Whether it’s moving from one coast to another with a carload and an anxious cat, or trying something new on a smaller scale, leaving your comfort zone can be a great way to prove to yourself you’re capable.
There's nothing like moving 3,000 away from the home and the support system you've known your entire life. I didn't just step out of my comfort zone – I flew out.
Seven months ago, my boyfriend and I moved from Rhode Island, the tiny, Northeast state we called home for nearly our entire lives, to Los Angeles, California. I was under no illusion that it would be an easy move, but I had no idea where to begin. Packing up thirty-two years' worth of personal items – and in my case, tons of kitchen gear – seemed incredibly daunting, but we had to make cuts to determine what things would make the trek with us in an 11-year old Honda Accord across the country. I started small and broke the move down into steps (OK, I may or may not have Googled "How to move across the country" and read a bunch of blogs).
Step one: I began going through my two-bedroom condo drawer-by-drawer to separate out items to give away or donate, sell, or trash. The rest, I packed up for the ride or to go live with my parents, who, fingers-crossed, don't have plans to downsize anytime soon.
Step two: I obsessed about the best way to travel with a cat. Would driving and frequent stops be the best way, or would he howl in terror for days on end? Would flying be more painless? What if he gets motion sick … can cats even get motion sick?! After driving across the country sans cat with a packed car for a week in July, I returned to Rhode Island and then flew overnight – per the vet's recommendation – with a sedated kitty directly from Boston to L.A. alongside with my best friend; my "support human" for the journey.
Step three: I spent the first few weeks unpacking our new apartment, shopping for necessities, and assembling Ikea furniture. Not to brag, but I'm now a pro with an Allen wrench.
Suddenly, all the physical work of the move was done. I was working during the day, but idle in the evenings. I didn't have familiar spots in which to spend time; I didn't live near my friends anymore; and heck, I didn't even know how to find the nearest convenience store. I started to worry if I had put off the real work of stepping outside my comfort zone by burying it under items on my to-do list.
What I Learned
My takeaway seven months out? Making a physical move is of course not the only way to leave your comfort zone. Trying something new can be just as effective, as long as you give it a genuine try.
Being comfortable with the effort you put in and not judging your own attempt based on the progress of others is important, but above all, be kind to yourself in the process! If you feel uncomfortable, it means you’re succeeding.
I won’t say I have it all figured out. We have a few neighborhood spots we enjoy; I have a gym routine and a couple of people to call for a happy hour beverage when needed. For now, I’m counting it as a win.