Why Doing Something Outside of Your Comfort Zone Could Be the Best Decision You Ever Made

Don't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. It could be the best decision you ever made...
Doing something outside of your comfort zone is enough to put the fear of god into most of us.

Wouldn’t it be easier if we had a crystal ball that could tell us whether doing something that scares us – something that we’re not sure is the right decision to make – is the right decision to make?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately not only because 18 months ago I made a life-changing decision (to leave my secure full time job of 11 years and go freelance), but also because I’m thinking of making another life-changing decision this year. The decision itself isn’t of any great importance to this post, but what is is the fact that I’m worried about it and procrastinating.

Worried about failing. About it all going tits up. And then what will I do?

I have to keep reminding myself of this:

“Catherine, you’ve done this before. You went freelance after previously saying that your full time job was probably going to be the last job you’d ever have. Despite you liking the security and the regular hours of a 9-5 and its comfort factor. Despite you not being able to see how you could earn enough to live on and pay the mortgage if you gave your job up.

You did something spectacular and followed your dream. A year and half later you’re loving what you do and you’re doing what you love – despite the late nights and the working at weekends – and to top it all you’re making a reasonably okay wage out of it”.

I know all this is true, but it doesn’t stop me thinking that my next big dream is probably much more impossible. I have the “I’ve no idea how I can pull this off” doubts going round my head. In this post I am urging myself – yes, that’s YOU [me] – to read this and remember what’s possible if you can only step outside your comfort zone, because you never know what might happen.

Work outfits/hairstyles from the past
These photos of me at my old job aren’t really relevant to this post but I thought I’d show my various hairstyles and outfits at my place of work over the years. I wasn’t necessarily smiling on the inside.

Ever heard any of these quotes?





The best example I can give of a successful step taken outside a comfort zone (that bears some relation to popular culture that I know to be true) is one I ‘witnessed’ first-hand (watched on TV in other words) in 2010. I’m hoping that no matter what your age you’ve heard of One Direction…? This is a brilliant example of it sort of working out okay for the person involved.

In the X-Factor auditions in 2010 there was a 17 year old boy called Zayn going through the bootcamp stages. In that year (I’ve pretty much watched every series), for some strange reason the contestants had to practice and perform a choreographed group dance on the stage. (Yes, it’s a singing competition and no, I’ve no idea why they had to dance.)

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I remember really clearly watching the dance section and Simon Cowell scooting off backstage to find Zayn because he’d gone AWOL – dancing was not for him. (I felt so sorry for him because he was so young and sweet and had very little confidence in himself.) He refused to take part in the group dance section and tried to sit it out, saying he seriously didn’t want to do it because he hated dancing. He said he’d never done it before and felt “like an idiot”. Admittedly the lad was only 17 at the time, so he lacked the confidence of a 30 or 40 year old who might just say “oh what the hell I’ll do it”. Basically he didn’t want to make a fool of himself.

Simon Cowell went and found him backstage:

S: “Zayn – why aren’t you out there?”

Z: “I can’t dance.”

S: “You can’t just bottle it.”

Z: “But it’s a new experience for me, I’ve never danced before.”

S: “Zayn – you can’t just hide behind here. You’re ruining this for yourself. I’m trying to help you here. So if you can’t do it now you’re never going to be able to do it. Right? Come on – let’s go and do it.”

You can watch the video of that section right here:


What if he hadn’t? What if he hadn’t been able to put aside his embarrassment for one afternoon and totally bottled it – and maybe gone home? What would he be doing right now, nearly five years later?

I’ll interject here and say this: If you’re thinking about making a potentially life-changing decision, think about Zayn at bootcamp. He could have thought, nahhh I don’t like dancing, this isn’t for me. I’ll go home. I’m too embarrassed / scared / frightened of failing. If that’s the sort of thing you’re thinking about your big plan, imagine it this way:

What Simon Cowell effectively said to him was “Look Zayn, if you go out there and dance your socks off for 10 minutes, I can guarantee you that in a couple of years’ time you’ll be in the biggest pop band in the world with girls screaming your name as you all perform in massive stadiums and sell millions of records and become the second-wealthiest musicians in the UK under 30″. Put like that, I reckon he’d have leapt up from that chair without a moment’s hesitation and, indeed, danced his backside off, never mind his socks, thank you very much.

Imagine if you had a Simon Cowell of your own (sorry if that’s an unpleasant thought – bear with me) who could say the same sort of thing to you about the decision you’re trying to make. In other words, Simon just comes along, cuts straight to the chase and tells you the ending first.

What you have to do is imagine your own ending. Think to yourself that if only you could, for a few hours, or a few days, or a few months or years maybe, do that cringeworthy / embarrasing / frightening / uncomfortable / scary / unpleasant thing that you don’t want to do – what would your reward – your ending – be?

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It seems so simple… “I might as well just give it a go.” He said nonchalantly.

