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Lifestyle & Travel

Why One Woman Wants to Push You Out of Your Comfort Zone

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Jeannie Sanders spends a great deal of time outside of her comfort zone. It’s there, she feels, she experiences joy and grows the most.

Four years ago, for example, at age 38, she met her soon-to-be husband while skydiving. They married when she was 40; she moved across the country from Florida to Nevada to start a new life with him and his children; and, after two decades of working in sales and HR in corporate America, she went off on her own to start a company called Practice of Positivity Corporation. Through the business, headquartered in Las Vegas, she runs a program called Go Reinvigorate Intrinsic Talents (G.R.I.T.), which aims to push women outside of their comfort zones and help them develop leadership skills through boundary-pushing activities such as skydiving, rappelling, desert hiking, paddle boarding, and more.

Succeeding in those kinds of endeavors, she says, gives people confidence and may even help them reflect on what matters in their lives. “It may make you feel like you can conquer the world. It may make the smaller things in life seem a little bit more trivial and help keep things in perspective,” says Sanders.

Whether you’re checking skydiving off your bucket list or trying something a little less extreme, Sanders believes that getting out of your comfort zone may help open your mind. She shared the following advice on things people can do every day to understand and then push your own limits.

Define your comfort zone. First things first, you have to identify your comfort zone. It’s different for everyone. Some people quake at the idea of public speaking, others are afraid of heights, some get anxious talking to strangers. “You have to ask yourself, ‘What is comfort? What is discomfort?” says Sanders. “And then you start to understand your tolerance.”

Start pushing those boundaries. When you’ve defined your comfort zone, do activities large and small that push the boundaries. Maybe that means joining a public speaking group or taking an improv comedy class. Maybe it means climbing a mountain or bungee jumping. Perhaps it means signing up for a gym membership or taking a new exercise class. Make a list of things you fear and things that make you uncomfortable and then start doing things that challenge those feelings. “To push yourself to the absolute limit and then to be able to look back and say, ‘I cannot believe I did that, that was awesome!’ it just gives you the courage and the strength really to do anything,” says Sanders.

Know what motivates you. Is it a person? A goal? An ideal? Think of the things that really drive you and identify what they are. “Everyone’s motivated by something or someone,” says Sanders. In times of discomfort, you can think about what motivates you and it may help push you to keep trying.

Surround yourself with go-getters. When you see your friends and family members frequently push themselves, it may help you to do so, too. Sanders encourages people to find others who motivate them and look for ways to grow.  “Be intentional with your networking,” she says. She adds that she also encourages people to create a social circle that includes people who are different from them in a number of ways (age, ethnicity, religion, political beliefs). “That way, you’re learning about different people, you’re valuing diversity and differences,” she says.

Don’t fear failure. Failure offers countless lessons, says Sanders. It’s something to embrace, because it means you tried.

While leaving the comfort zone may help you learn, empathize, grow and become more curious, it’s not a place where you must live all the time, says Sanders. “It’s ok to go back to your comfort zone,” she says. In that space, after all, is contentment, familiarity, and rejuvenation. And those are all things that people need, too. 

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