Ditching the comfort zone: Why doing something really, really hard is great for business

- July 6, 2022 4 MIN READ

As business owners, it can feel like you’re so constantly in the thick of it that you operate on autopilot a lot of the time. But it was stepping away from the day-to-day grind and embarking on a huge challenge that helped founder of Partnership Mastery and Marketing to Mums, Katrina McCarter, realise the power of taking a break from your comfort zone.

I thought my friend Kate had mistaken me for someone else when she phoned last December and said she was booking us to do the Larapinta Trail hike – and not just the normal walk, but the hardest six-day trek for people with elite fitness!

But no, she was determined we could do it, us two suburban mothers who had for years concentrated more on the wellbeing of our families than ourselves. We were going to train for six months. We were going to research blister first aid and life without a toilet. And we were going to conquer whatever came.

And, guess what? We did. The Larapinta is a month or two in my rear vision mirror now but it’s always in my head. Not just the incredible Central Australian landscapes and its cursed, endless rocks, but the feeling that nailing a hard challenge gave me.

Yes, I finally discovered my glutes and learned that the first 15 minutes of any hike are the most soul destroying. Better than that, I discovered getting out of my comfort zone physically, emotionally and mentally was great for my soul.

And, surprisingly, great for my business.

woman jumping between two cliffs on mountain top

Ditching the comfort zone

2021 was super hard for a lot of people. My own year was a doozy. The suicide of a family member. The end of my long marriage. Managing the poor mental health of a child. Having to sell the family house.

The only constants were my businesses and by the end of the year, even they needed a reset. Stepping outside my comfort zone gave me the space for that.

Having no phone, no email, no contact with the outside world was the best thing for my work brain. Without daily distractions, I could concentrate on what I really want in this next phase of my career.

Letting go of what I once had, amid the deep peace and authenticity of the outback, gave me confidence the plans I have for the future could work. If I could walk 130kms, I could definitely tackle audacious, wild goals. No limits.

Before I left I had a strong, conscious desire to up-level my personal life because I know from experience that when you do, it flows into everything. Business, connections, health, inspiration, finances, creativity.

I could see the benefit in trusting myself and my ideas. When I do, I either fail and learn from it, or I succeed and learn from it! Either way, it’s a win-win and it can be glorious educational fun.

Brave, strong woman wearing superhero cape and mask

Where the magic happens

Finding I could do hard things created self-confidence that I’ve carried into how I operate in business. I want to stretch all my capabilities all the time, because I know how good it feels.

When we step out of our comfort zone and stretch ourselves, the magic happens. I’ve always believed this, but stepping so far out of what I thought was my sweet spot really doubled down on that.

I’m intrigued by the idea that the more distance between us and that comfort zone, the greater the reward. If you risk more, there’s opportunity for a greater pay off.

Since finding my new mojo on the Larapinta, the answer usually is pretty great. More resilience means seeing obstacles as opportunity and knowing growth comes from facing hard stuff.

My message to anyone who asks is not to languish in that place of comfort, especially if they’re coasting in their job or business because they don’t want to upset the apple cart by straying into risky territory.

That all makes sense. But I know from recent experience that opening new doors and barging through them, terrified and exhilarated, is like a year in a health spa. It resets your capacity and thirst for something new faster than anything.

I feel I’m back in control, creating a great lifestyle with a fabulous balance of working with great clients and having fun adventures.

I feel empowered to step into my second act because I’m capable of anything. Learning to be more in the moment, present and not distracted, is a valuable life and business skill.

Try it. And who knows, maybe I’ll see you out on the next unknown trail, real or metaphorical.

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