Monday, December 7, 2009

Comfort Zone or Rocky Waters

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. ~ Mark Twain

I’ve met some of my goals this year, seen some fall by the wayside and been happily surprised by a few unplanned successes. One of the most positive things I’ll take away from this year is that stepping out of my comfort level actually put me back on track. Let me explain.
I started off the year in a bit of a writing slump, feeling dissatisfied with my progress and realizing I needed to shake things up a bit. My first opportunity came when I was asked to join a group of wonderful ladies from my local chapter and put together a writing blog. I’d never blogged before. Can you spell intimidating? I looked back on my life and realized that some of the best things that had ever happened to me were when I met an opportunity head-on and didn’t “think it to death”. I joined petit fours and hot tamales and have loved every minute of it. I can’t wait to see what we accomplish together this coming year. They’ve challenged me as a writer and supported me as friends. Thank you, ladies, for allowing me to be part of this amazing group of dedicated women.
In pursuit of one of my goals I took a writing class given by one of our founding members of Georgia Romance Writers and discovered a new sense of direction in my writing. I stepped out of my comfort level one more time and decided to target my current novel in a different direction. Doing so has given me a new sense of freedom and excitement for writing. It also led to new and unexpected critique partners (and dear friends) who have been tremendously encouraging and insightful.

So, like I mentioned at the start, this year I didn’t meet all of my goals, but it’s been a wildly successful year for me in many ways. I plan to spend the days after Christmas plotting my strategy for next year and making a list of new goals. I’ll leave you with one more quote from a favorite author.

“Remember – people who seem to move through life with confidence aren’t confident of the outcome of a decision; they are confident they can deal with the outcome, good or bad. – Stephanie Bond.

Here’s to wind in your sails!

So what about you? Have you ever taken a chance and stepped out of your comfort zone? Did it pay off?


Sandy Elzie said...

Darcy, Great post. Like you, I had never blogged before being asked to join PF&HT, but I'm so glad I said "yes". Fantastic group of ladies who support each other and who are so dang talented!

Have I ever stepped out of my comfort zone? Heavens yes! Every time I try something new...driving a car, dating, getting married (and all the new and exciting things that went along with THAT), and of course sending off a partial and waiting for a reply.

The great thing about being part of a group (like PF&HT) is that it's always easier to walk a new path if you have someone walking with you.


Sally Kilpatrick said...

Darcy--thanks for the inspiration, and I love the Twain quote. : )

Marilyn Baron said...

Great post! I was also one of the people who had never blogged before and I'm so glad I said yes to being part of the Petit Fours and Hot Tamales. It was the best decision I ever made. You are all so supportive in every way.

As far as stepping out of my comfort zone, starting my own business is one example. My father always said, "Stay on the payroll," an influence of his Depression Days. But I left a good job at AT&T and when I had my second child, I started my own public relations business with a partner. It was the right decision. I loved my corporate job and that was within my comfort zone, but there's nothing to compare to being your own boss.

Marilyn Baron

TerriOsburn said...

I've stepped out of my comfort zone more times than I can count and it's pretty much paid off every time. The biggest stretches have been when I've chosen to move from one state to another. I've done that three times now and looks like I'll go it again in the next six months.

Another stretch was the first time I went live on the radio. I have rarely if ever been that nervous. But it turned into an 8 year career and I loved every minute of it.

Darcy Crowder said...

Hi Sandy - Amen to that. It's always easier to walk a new path with a friend. I'm glad we're on this journey together. :)

Hi Sally - I love that quote. I've compiled a book of quotes that I've come across from time to time so I can skim through them easily and get inspired.

Hi Marilyn. Stepping out on your own to start a new business is definitly an intimidating process, but I agree, what a payoff! I had my own medical transcription business that I ran from home for about 7 years -- until my hands started giving out on me. It's liberating to be your own boss, to say the least.

Hi Terri, thanks for stopping by. I can't even imagine a job in radio, I get so tongue tied speaking to even small groups. :) I does sound like it would be a fun career to have. I hope your future move is everything you want it to be.

Good luck.

Cyrano said...

I too love that I was asked and now I'm a part of PFHT. I love my blog sisters, the inspiration they give to me, the support and the influence. They're GREAT!!
I don't think, other than being a newbie blogger that I've moved outside my comfort zone.
I need to get right on that for 2010.
Yet another gola for my ever expanding list.
Thanks so much for the post Darcy.
Have a lovely afternoon,

Darcy Crowder said...

