I’ve been thinking lately about personal growth. With running, I get frustrated because I feel like I’m so slow and don’t seem to be improving as fast as I’d like. In reality, I’m probably doing quite well — I’ve got that “healthy muscle pain” most days of the week — and that pain brings growth. While I would love to stay with just breezy 2 mile run workouts, I know it’s time to move up. It’s only when you get OUT of your comfort zone that you begin to grow.

Two months ago, an easy two-mile run would have been out of the question in my head. Running a 5K race? You’re kidding, right? Six miles? Oh hell, no. 13.1 mile half-marathon? Thanks, but no thanks. But slowly, I’m moving forward. I know I’ll be ready for that half-marathon this Labor Day, no matter how uncomfortable the thought of it is to me right now.

It makes me wonder about other areas of my life I need to get out of my comfort zone. While I love learning new technologies and languages, it’s always easier just to keep on doing what you already know. So I’ve decided to do my best to stay out of my comfort zone for awhile and keep pushing myself harder in anticipation of growth.

My favorite band, Béla Fleck & the Flecktones, wrote a song called Sojourn of Arjuna. It’s from the Bhagavad Gita and talks about moving forward, fostering growth, stepping out of your comfort zone. Victor Wooten speaks over the instrumental, and one line is, “A man must go forward from where he stands — he cannot jump to the absolute, he must evolve toward it.”

Get out of that comfort zone that you’re cozily snuggled into. Step out into an unknown that makes you uncomfortable, maybe scares you a little. Make those muscles ache, whether it’s your brain, body, or spirit. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish while you’re living outside your comfort zone.