My comfort zone isn’t all that comfortable. I’ve built myself a safe little world that is feeling too small. My comfort zone is decidedly uncomfortable, it’s cramping my style!

No one did this to me. I did it to myself. I am having experiences with predictable results and I’ve stopped growing much. This is comfortable in a way. I do the things I like, I do what I know but there is the point where that gets a bit old and dull.

Sometimes you need to try things you might not like and that may not pay off.  The experiences you don’t like can teach you just as much as the ones you do like.

There have been times in my life when I have taken big risks and have been both thrilled and fearful, it was a wild little ride at times. These weren’t life-threatening risks generally but they were enough to push me.

Going to my first salsa class was terrifying and dancing socially was pretty scary for at least the first year. Then it got easier, it became an addiction, it was the “meaning of life” (my friends and I were only “sort of” joking about that).

Ten years later salsa is a bit old to me. I still like it every now and then but I’m after a different sort of thrill. I want more depth. It’s also possible that the thrill has gone partly because the fear has gone. Maybe those moments of daring are necessary for us to feel truly alive.

I felt that combination of thrill and fear when I sang at my first songwriters’ nights (barely able to play the guitar), when I read my writing aloud in class, when I moved to Melbourne on a whim (who knows why), when I auditioned for acting school, when I performed each play, when I hit submit on my first blog post, when I boarded a plane for a three-month solo trip of South America and when I took a class in trapeze.

I’m seeing a pattern here. Many of my risks have been creative ones. Those are the things I really want, even if they’re terrifying. They’re not bungee jumping (which I have no wish to try) but to some people singing your own songs publicly would be more terrifying than bungee jumping and about as appealing as eating a live bug.

Consider these questions for yourself:

  • What do you really want to try even if it’s terrifying?
  • What’s worth the risk of failure and success?
  • What’s worth looking silly for?
  • What little risks can you take to go after it?

When I first started dancing, I felt (and was) awkward and incredibly bad at it but I loved it anyway. It was worth looking and feeling stupid, every bit of it.

Take a daily risk

Martha Beck suggests taking a daily risk and then rewarding yourself with a treat afterwards. Tiny risks count, just do something towards a dream that you’re at least a little bit nervous about.

I’ve been doing this for only a few days. Tiny risks, and yet, they add up. I’m making a little progress. And, it turns out that the risks often feel rewarding in themselves. I’m forgetting to do the treats.

Living just at the edge of your comfort zone might be the sweet spot. It’s where colours come alive, food tastes great, it’s where you laugh and cry.

Ok, where can I learn to walk a tightrope? Could I please start just above the ground? Start there, just above the ground, if necessary. Expand your world.