“Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.”

~ Ashley Greene

Life is just one big learning curve, wouldn’t you agree? Some of the lessons are easy, and others push us outside our comfort zone, but those are the ones that allow us to change and grow… to strengthen.

When change and growth becomes too overwhelming it’s tempting to step back into our comfort zone, where everything is easier and less stressful, but where’s the opportunity in that? When things get hard, don’t retreat, instead keep stretching yourself just enough to feel the challenge without the fear.

For ideas on how to get comfortable with the discomfort of change, watch the video below, or read the transcript that follows…then #DTFW on those goals of yours.

This week I’ve been shifting gears from presentation prep and delivery, to the development of my new online program based on my new book. It’s coming this fall so I’ve got to get to work. I’ve never built an online program before, and as a result, I often hear my inner critic sharing her unsolicited advice with me about the whole process. Are you sure you’re doing this right? Who even wants a program about getting energized for success? This is hard, why don’t you work on something else for awhile. What if no one signs up? Blah blah BLAH! Sometimes I wish my inner critic would mind her own business.

Hey, Michelle Cederberg here, pondering my comfort zone, the damn inner critic who protects it, and what it means to reach beyond it.

If you’ve spent any time letting your inner critic talk you out of doing something you really want for yourself, you understand that just because we want it doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. In fact, quite often we resist doing the things that will bring us success, and here’s why.

To drive your success to higher levels, you need to move beyond your comfort zone and learn new skills, or try new things, or set bigger goals, all of which can feel uncomfortable. BUT, that discomfort is exactly what you need if you want to grow your business, your health, your success. If you want to be better, you have to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.

There’s a limit, however, to how much stretching is helpful. I’ll explain that in a moment, but first, let’s talk about that darn Comfort Zone. Its name suggests that it’s a good place to hang out, like a cozy lounge full of comfy chairs, but don’t be deceived. Typically, the only thing comfortable about your comfort zone is the familiarity you have with it.

We each design our comfort zone based on our beliefs, experiences and capacity, and your inner critic has a hand in the design as well. Tough things may be going on in your life, but your inner critic will remind you that you’re familiar with them, “You don’t need to change. It’s better the devil you know!”

Your inner critic likes your comfort zone just as it is, so every time you reach outside of it toward new possibilities, their voice will get louder and try to talk you out of making changes. If you listen to the voice long enough, the comfort zone will feel stable and secure, sure… but you’ll also begin to feel bored, unchallenged and a bit stuck. Ain’t nothing big happening from that place.

If you want growth in your life, you have to move outside that comfort zone. It’s where all the good stuff happens. The key is to know how far to reach, and it’s not a case of go big, or go home.

If you reach too far beyond your comfort zone, you’ll extend into what is called the Panic Zone, where you’ll be so far from the familiar, and so overwhelmed with steep learning curves that you’ll quickly get stressed, anxious and tired. You’ll be fearful, tense and disinclined. You won’t need to spend much time in that space before you retreat to the underwhelming safety of your comfort zone once again.

To avoid what I call Panic Retreat, you want to stretch, but not break. Just beyond the Comfort Zone is the Stretch Zone. Here, you still feel that change is in the air, but you’re more likely to feel excited, challenged, and willing to take the risk. If you spend time stretching in this way, you’re less likely to feel completely overwhelmed, you’ll gain new skills and confidence in a non-threatening environment, and you’ll position yourself for your next growth-inspired stretch.

Case in point, last October, just after I released my book, I decided I should create an online program related to the book, and I also wanted to create a free mini-program to help promote the online program, and I was seeking out podcasts that I could be guest on, all while continuing to promote my book via the usual channels. Needless to say, I jumped straight from my Comfort Zone into the Panic Zone, and neither of my programs got off the ground in any significant way.

When I got the nerve to try again, I stretched myself by first creating my free 6 Day Work-Life Reset, which launched last month. That mini program took me several months to get just right, so I didn’t need the overwhelm of trying to do too much at once. Now it’s done, and I can begin my next stretch to create my online program, and I feel excited about that… not stressed and anxious.

How about you? Do you have any goals that got side-lined by panic reaching? Reconnect with those goals and make a plan to stretch but not break. Feel the exhilaration (not the fear) and do the freakin’ work.

Don’t forget to sign up for my FREE 6 Day Work-Life Reset, and connect with my via your favourite social channels below.

Until next time, I’m Michelle Cederberg, reminding you we’ve got one chance to so this life, I say Dare to Live It Big, and dare to embrace a little non-panicky, stretchy discomfort now and then… in the name of growth.

Connect with me to chat about engaging virtual (or dare I say in-person) sessions for your team to boost resilience, manage stress and drive success, for post-pandemic productivity. And check out my virtual speaker demo here.

To purchase your copy of The Success-Energy Equation: How to Regain Focus, Recharge Your Life, and Really Get Sh!t Done visit Amazon, or for a signed copy go to successenergybook.com. OR, contact me about bulk order discounts for your whole team! It’s also available as an audiobook wherever you download!

Stay tuned for my new ONLINE Refocus & Recharge program using this book as your guide!


Michelle Cederberg, CSP, MKin, BA Psyc

Empowering today’s dreamers, leaders and go-getters to create the life and career they want.