When was the last time you did something that scared you?

I’d be lying to you if I said that our new sailing adventure didn’t scare me. We are currently around three months into our new boat life. We are very happy with our purchase and the huge life change that we have made. We are excited for our future, all of the amazing places we…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: June 5, 2023

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Scaring yourself is a good thing – it means that you're pushing yourself to do something new and outside of your comfort zone. This can help you grow as a person and continue to improve. #scareyourself #motivation #dreamlife #lifetipsI’d be lying to you if I said that our new sailing adventure didn’t scare me.

We are currently around three months into our new boat life. We are very happy with our purchase and the huge life change that we have made.

We are excited for our future, all of the amazing places we will visit, and all of the learning experiences that we will get to have.

However, making this huge lifestyle change has been a little scary for me.

The first month of boat ownership was an interesting one. Before we bought our boat, we were constantly told that there are two best days in a boat owner’s life:

  1. The day you buy you boat.
  2. The day you sell it.

And, for a moment there, I thought that was right, haha!

Related content: Setting 2019 Goals- Let’s make this year the best!

See, we really loved full-time RVing, and it became so easy for us. We were definitely in our comfort zone while RVing, and that’s part of the reason for why we wanted to switch to sailing – we wanted to start a new adventure, have a new challenge, learn new things, and more.

We 100% knew that sailing would be more difficult for us as there is just so much to learn, but that first month of boat ownership definitely tested me.

There were times when I wondered if we had made a huge mistake and times when I wondered what the heck I had just gotten myself into. I just felt that there was so much to learn, and I started to scare myself – I started to think that there was no way I could possibly learn everything.

I became my own worst enemy.

Wes is a natural when it comes to sailing, and he does so well with it. But me? I was just so afraid that I would never get the hang of it all.

Scaring yourself is a good thing – it means that you’re pushing yourself to do something new and outside of your comfort zone. This can help you grow as a person and continue to improve.

However, I started to scare myself to the point that I began to doubt myself entirely.

And, that’s when I realized that I just needed to tell myself to shut up.

Doing new things is going to be scary, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world.

I can now say that I’m so glad I pushed myself because I already feel 1,000% happier about the transition, and I’ve learned so much, to the point that those fears have all gone away.

While I’m definitely no pro and know that I will be learning for years and decades more, I am so very happy with the progress I have made.

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And, that’s why I wanted to create today’s blog post.

Sometimes, actually most of the time, you are your own worst enemy.

If I would have quit, I would have regretted it and felt pretty dumb!

Reaching success isn’t easy. If it were, then it probably wouldn’t be called success. Success and reaching your dream life takes hard work, a can-do attitude, and more.

Some of the best things in life will be scary, and you shouldn’t stop once you get scared. That means that you’ve just begun!

Here are my tips to get out of your comfort zone and stop holding yourself back.


Realize that good things will be scary.

Everything in life won’t be easy.

There will be times when you may be scared and times when you may not believe in yourself.

But, you have to push through these negative moments and realize that you are holding yourself back if you don’t let yourself move forward and do something new.


Just get out and do it.

The main thing that worked for me was that I knew I just had to get out and sail without an instructor. So, we took a bunch of classes, got signed off by insurance, and the following day, we went out all by ourselves.

All of those fears that I had went away when we went out and then safely docked ourselves back in our slip.

I then had the confidence I needed because I saw that it could be done!

Sometimes, you just have to do whatever scares you and get that feeling out of the way by putting it out in the open and seeing that you can accomplish something that terrifies you. By doing it, you’ll see that you were holding yourself back and that you are stronger than your fear.


Stop making excuses.

Making excuses is a mindset that can hold you back and keep you in your comfort zone. When a person is scared of something new, it is very normal to make excuses that prevent you from going to the next step.

This bad habit can hold you back from your dreams, success, retirement, and more.

To put it simply, excuses prevent you from living the life you want.

You’re giving up before you’ve even started.

We make excuses for all sorts of things, like why you can’t get the job you want, why debt can’t be paid off, why you need a brand new car, and so on.

Now, I’m not saying that life isn’t difficult because everyone has experienced difficulties – no matter how perfect you may perceive a person’s life to be.

But, we are all guilty of making excuses, and I know that people will continue to make them until they realize that excuses are just that – excuses.

Just think about the last time you said, “That won’t work for me because (fill in the blank with your excuse here).”

As a personal finance expert, I hear a lot of excuses for why a person can’t save money, pay off debt, live the life they want, reach retirement, and so on.

There are plenty of legitimate reasons for why some people have financial setbacks, but there are still many people making excuses for why they can’t achieve their goals or why their life is bad.

You won’t fix your problems by making excuses. Instead, you are likely causing undue stress and anxiety that leads to even more problems.

Reaching your dream life will take time, and there might be setbacks, but your goal is only impossible if you quit before you get there.


Be confident.

Success isn’t easy. If it were easy, then everyone would be extremely successful.

To get outside of your comfort zone, you need to start believing in yourself and be more confident.

Think about what you are good at, think about successes you have had, and see those things as evidence for how you can succeed. Everyone has it in them, but sometimes we forget that we have already overcome things.

