O.K. We don’t like to hear this, but it’s true! Growth happens outside of our comfort zone.

If you want to experience personal growth, any growth, but particularly massive growth, you’re going to have to get out of your comfort zone. You can’t grow while you stay within your comfort zone.

Hint: They call it “comfort zone” for a reason! Makes you think of a big pillow, a warm blanket, and a mug of hot chocolate.

When you’re in your comfort zone, you’re comfortable. You may not be happy, but you’re not going to be totally miserable. And you’re static. There is nothing to challenge you or push you. Things are rolling along as normal, and you’re caught in the normal day-to-day flow of life.

This is a fine state of affairs if you’re happy with life, but what if you’re not? What if you want to grow and change and find a better way to live?

In the latter case, staying in your comfort zone means stagnation. It means life passing you by until one day you wake up to find yourself too old to live the life of your dreams and you wonder what happened. If you don’t want this to be you, you need to step outside your comfort zone.

Discomfort isn’t pleasant, but it’s where growth happens. Your brain and body have to respond to challenges (discomfort) and this catalyzes new growth and development. You can cause personal development and deliberately change your mindset by challenging yourself. The bigger the challenge, the bigger the response, and the more personal growth that happens.

That doesn’t mean you should schedule skydiving lessons for next weekend, however! Going too big too fast can also backfire on you. This is particularly the case if you’ve stayed in your comfort zone for a long time. Start small. Take a new route to or from work every day for a week. Try a new restaurant. Shop in an unfamiliar store.

Next, make a list of experiences you would like to have and things you would like to do. Start marking them off. Plan these things, commit time and money to them, and even tell other people you’re going to do them so you’re less likely to back out. Start planning for the biggest thing on your list.

Mark had always dreamed of rafting through the Grand Canyon.  So one day, he decided to stop just dreaming, and start doing.

First, he planned the trip. He booked it for a couple of years away. So it was on his calendar and his deposit was paid, He was cammitted. In 24 months, he was going to be floating down the Colorado River.

That was a big, scary challenge. Certainly those “what have I done?!!” voices started. Yet he was committed.

What next? Mark scheduled rafting lessons. He went on local day trips. Then short camping trips. When the time came, he was ready.

You can do this no matter what the goal. Think about some big dreams you have for your internet or writing business. Then commit to them – maybe by telling others. Then plan for a year or two ahead. And begin the preparations you need to do to make this happen.

Step outside your comfort zone, challenge yourself, and change your life!