The Biggest Benefit to Challenging Your Comfort Zone


You’d be surprised by what amazing opportunities can come from stepping outside of your comfort zone. I’m not talking about anything super drastic like traveling the world with little money or plans. Although that, too, has already rewarded me tenfold and I am extremely grateful I took this step.

What I’m talking about is doing little things outside of your comfort zone. Like trying new foods, taking salsa classes, or asking for a raise. As a personal anecdote, I’ve never been great at starting conversations. I much prefer others to take that first step which allows me to warm up during the conversation. As a result, I often don't introduce myself to others. And I’ve regretted not taking that first step with random strangers because I missed out on potential friendships and opportunities. But a few days ago, I decided to end the cycle of wondering “what if?” And boy, am I happy I did.


I was walking around Suita, a suburb of Osaka, Japan, one beautiful Tuesday afternoon when I happened upon a large park, and decided to explore. While walking around the grounds I passed by many sports fields: tennis courts galore, futsal fields, indoor facilities, and ultimately a turf soccer field. On the field was a large group of students playing a full-sized soccer game. For those of you who know me, you know I’m a huge soccer fan, and my body gets withdrawals from not playing enough. I guess there could be more dangerous withdrawals, so I’m not complaining.


As my body yearned to sprint, pass, and shoot the soccer ball, I couldn’t ignore its urges. So I hopped the fence excitedly, hoping to, at the very least, watch the match. Note: I’m not encouraging trespassing, but it would have taken an extra five minutes to walk around the fence to get to the field, and I didn’t have the patience.


I sat down on a bench near the field and watched the game for a few minutes, as I did not expect any of the students to ask me to play. But soon, the urge to play became so strong that I decided to break out of my comfort zone and approach the players. As I nervously approached a group sitting on the sidelines, I rehearsed what I would say and in very broken Japanese asked if any of them spoke English. It turns out that one of them did speak a little! Whew. So I managed to communicate that I play soccer, and was wondering if I could join their game. He explained that they were playing in a university rec league, but it was pretty informal. So he handed me a bib, and sent me onto the field!


I worked my butt off, trying to prove that I was a worthy teammate, and created a few opportunities in the first half. We were down 2-0 at halftime, but our team reconvened on the sidelines smiling and laughing. When one of the players asked my name and I replied with, “Tom Kruse desu,” they ERUPTED.


“OHHHHHHHH Tomo Kruseeeee!!” one of them shouted.

Many laughed and slapped me on the back.

Another replied with, “Mission Impossible! Score a goal!!!”


Turns out my name was an instant icebreaker, and we all quickly became friends. I wish I could say that here is where our team clicked, the chemistry flowed, and I showed off my Messi-like skills while scoring a hat trick. But alas, my life is not Disney. We got our butts handed to us, 5-0. However, I walked off the field with a huge smile on my face, as did my new friends. We took a picture together, laughing, exchanging hi-fives and muttering “Otsukare sama deshita,” which is loosely translated to, “I feel your tiredness.”

By challenging my comfort zone, I ended up creating a memory that will last forever. An added benefit is that I have become less afraid of approaching others. I demonstrated this over the next two days, as I ended up playing on three more soccer teams. These games ended up much better, and I even put a few balls in the back of the net.

The moral of the story is this: Challenge your comfort zone. We often find ourselves imagining the worst-case scenario. This negative self-talk leads to paralysis and indecision, which leads us to miss out on incredible opportunities. If I didn’t suck it up and ask to play soccer, I would have continued on, never realizing the full potential of that day. And because I took that first step outside of my comfort zone, each subsequent step became easier and easier.


We all have fears and reservations. But more often than not, our imagination is 100x worse than the actual outcome. Sit down and ask yourself, "What's the worst that could happen if I go outside of my comfort zone?" Truly think hard about this. Let your imagination take hold and create a concrete worst-case scenario; then write it down. After this, ask yourself a follow up question: "Are there steps I could take to repair this worst-case scenario" Odds are the answer is yes, and the consequences could be reversed with minimal effort. And that's the worst case scenario


The good news lies in the best case, no...not even the best case. The good news lies in the most probable scenario, which is this: the outcome from challenging our comfort zones ends up being more incredible than we could have ever hoped. If you face that fear, you may just learn something new, or discover a hidden passion,  or meet the love of your life, or simply create a lasting memory. And to do this, you just have to take that first step.




I would love to hear stories about when you successfully (or unsuccessfully) challenged your comfort zone, so please comment and share!

One Response to “The Biggest Benefit to Challenging Your Comfort Zone”

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This is just a mindset I’ve been rolling with for about a year and a half, but you should always be confident in yourself. I know this has been repeated to us our whole life but there’s always something to learn from failure. So even if it looks like you might fail, you should still be confident you’ll learn something and better yourself for trying.

Just, you know… use good judgement. Because it’s kind of hard to learn things if you’re dead. haha

Anyway love the blogs, brother. Can’t wait to hear about your next adventure 🙂

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