He did of course eventually go out and do it (the dancing wasn’t amazing but he certainly didn’t suck) – he went on to be chosen for a new group formed out of the boys, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Could there be a more OMG-you’re-telling-me-he-nearly-didn’t get-into-the-world’s-biggest-boy-band-because-he-didn’t want-to-do-a-bit-of-dancing moment than that? I rest my case.

The mere fact that you’re afraid to make a radical change in your life means that you’re thinking about it carefully – you’re already taking steps to avoid making a rash decision. It can only be a rash decision if you rush into it without thinking it through. Your hesitation and thought processes that go with it will see you carry it out effectively, no matter what the outcome.

Don’t miss the opportunity to be part of your version of the world’s biggest boy band. It may just turn out to be the best decision you ever made.

Now, where’s that estate agent’s phone number…?



  1. 17 February 2015 / 10:27 pm

    Fortune favours the Brave! Be Brave and go for it!

  2. 17 February 2015 / 7:43 pm

    Ah…you are so driven. So much ambition. Don't let anyone stop you girl. Especially not your own mind. Fear is your worst adviser. People who don't have any fear (for instance they don't have to worry about their daily bread anymore) are often very successful in what they undertake.
    Go for it.

    • 18 February 2015 / 1:17 pm

      Greetje you should be a motivational speaker (are you)?!!! Thank you so much. It's not that I fear change (I've been married twice and got really excited about changing my name) – my problem is the "how on earth is this going to work" when I can't see a way it can happen. Yet I KNOW that when you finally get round to researching something it's often not as difficult as you think.

      I always appreciate your comments so much… they mean soooo much to me. Thank you xx

  3. 17 February 2015 / 1:16 pm

    And a boy from One Direction just made me get a little tear in the eye…yikes! Simon is just eerie, he knows all, the Svengali! He knew he was the one the girls would go nuts for, I swear! It's a lesson that we have to learn over and over again I think if we're remotely self-doubting. I feel like I've had it at various moments in my life when I needed it, sometimes we do need a cheerleader in life to push us through the fear, no matter how old we are or how many times we've faced it before. Good luck with your own decision and being brave enough to step outside the comfort zone. It's hard for everyone, me included, but we rarely regret taking chances I think, just being brave enough to try is itself an accomplishment. πŸ™‚

    • 18 February 2015 / 1:14 pm

      Having always remembered that part of X Factor I always thought that Simon DID have a feeling about Zayn and the others – I reckon he knew exactly what he wanted to do with them long before it appeared that he'd decided to make a new band out of those five. I also remember him saying at judge's houses to Sinitta that he had a really good feeling about one of the groups (when they were deliberating about who to put through to live shows) – he knew then too!!

      Anyway, I digressed with my talk of 1D…! Thank you Steff – it's so easy to say to others about how they should step outside their comfort zone but so difficult to put it into practice yourself. I've just got to man up as they say, and get on with it. You'd think at my age I'd have learnt that by now, but it doesn't get any easier…!!!!! C x

  4. 14 February 2015 / 6:17 pm

    Bloody love this post Catherine and I wholeheartedly agree with you (loving your Zayn metaphor too-I didn't even know that story)- you're right too, it can be so scary to leave your comfort zone and 'just go for it' and often facing that fear head is often liberating and can open so many doors. You go for it girl, whatever it is and shine.

    I want to add that I've always learnt so much from the mistakes I've made or the projects that didn't work, that I don't fear change or rejection, it doesn't upset me in any way, it hasn't for many years, I simply always go for things I'm passionate about, work hard and hope for the best while preparing for the worst.

    Failure is part of the process, it's vital to it and as cliched as it sounds/reads, it's OK for not things not to work out, it's the journey- keep pushing, talent always prevails and new doors will always open, even from closed ones!

    I never EVER thought I would leave filmmaking to be a blogger but I did and I'm happy. I don't close doors though, I'm always open, never define who you are, be adaptable and embrace what you love. I think that's the key really, just being open to it all. Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts x

    • 15 February 2015 / 8:31 pm

      You're right about learning from mistakes, Vicki. For example, I am so go with money now – to the point that I know how to almost make my money back when shopping that goods practically pay for themselves – but this only after being absolutely dreadful with money in my teens and twenties. I was in so much debt, but it was a lesson well learnt.

      Thank you for such an insightful comment… well said!! Much love to you x

  5. 13 February 2015 / 5:13 am

    Great post, really puts a sense of urgency in what I put off and how fear can keep me from realizing my dreams! Good luck with whatever your venture is and thanks for the push… and btw…. I thought Zayn did a great job dancing imo.

    • 13 February 2015 / 3:30 pm

      Glad you liked it Marjorie… it's been a long time coming (me writing it I mean) – I guess it's also the push I needed to give myself to sort my myself out!!

      And yes you're right, his dancing wasn't bad at all πŸ˜‰

    • 12 February 2015 / 3:40 pm

      Hehe thanks Casey…!! So glad you liked it – good luck with your endeavours, whatever they may be x

  6. 11 February 2015 / 3:45 am

    Great post Catherine. This can relate to so many aspects of our lives. We have to be uncomfortable to achieve new goals.


