4 Secrets To Living Your Best Life When You Outgrow Your Comfort Zone

by Sarah Peterson

Bob and Bubbles were our turtles.

I was 7, and I thought they were the coolest pets ever. My brother loved the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," and I suspected our ownership of these reptiles was related to this.

I remember taking them out to the deck in a little kiddie pool while my mother cleaned their tank. I was only allowed to touch them then, and only if I washed my hands right after. They didn't move around much.

Bob stayed small. He was this cute little dude, about the size of a sand dollar, and he grew to the size of a Subway cookie.

Bubbles had aspirations. He grew from being a little pipsqueak, about the size of Bob, to the size of a side plate (and then some).

We couldn't keep them; we didn't have the aquatic means.

Bob and Bubbles were quite attached (like brothers), so when Bubbles outgrew his container, Bob went with him.

How To Know When You Outgrow Your Container:

I was 3 when we moved to my hometown. It was a small town. It's grown substantially since, but when we moved there, it didn't have much.

There was a library, an Overwaitea and a couple of gas stations. It wasn't exactly a thriving urban metropolis.

I was 19 when I left, about to turn 20.

For about five or six years before I left, I begged my mother to let us move. We did (though certainly not because of my pleas), but we boomeranged back to this tiny little town I had come to resent.

I resented the heat in the summer and snow in the winter. I resented the customers at my retail job who were just people I'd known my entire life and Albertan tourists. I resented the lack of opportunity small-town Canada provided.

I felt suffocated by my surroundings.

Like Bubbles, I'd outgrown my container.

How Big Is Your Container?

A funny thing happened the year I moved.

As my container got bigger, so did my life. Previously demotivated, disconnected and unhealthy, I suddenly felt unstoppable.

I got fit, started a blog and reconnected with long-lost family members. I explored, made new friends and enrolled in a degree program.

I hauled lumber for the better part of a year to pay for it, which was the best-paying job I'd had in my entire life. I became interested in finance and savings. I went on a vacation.

I began to fill my new container with bigger and better things.

Perhaps you haven't thought of it, but you're in a container, too. We all are. Sometimes, the container is the one that society puts us in. We have expectations that we're supposed to fulfill.

We have the expectation that we need to go to college, get that diploma, get a job with a pension and benefits and retire at 65 or 55 (if we're lucky). That's a container.

The idea that we need to have 1.6 children, live in a big suburban house and have new cars parked in the driveway is a container.

Sometimes, we put ourselves in containers, ones around the beliefs we have about ourselves, our abilities and our destinies. My container was very much self-imposed.

And sometimes, containers are good. They help us know our limitations, our boundaries.

They prevent us from growing too big, too soon. They lessen the growing pains.

But you choose the container you're in. Unlike Bubbles, you have control over your container.

You'll Outgrow Some Containers.

Have you ever heard that fish grow to the size of their tanks? That's what Bubbles did.

You're a lot like Bubbles.

You'll fill the space of your container.

If you expand your container, you'll rise to the occasion. You won't have to try; you'll just continue to expand and broaden. If you stay put in a small container, you'll quickly run out of room to grow.

So, give yourself a big container. And don't be afraid to upgrade your container once you've filled it.

How To Increase The Size Of Your Container:

Maybe you've had a hunch that your container has been too small for a while, but you find yourself swimming circles around it, trying to find a way to knock down a wall without much luck.

How can you increase the size of your container?

1. Start something.

Start anything. Prove to yourself you're an action taker. Start a blog, a fitness program, a business or something on the side.

2. Travel.

When you travel, you make the entire world your container. You begin to see what's possible.

3. Shake things up.

Find a new job, move to a new city or take on a new hobby.

4. Face a fear.

Do something you are scared to do. Start putting words out there. Start a blog, approach somebody you admire for coffee or book a one-way ticket to Europe.

5. Achieve something.

It doesn't matter if it's something small, something huge or a quick win for the day.

6. Surround yourself with big people.

They'll pull you out of your small container. A rising tide lifts all boats. Bubbles outgrowing his container benefited Bob, too.

The idea is to stretch yourself out of your comfort zone and to expand your container. The more you do this, the bigger your container will become, and the bigger you will grow to fill it.

Try to do one thing each day to expand your container. You'll find yourself constantly swapping out for larger containers. Imagine how big your life could become.

So, start with today. What will you do today to expand your container?