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Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone!

Embracing the Thrill

Karen and Jay share thoughts on the important opportunities that await you – when breaking out of your comfort zone.

You’ll never know if you don’t try. But how many of us get stuck in a pattern? We get comfortable where we are.  We find ourselves in a hypnotic rhythm – doing the same things, the same way, over and over again.  Then a thought enters our mind.  Or maybe opportunity presents itself.  Or a difficult situation needs to be confronted.  All of these situations have the potential to take us out of our comfort zone.  And we actually know deep down that we’d be much better off if we seized the opportunity – or addressed the difficult situation. But we don’t.  We’re afraid. We’re trapped in our comfort zone.  We settle for what we’ve got and where we are.  And as result we miss out on the thrilling adventures of life.


The good news is that we have it within our power to break out of our comfort zone.  It’s not easy.  By definition it means ‘doing something that’s uncomfortable.’  But because it is so very clearly worth doing, let me share a few practical approaches that I hope can work for you.


First, I find that setting specific goals outside of your comfort zone is crucial. By defining clear objectives, you can focus your efforts and channel your energy towards meaningful growth.  Real-life examples abound, such as Oprah Winfrey, who, despite facing numerous challenges early in her career, set her sights on becoming a media mogul. Through perseverance and determination, she stepped out of her comfort zone to launch her talk show, ultimately becoming one of the most influential figures in television history.

Second, embracing discomfort and facing fears head-on. Stepping into unfamiliar territory can be intimidating, but it is often where the most significant opportunities for growth lie.  Take, for instance, J.K. Rowling, who overcame rejection and adversity to become one of the world's best-selling authors with the Harry Potter series. Despite facing setbacks, Rowling persisted in pursuing her passion for writing, ultimately breaking out of her comfort zone, and achieving unparalleled success.

Moreover, seeking new experiences and challenging oneself regularly is vital for expanding the comfort zone. This may involve trying new hobbies, learning new skills, or pursuing new career opportunities. A prime example is Elon Musk, whose relentless pursuit of innovation and exploration has led to groundbreaking advancements in multiple industries. Musk continuously pushes the boundaries of his comfort zone, from founding SpaceX to revolutionizing electric vehicles with Tesla, inspiring others to embrace risk and pursue their ambitions.

Additionally, seeking support and surrounding oneself with a supportive network can facilitate the process of breaking out of the comfort zone. Whether through mentorship, coaching, or collaboration with like-minded individuals, having a support system can provide encouragement and guidance during challenging times. For instance, Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Prize laureate, drew strength from her family and community as she advocated for girls' education in Pakistan, despite facing threats and violence from the Taliban.

I know it’s hard but breaking out of the comfort zone is absolutely essential for personal growth and success. By setting goals, embracing discomfort, seeking new experiences, and seeking support, individuals can expand their horizons and realize their full potential. Real-life examples such as Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling, Elon Musk, and Malala Yousafzai demonstrate the transformative power of stepping outside of one's comfort zone and pursuing ambitious goals. As these examples illustrate, the path to greatness often lies beyond the confines of familiarity and security.  So, this week – right now – I urge you to pick a situation where you know that you’d be better off if you were to break out of your own comfort zone – and muster up the courage to ‘go for it’ and break through.

Selling…Often Gets You Out of Your Comfort Zone!

Jon Morton, a Sunshine Initiative colleague writes: "Don’t talk to strangers," you were told while growing up. "Don’t talk about money," or "money doesn’t grow on trees," or many other possible negative things you may have been taught about money. So, when you’re seven years old and you get the chance to sell Christmas cards in the neighborhood, you can’t wait to break all of those rules, right? Ha, not likely. A few closed doors or unfriendly adults telling you to get lost is all it takes to make you realize that sales can be a really tough row to hoe.

Fast forward to ten years old, and you’ve become friends with a farmer with a maple sugar shack. You help him produce maple sugar candy, and he lets you buy it wholesale so you can sell it to fellow school kids and make a little profit. Think about it, selling candy to 5th graders. Not a lot of difficulty in that. Like selling cold water on a hot day. It’s not even sales; it’s simply order taking. Ah, but then again, this new version of stepping out of your comfort zone is handling money, knowing how much candy to bring, knowing how to not get caught by the teacher. What if someone eats too much and gets sick? This is the level of sales where it’s more about responsibility than complexity or anxiety in making a pitch.

Both of these situations taught me valuable lessons I would use later in life when it came to sales. At nineteen, I was selling Encyclopedia Britannica. We had a kiosk at the mall, where the other book peddlers, who were mostly over fifty years old, and I would meet prospective customers. A set of books cost three times as much as my first used car. It was a more affluent crowd I was catering to, and I had to understand the value I was offering and, more importantly, convey that message to my prospects. These weren’t 5th graders with thirty-five cents in their pocket. These were people in the top ten percent or better of income earners.

Most will shy away from sales or perform at an average level at best due to self-imposed comfort zones. There are many reasons why presenting a product or service can be intimidating and then asking for the sale can be akin to public speaking. Most people would rather go skydiving or have a root canal than speak in public. Even person-to-person without an audience, sales can create that level of anxiety.

I’ll admit, while I did sell some encyclopedias, it didn’t seem like a career path, so I joined the Air Force, and it would be years later before my job title resembled sales again. That said, the skills that can lead to success in sales, without the anxiety, can lead to success in many other areas of life.

Don Miguel Ruiz outlined 4 simple rules to follow in his book "The Four Agreements." While so simple in principle, the 5th grader eating his maple leaf-shaped piece of granular yummy flavor can understand it. Yet, in practice, keeping these agreements can be a lifelong pursuit.

