it probably wasn’t, but I liked her so much for trying to convince me!

She led me onto the first platform and explained each step and what I needed to do.


She suggested I slow down when my panic took over and I wanted to run away, she got me to focus on one step at a time, she talked about my colourful Merrell trainers to distract me (they are pretty cool!), and she enveloped me in the warmest hug when I cried. She high-fived me when I completed each section, she told my kids to be proud of their mum and she snapped a selfie when I finally took the last zip wire back to terraferma.


And I had done it! It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t graceful, but I had stepped well outside my comfort zone, and I had grown.


So, the moral of this story?


Don’t look at what everyone else is doing.

Focus on yourself, focus on where you are heading, slow down, take one small step at a time, celebrate the wins, learn from the “failures”, share your experiences, and GROW!


There is freedom waiting for you,

On the breezes of the sky,

And you ask “What if I fall?”

Oh but my darling, what if you fly

Erin Hanson


Huge thanks to Sue Guthrie and the rest of the EXPLORE Family Sicily Multi-Activity Adventure Group 4 for a fabulous experience.





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