Michele Waterman
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Breaking Through Our Comfort Zone

“You can only grow if you feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” ~Brian Tracy

What are you willing to do to stretch your comfort zone? Would you quit your job, attempt to pick up a new language, and then move to a different time zone across the Atlantic? Well, as crazy as that might sound, I did just that.

When I was twenty-four, I moved to Aix-en-Provence in Southern France for a year to study abroad. Until that point, I had spent several years working full time and putting myself through school at night, attending various junior colleges until I transferred to San Jose State to finish my bachelors.

Soon after I began my studies at San Jose State, I discovered that the California State University system had an International Study Abroad Program. To apply, all I needed was good grades, a few letters of recommendation, and I had to meet the foreign language prerequisites. The language requirement had me a little concerned. I took two years of Spanish in high school and didn’t remember much. And although I was really driven to live in Europe for a year, I didn’t have any foreign language college credits to leverage.

But that didn’t stop me. I combed through the international study abroad guide, and sure enough, there was a program for me—Learn French in France—it only required one semester of French. I quickly enrolled in a French class and crammed before every test. After one semester, all I could say was, hi, bye, yes, no, and good. I must admit that I was worried about the thought of living in France knowing I wasn’t able to speak the language.

But that didn’t stop me. I quit my job, took out some student loans, secured my first credit card, packed my bags and a few travel books and I was off to Paris. I didn't know a soul. I had never been to Europe, and yet, I made a conscious decision to move to Southern, France for a year to study at an International language school in Aix-en-Provence, France with a bunch of foreign exchange students from all over the world. How exciting!

As I look back now, I had no idea what the hell I got myself into. Yes, I could write volumes about my adventures in Aix. I traveled all over Europe, made lifelong friendships, and shared amazing experiences that I will always cherish. That is the upside. But I also experienced growing pains that were so profound, I wasn’t sure I would get through them. That’s what happens when you live a life of certainty and then turn your world upside down. I had no idea that leaving everyone and everything that I knew behind to move abroad would be one lesson after another about stretching outside of my comfort zone. I didn’t know that taking risks and dealing with change would be the catalyst for my personal growth.

Today, I push myself outside my comfort zone because I know I will learn and grow from the challenge. Sometimes the fear of failure settles in and I hesitate to try new things or set ambitious goals. Someone once said that fear is the acronym for false evidence appearing real. That’s why I talk to my coach or a friend to figure out what is really in the way, and then I am back on track, ready to embrace the uncertainty that comes as I push past what is comfortable. And when we confront false evidence appearing real, we are able to face everything and rejoice. Here’s to being free from limiting beliefs that prevent us from breaking through our comfort zones.

How do you break through your comfort zone? How does fear get in your way? What do you do to overcome fear?

To learn more about how personal development coaching can help you face your fears and break through your comfort zone, visit www.michelewaterman.com.