Thanks for stopping by, Tamara. Hey, I'll push you, if you push me. ;)

Tami Brothers said...

You guys are great!! Thanks for another great post, Darcy. I LOVE the quotes. I think I'm turning into Tamara (not a bad thing, I would love to look like you, girl!!!) and am going to start a collection of quotes.

Standing up in front of people is stepping out of my comfort zone. Puttine myself out there is out of my comfort zone. Talking to people I don't know is out of my comfort zone. Which is why I make myself do it as often as I can. I want to be published AND ALL THAT GOES WITH BEING PUBLISHED, which means I need to put myself out there. I'm still working on it, but I'm definitely feeling a LOT more confident with myself.

I'm rooting for all of you! Let's all step out in 2010 together!!!


Susan May said...

I'm always stepping out of my comfort zone. Even a critique group makes me nervous. I step out Friday at a meeting that had transplant surgeons and nurses attending. I group way smarter than me. But we never learn anything new if we don't step out.

Ana Aragón said...


What a great post! I quit my job in corporate six years ago and started a magazine with a friend. While we didn't make it past one year (undercapitalized, I believe, is the word...) I put myself out there every month with 3-4 articles and editing the magazine, and realized I could write something that people liked! It was awesome.

When the magazine failed, I decided I would write that book I'd always been talking about. I came to a Georgia Romance Writer's meeting and introduced myself (actually, I cannot remember what I said!) and made some wonderful friends in the process.

Anything you do that puts you outside your comfort zone will have a positive effect, whether you're successful or not, because you took a chance on yourself.

Thanks for inspiring me to work harder this next year. Because that's what it takes!


Debbie Kaufman said...

I've been out of it so often, that I'm not sure where my comfort zone is anymore, LOL.

Linsey Lanier said...

Darcy, a poignant post as usual. Can't imagine why you'd ever be intimidated by blogging.

Here's to a new sense of freedom and excitement for all of us in 2010. I had forgotten Stephanie's excellent quote. Thanks for reminding me.


Darcy Crowder said...

Hi Tami! I would never guess that speaking in front of groups would be difficult for you, you are so calm and collected. :) Thanks for being our blog mama. I love this group!

Hey Susan. You inspire me every day. I've never seen you hesitate about just grab life by the horns and go! :)

Hi Anna. Starting a that's ambitious. I'm sorry it didn't work out for you, but hey, it led you to GRW, to our good fortune.

Debbie. LOL. I know this has been a very exciting year for you. Here's to an even better one next year. :)

Linsey, thanks. You ladies keep the bar high...I just try to keep up. :) I've been inspired by Stephanie in so many ways. Not only is she a great writer, she's a brilliant business woman.

Christine said...

Congratulations on your great year! I enjoy reading the blog a lot and I can't wait to see what is in store for you all next year.

Been a banner year for me as well: first National Conference, first time pitching, first time I've had actual editor/agent requests (and Rs but at least I've tried), first time to start new ventures in writing, and just a great year for me in so many ways.

Keep up the fabulous work!

Anna Steffl said...

Read your great post yesterday -- and got yanked away from the computer before I could comment.

Wow. I always forget all the great things that have happened to me when I've stepped out of the comfort zone. Not much horrible stuff has happened when I did! I just imagine the horrible stuff.

Carol Burnside said...

Stepped out of my comfort zone? You bet. It's hard to believe now, but I used to play piano and sing in front of audiences. Church, school plays, competitions, recitals. Talk about scary. One time a 'worst thing' happened - I forgot the words to the song, but kept singing, making it up as I went. Of course, people noticed and we laughed about it afterward, but there I could still hold my head up because some friends were in awe. You see, I hadn't faltered and the made-up words actually made sense. LOL! They couldn't believe I hadn't just fallen apart.

At those moments, when we take on a challenge, we learn something about ourselves, I think, and gain confidence.

Congrats on your the new directions your writing is taking and good luck in 2010!

Darcy Crowder said...

Hi Christine. Congratulations on all your writing firsts, especially sending out your work. That's a huge first step. Keep it up and great things will happen. :)

Hi Anna. :) I know what you mean about imagining the worst...the great thing is, those worsts rarely happen.

Hey Carol. I did not know that about you. I would love to hear you play sometime. But I did know you were always quick on your feet. :) Great story.