    Hope to see you Thursday for TBT Fashion link up.

    • 12 February 2015 / 3:37 pm

      Thanks Alice – yes that is great advice about having to be uncomfortable…! So true!!

  7. 10 February 2015 / 9:06 am

    Great post Catherine, I really empathise! The comfort zone is comfy, that's why we like to stay there! I've been pushing myself hard over the last year or two and it's been brilliant. It might be comfy in the comfort zone but it's more exhilarating being out of it!! Best of luck with your next goal – a house move is it? x

    • 10 February 2015 / 12:40 pm

      Great to hear that you've been pushing yourself, Porcelina! I like your analogy of it being more exhilarating outside… you couldn't be more right. And as for your guess – well, let's just say you're pretty warm…!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks hun xx

  8. 10 February 2015 / 6:53 am

    It's true that if you don't try, you can't fail…but you'll certainly have no chance of "success" (whatever that might mean to you) either; right, dearest Catherine?! Starting something new is always scary…and we ALL could benefit from reading – and rereading! – your words of wisdom to remind us that it's a risk worth taking!! XOXO


    • 10 February 2015 / 12:36 pm

      I wrote as much for me as much as I did for everyone else, Monika – I was basically giving myself a telling off for procrastinating!! πŸ˜‰ It's the old thing of it being easy to dish it out but it's always harder to take your own advice, isn't it. But I LIKE change so that's what I have to keep reminding myself…!! Thank you my lovely, and for your words of encouragement too xx

    • 9 February 2015 / 4:59 pm

      Christine that's a great example – starting a blog is a big step to take, especially as it's so much more involved than it ever used to be. That's to say several years ago I think we all just starting blogs without too much thought, but now there's a lot more information available and bloggers are so much more visible now. I can imagine it can be a scary prospect to start one these days.

      But then you'll learn so much quicker than, say, I ever did, and in a much shorter space of time! Swings and roundabouts, as they say.

      Good luck with it – and make sure you follow the number one blogging rule: ENJOY YOURSELF! :))

    • 9 February 2015 / 4:54 pm

      Awww Marlene thank you. So did your comment – much appreciated xx

  9. 9 February 2015 / 12:51 pm

    Ah yes, the good old comfort bubble, I've been cherishing mine for years. Until last year when I had major life transformations and slowly started to step outside of the comfort zone. Ever since then, I've done so many things I wouldn't even think of doing, and I'm still pushing myself and pushing and fuck it. Life is too short to be afraid, too fragile and not so special to be clinged onto! I absolutely agree with you Catherine. Whatever life changes you wish to do, do them and don't look back! πŸ™‚

    • 9 February 2015 / 4:54 pm

      Ohhh I can imagine you're the sort of person who's all for change, Keit! Though you're probably like me – loves an adventure but keeps umming and ahhing about it. I do go through with things eventually, it's just the procrastinating that holds me back. We're in total agreement here about life being too short – you're dead right!! Thanks my lovely for your fabulous comment x

    • 9 February 2015 / 4:51 pm

      Thank you so much Jeanne, I hope it makes people stop and think :))

  10. 9 February 2015 / 6:04 am

    Hi Catherine great post that reminded of myself last year I made the decision to separate from my husband whom I've been married for 21 years I was procrastinating that decision. It's very hard to make a decision like that but sometimes you have to do what is better for you, I'm agree with you that it's very difficult to get out of the comfort zone but you have to do what make you happy.
    Good luck and your new journey β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†

    • 9 February 2015 / 4:51 pm

      I'm sorry to hear that, Ana – but if it made you happy ultimately (because you must have been unhappy before) then of course it would have been the right decision. I hate the fact that it's so hard to imagine what life will be like afterwards, maybe that's why we procrastinate…? Thank you for your great comment, much love to you xx

    • 9 February 2015 / 10:57 pm

      Thank you Catherine for your support.

  11. 8 February 2015 / 3:07 pm

    I love this post. It's a great reminder to us all. Change is good and is what moves us into a positive, new direction, even if it's not the one we originally imaged. Now I'm curious to know what your life-changing decision is. πŸ™‚ Best of success with it!

    • 9 February 2015 / 4:48 pm

      Thanks Jayme – you're right, change IS good! I do like change, but making big life decisions is a lot harder than changing the colour of your hair… and some people find those decisions hard enough!!

  12. 8 February 2015 / 2:57 pm

    Great post, It's those life changing decisions that make us grow, challenge who and what we are, and what we are capable of. Good luck in yours. x

    • 9 February 2015 / 4:47 pm

      That's really lovely of you to say, Lotty – thank you! Very wise words indeed xx

  13. 8 February 2015 / 2:45 pm

    Great post, and yes, it's those out-of-comfort-zone moves that ultimately move us ahead. I know you'll be successful with whatever new endeavor you're taking on.

    • 9 February 2015 / 4:47 pm

      Thank you so much, hun… it's always scary but I guess that's why I wrote it – to remind myself I *can* do these things!!

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