get out of your comfort zone

How to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone & Live Fully!

I started traveling in Europe with my family when I was a kid. We went to Italy, France, and Spain for summer vacations. Later, as a teenager, I started backpacking to Asia and eventually turned that into my profession. I became a professional traveler or something like a ‘challenge seeker’.

“What’s that?” you may be thinking. Basically, I took on adventurous challenges and stepped out of my comfort zone, filming these cross-border trips and publishing books and TV shows about them.

Here’s my top list of challenges I’ve faced:

  1. How to Travel the World for Free – from Berlin to Antarctica without a penny in my pocket.
  2. How to Barter for Paradise – Barter an apple for a house in Hawaii in 42 steps.
  3. 50 States of Wigge – 50 states, 50 days, 50 challenges
  4. Germany by Scooter – 2000 miles on a kids scooter across Germany in 80 days.

These types of challenges taught me a lot about self-motivation, goal setting, embracing change, resilience, and overcoming fears by stepping out of my comfort zone over and over again.

It was the best exercise in building self-confidence and becoming a person who no longer constantly struggles with fear of loneliness, fear of failure, fear of rejection, and many other fears.

3 steps for YOU to get out of your comfort zone and live fully!

1. Write down specific fears and boundaries that you experience in your life

This can be travel related, but it can also be part of your daily life. Many of my coaching clients share with me their fear of public speaking, fear of flying, fear of heights, fear of approaching people, and more. Feel free to put all of these fears on a list, even the ones that may be subtle.

2. Get a challenge journal

This will be your journal where you write down your experiences, thoughts and feelings when you step out of your comfort zone. This journal can also include a calendar for the year ahead with the monthly challenges you plan to face. It will hold you accountable at times when other priorities may enter your life.

3. Start your first challenge and scale your feelings

Let’s say you feel challenged to travel alone. This would be a great weekend challenge. You can start on Friday and travel by Sunday. It is good to note in your journal how you are already feeling on the Wednesday and Thursday before.

Is there any hesitation or subtle anxiety coming up? If so, it’s helpful to scale those feelings from 1 to 10. One is very low and 10 would be something like a panic attack, which would be out of the learning zone, already in your panic zone. Let’s say you experience a four and later a six, that would be perfect to practice and push your limits. Emotions have the incredible power to tell us to go back to our comfort zone and stop exercising.

Therefore, your scaling will help you visualize fear, so you don’t get carried away by it. With the understanding that emotions always come and go, you can see the level six clearly and basically just wait for it to go down a level to a lower number. Writing down your thoughts and feelings in your journal will greatly assist you in this process.

When I started How to Travel the World for Free, I remember leaving Berlin and feeling an existential anxiety of at least an eight. That level of anxiety pushed me to go back home and not make the trip. But I got a handle on it by getting out my journal, writing, and scaling. Two weeks into the world trip, when I crossed the Atlantic to Canada on a cargo ship, all the hesitation and fear was already gone! I broke through it.

Incorporate Challenges into Daily Life

After doing my challenge adventures, I started incorporating challenges that took me out of my comfort zone into my daily life. Here are a few examples:

  • 2012 – I spent Christmas alone on purpose to overcome the fear of being alone.
  • 2014 – I moved from Germany to the US and started my coaching business.
  • A new life and a new business in a new country was an intense comfort zone leaving experience for at least three years
  • 2020 – The pandemic forced me to continue working on my loneliness challenge in spring 2020

I find my life embedded in an endless chain of challenges incredibly interesting that way. Challenges always increase motivation because they make life goal-oriented.

After writing this blog, this afternoon I plan to head to a 400-meter track down here in central Colorado to run a 1000-meter race for the first time in 25 years. The new challenge: train hard to get as close to 3:00 minutes as possible on the 1000-meter distance in 2021. I can’t wait to take on this challenge and break the barrier of wanting to stay in my comfort zone.

What are your challenges for 2021? I am happy to hear your ideas! Leave me a comment below.

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Article Author

Michael Wigge

Michael Wigge

Award-winning motivational conference speaker, Michael Wigge, specializes in documenting incredible stories about achieving victory over challenges. How to Travel the World for Free, How to Barter for Paradise (where he turned an apple into a Hawaiian dream home through his skills in bartering for bigger, better things), and How to Travel Europe Blindfolded are just three of his seven travel shows. He recently shared his amazing success stories on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (alongside co-guest Katy Perry) and also on the Today show. His TV programs and books have been broadcast and published internationally. Based on his incredible experiences overcoming challenges, Wigge began performing motivational speaking engagements in the US and in Germany and started CMW Coaching & Speaking. His most successful corporate keynotes are Challenge-4-Change Leadership Success and Challenge-4-Change Sales Success. He currently delivers presentations in the corporate arena, on college campuses, and for private clients. Wigge’s corporate seminars support employees and leadership toward improving their motivation, stress management, time management, change management and resilience.
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