  1. Be impeccable with your word. Bad sales people resort to dishonesty. Having integrity is a major advantage in a long-term sales career.

  2. Do not take anything personally. This one keeps most people from ever taking a chance on sales, and themselves for that matter.

  3. Do not make assumptions. I could write a book on this one alone. One of the biggest assumptions people make when thinking about a career in sales is that you need to have a gift of gab or be interesting. Quite the opposite. You have to be a great listener and be interested in other people and what matters to them.

  4. Finally, always do your best. You will make mistakes, your message won’t appeal to everyone, your product or service won’t be the right fit for everyone. You will catch people on the worst day, and they will take it out on you.


However, as long as you always do your best, you will succeed in the long run. It’s when people cut corners, fear failure, give up too easily, and think of themselves over their prospective clients that they fail. 

Simply following the Four Agreements, you will have more than enough confidence to step outside of your comfort zone and into success. Give it a try!

Reaching Across the Aisle!

Reaching out of your comfort zone politically is becoming ever more difficult in modern discourse. It seems that as the battle lines deepen in America, more and more people are unwilling to enter into good-faith discussions with those who likely hold opinions contrary to their own. This is being compounded by the use of social media, but not necessarily for the reasons you might think.

The first reason is obvious; we know that people feel emboldened behind a keyboard. It is much easier to shortchange political dialogue when you do not have to look the other person in the eye. The other reason is more nuanced. Social media is designed to make us want to use it, and it does this by showing us things it thinks we will like, including politics – i.e. by specifically feeding us information that is designed to reinforce and harden our preconceived positions. Because of this, we can quickly enter into an echo chamber, further entrenching our worldviews.

As a former State Representative, I know about reaching outside your political comfort zone. Legislative politics is the art of getting things done, and that often requires working with people from the other side of the aisle and building consensus. Interestingly – and perhaps counter-intuitively, this is easier to do this than you may think, as the problems faced in social media are completely reversed in the State House. There, you have to talk to people who disagree with you (whether you want to or not), and there is no hiding behind a keyboard. You inevitably see people in the hallways or sit beside them as they eat in the cafeteria or wait between hearings. It enables you to see the human side of someone you would otherwise disagree with. An interesting note about the cafeteria, many at the State House will tell you this is where the real discussions and agreements are made!

So, keep this in mind the next time someone says something you disagree with. Try to empathize with them and understand their worldview. It does not mean that they are right, and you are wrong, but the more society acts in good faith to move outside our political comfort zone, the more we will begin to treat each other with respect – and this is so very clearly the path towards making good things happen!

Positive Profile of the Week - Norri Oberlander - Someone Making a Difference!

We are delighted this week to highlight one of the most interesting and engaging people that we know – Norri Oberlander.  Norri immediately came to mind when thinking about who would best exemplify our topic of someone stepping out of their comfort zone.  We’ll get to what she did after she shares her story.

Norri explains, “In 1991, my dad left his corporate engineering life to put his blood, sweat, and tears into creating the legacy of North End Properties, which lives on today through his three daughters and grandchildren. Carrying on her parents' legacy, today she is the President of North End Properties.  I was raised by my New Yorker parents, and my father taught me to be a strong-minded businesswoman, while my mother taught me to be the life of the party. I’m the wife of a businessman, the mother of two amazing kids, and a happy dog owner. I’m an active property owner in downtown Manchester and a proactive landlady for my tenants. I’m passionate about downtown Manchester because Elm Street is the economic engine of Manchester, NH. I was born and raised in New Hampshire, graduating from Manchester West High, and then attended college in New York because my parents raised me with that New York mentality.

In New York, I met my husband and landed my dream job as an event planner, and life was great. But I felt something was missing. I missed the New Hampshire foliage, the friendly New Hampshire atmosphere, and driving without traffic. But most of all, I missed my family and wondered where I would eventually land. I finally realized that neither offers down-to-earth living, the best value in real estate, and a balance of a peaceful country life, along with the option of an urban playground in Manchester. Therefore, I decided to boomerang back to New Hampshire to raise my family, and it's the best decision I ever made.”

In 2017, she was one of the Union Leader’s '40 Under Forty'. She was quoted as saying “I focus the majority of my volunteer efforts in downtown Manchester, because I believe it’s the “spotlight” for all the city!”  Over the years, she has volunteered for 20+ organizations to enhance Downtown Manchester and the City of Manchester overall. 

Norri continues, “Five fun facts about me: I am real, a positive, straight shooter, and I tell it like it is. As a connector, I'm ready to collaborate with other business leaders for positive change. I still learn from others because reinventing the wheel is inefficient. I want to see everyone succeed. Action - I don't just talk about it; I do it. As a landlady, AKA Manchester's concierge, I love the city and want everyone to love every minute of it like I do.”

Last year during Manchester’s mayoral race, she did something that she had never done before and most importantly showed that one person can make a difference!  Not happy with the lack of safety in downtown particularly around one of her properties, the Pembroke Building, she helped form a Political Action Committee that supported candidates who believed in the balance of the protection of property rights and the protection of human rights. What it did was to get a number of the downtown businesses together in a way that hadn’t been done for a while.  And many say that this effort helped to get some new faces elected. So yes, one person can make a difference and Norri – we’re very glad you’re so passionate about Manchester – we’re lucky to have you!  And thank you for ‘breaking out of your comfort zone!’

Positive Quotes of the Week:  Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone

"The biggest rewards in life are found outside your comfort zone." - Tony Robbins


"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." - Neale Donald Walsch


"The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance." - Alan Watts


"Great things never come from comfort zones." - Roy T. Bennett


"Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change." - Jim Rohn


"Comfort is the enemy of achievement." - Farrah Gray



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