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5 Lessons from 5 Months Outside My Comfort Zone

July 31, 2019

5 Lessons from 5 Months Outside My Comfort Zone

The concept of travelling for five months generates dreamy connotations for many but for someone who thrives off stability and routine, I was all kinds of anxious. 

I’ve met so many people who have adapted to the nomadic lifestyle and they love it. Meanwhile, I’m ready to go home. And it’s not because I don’t like travelling and exploring new corners of the world—I do—I’m just ready to return to my comfort zone after five months of living outside it. 

I should probably clarify. This wasn’t a traditional insta-worthy, adrenaline-fuelled #bucketlistgoals kind of adventure. 

I mean, it’s not like I didn’t have those pinch-me travel moments—I did and they will be moments I’ll cherish forever—but at its core, this journey was less about capturing footage for the gram and more about working on myself. It was about peeling away the inauthentic layers, looking at myself in the mirror and being blatantly honest with what it was I saw and who I wanted to be. 


This is what I learned outside my comfort zone:

What you don’t like about another person can sometimes be what you don’t like about yourself.

This was a glass shattering kind of realisation that snapped me out of a long period of internal aggravation. 

The next time you find yourself agitated about the personal habits or personality traits of someone close to you, do an honest check in with yourself and figure out if it’s a habit or trait you’re guilty of too. 

For me, being around loved ones who were close-minded deeply frustrated me. After a lot of furious journalling, I realised that I was being close-minded too because I wasn’t accepting their version of the truth and their beliefs, which everyone is entitled to have.

It can be difficult to call yourself out and accept that the source of frustration was coming from within, but noticing these blind spots can be a catalyst for positive change and personal growth. 

It’s okay to do nothing

There’s this pressure when you travel. At least, I felt it at the beginning of our trip. 

Even though we were working during the week, I felt this intense pressure to pack our weekends with exciting adventures and new experiences. 

I mean, what was I going to say when people would ask me… 
How was your trip? What did you do?

I literally panicked at the thought of having nothing “interesting” or “exciting” to share. 

Thankfully, this thought pattern eventually dissipated but for a while, I was embarrassed to admit that this trip wasn’t going to be adventure-focused. I was embarrassed to admit that I didn’t want to stay up late just because we were overseas. I was embarrassed to admit that I wanted the extra downtime to work through unhelpful thought patterns that have been inhibiting my growth—to understand myself on a deeper, spiritual level—to just be. 

So whenever you feel this social-media-fuelled pressure to always be doing, know that it’s okay to do nothing and own it. 

Meditation is therapy

Have you tapped into the world of unguided meditations? 

It’s a game changer. Not an exaggeration. 

Prior to dipping my toe into this new world, I was doing guided meditations every morning and to be honest with you, it felt like a chore. 

I did it because it was a daily reminder to slow down and embrace the concept of stillness (which my Type A brain desperately needs). It was only after listening to a podcast with Naval Ravikant who happens to be a big advocate of unguided meditations that I decided to give it a go myself. 

At the risk of sounding a little woo-woo, it felt like I was inhaling fresh air after being trapped in a stale environment for so long. I felt mentally cleansed and more connected with myself. 

I listened to the thoughts that surfaced and felt them dissipate as I addressed them one by one. 

It’s like counselling yourself—giving yourself the time and space to process what needs to be processed. You might actually solve a few dilemmas in the process. 

Guided meditations will generally encourage you to focus on your breathing. The goal is to always bring your attention back to the breath whenever you find yourself distracted by thoughts. 

There’s definitely enormous value in this type of mediation, especially when it’s for calming purposes, but if you’re searching for answers—if you’re wanting to connect to your higher self, try a silent, unguided meditation. 

Learning = fulfilment 

It all started with a feeling of inadequacy that compounded over a few weeks and I couldn’t figure out the source. I felt like my digital marketing experience was slowly fading and I didn’t have much to offer the world. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough—like I wasn’t contributing anything of value. Yep, these were some of the low-level thoughts bubbling to the surface. 

It was on a flight to Bali that I realised it’s been a few months since I learned something new or picked up a new skill and this was contributing to my lack of fulfillment which was masked as feelings of inadequacy.  

Let me explain...

I feel fulfilled when I’m able to share my knowledge with others and add value to other people’s lives, but I felt like my tank was empty and I had nothing valuable or new to give.

Now that I know learning = fulfillment, I can be more deliberate and intentional with how I spend my time.  

The next time feelings of inadequacy surface, dig a little deeper to find the source. You might be surprised at what you uncover. 

Micro goals can be a source of suffering 

Having a lot of micro goals can generate monumental expectations and pressure which can ultimately become a source of suffering when those expectations aren’t met. 

For example, before we left for our trip in March, I set all these micro goals around the number books I wanted to read to completion, podcasts I wanted to listen to, number of blog posts I wanted to write, the list goes on.

Whenever I thought about these mini goals, I would feel anxious because I hadn’t done what I thought I was going to be able to do. It also made me less grateful for all the larger things I had accomplished in that time. 

I’m a huge advocate of setting goals—just don’t get carried away and underestimate your energy investment for each goal you set. 

Self-reflection is such a powerful exercise that you can do at any time of the day. It’s where epiphanies, lessons and new levels of awareness are born and it’s through these epiphanies, lessons and elevated awareness that we can improve our wellbeing and overall quality of life. Give it a go. It’s free!