Learning how to be confident can lead to getting the job you want, making more money, reaching you dreams, public speaking, meeting new people, networking, managing a business or employees, traveling the world, and more. Gaining confidence can help you in many, many different ways.

However, a lack of confidence may:

  • Prevent someone from believing in themselves.
  • Lead to someone being too shy to do what they want or need.
  • Force someone to do things they hate.
  • Cause someone to ruin a meeting, job possibility, and so on.
  • Lead to unhappiness.

Confidence is so very important, but perhaps that’s one fear you need to overcome!


It doesn’t have to be hard.

You don’t need to do something completely crazy in order to get out of your comfort zone. It could be something that just takes a minute or two or your time – it doesn’t have to be a life changing process that never ends.

I know a few people right now who are doing a personal 30 day challenge that asks them to do something uncomfortable and outside of their comfort zone, every single day for 30 days.

This could be a great way to get you moving and outside of your comfort zone!

Here’s a quick sample list of things that you can do to scare yourself and get out of your comfort zone (some are big, some are small, and some may be easy for you but hard for others):

  • Public speaking
  • Take the lead in your next work project
  • Skydive
  • Sing karaoke
  • Stand up for yourself
  • Quit your job and follow your passion
  • Tell someone a secret of yours
  • Admit when you’re wrong
  • Workout
  • Go for a long hike
  • Dance when no one else is dancing
  • Go phone-less for a day
  • Ask for a raise
  • Volunteer
  • Take a class
  • Smile at every stranger you see
  • Take a video of yourself in public
  • Do a Facebook Live
  • Travel alone
  • Eat alone at a restaurant
  • Face your biggest fear in life

Do one thing every day that scares you.

When was the last time you scared yourself? Are you stuck in your comfort zone?

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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Two weeks ago I sold a website that been the main source of income for my family for the past year. It’s kind of scary not knowing what the future holds, but I just didn’t feel like it was the right path for me to continue on. Like you mentioned, being willing to step outside your comfort zone often leads to something better and more fulfilling.

    1. What’s your plan for now? 🙂

      1. For now I’m focusing on a few websites that I haven’t really had much time for in the past.

  2. I left an easy, steady job for a harder, more fast paced job. The new gig pays more, but it is so hard and really pushes myself to the limit. I’m just starting week 2 of the new job, and I kind of want to quit haha.
    It’s still so scary, and at least once a day I think, “WHAT HAVE I DONE?!” But I’m hoping I get more confident and grow!

    1. hahaha I completely understand. Do you enjoy your new job?

  3. Good morning Michelle,

    I could never imagine living life on a sailboat because I’m not fond of being on boats. I always wanted to get on a boat as a kid and go fishing but never had the chance to back in Brooklyn. I prefer living on land because I still have a fear for some things. I’m happy to hear that it’s working out for you although you feel you’re somewhat scared 3 months into living the 100% sailboat life. if you ask me, I don’t think you’ll live for the rest of your life on a boat as it’s nothing more been a good life experience for you while you’re in your late 20s. everyone including myself is done something adventurous in our Twenties that we can look back on later down the road and laugh about.

    Yes, I do agree with you that good things tried for the first time will be scary. Once you get over the fear, your feelings will adjust to it and you’ll feel like Indiana Jones, Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, and Quartermaine and doing more adventurous things. when it comes to entrepreneurship, one must be willing to stop making excuses like you said, do the transformation business work in faith, and get moving. Thanks for another thought provoking blog post.

    And before I go, I did try my hand at public speaking indirectly and I was a little iffy shaky about that in the beginning. There’s a certain kind of feeling that overcomes me when I’m speaking before a large group of people. But one thing I learned is as I perfect and tweet my public speaking skills from time to time, I also discovered it can be quite a lucrative gig in terms of earning large sums of money. Lastly, you mentioned about quitting your job and following your passion. I’m all for that because if you do something you love is a business, it’s really not considered work although it is work and you’ll end up being when least expected a “side hustle millionaire!”

    Keep up the good work my friend 🙂

  4. I am super impressed with embracing something that definitely outside of the norm. Sailing is challenging for sure and requires a lot of preparation when you make a long trip as you can’t just run to the local grocery store to pick something up.

    Very inspirational post. It definitely was not something as drastic but anytime I have ventured outside of my comfort zone I have pretty much been rewarded either with the experience or a monetary reward.

    Starting a blog for me was my latest scary adventure. I had put it off for so many years and finally decided to do it this past April and it really has been a wonderful experience, meeting new friends and interacting with a great community.

    1. Glad you started a blog 🙂

  5. Ugh, I never get tired of posts like these — it is ALWAYS a good reminder not to settle! Complacency is a dangerous habit.

    I think I’m maybe a little in a comfort zone at my workplace. But my life was so all over the map for awhile, I thought that this consistency was a good thing. Maybe not.

    One thing that was scary was publishing my latest post! Writing about my personal life a little more and opening up to the interwebs is terrifying (what if they hate me? what if they find out I’m not cool and actually a nerd!!!), but I’m glad I did. 🙂

    Thanks for the encouragement!

  6. welcome to boat life! Looking forward to hearing more about your experience. I am a sailor/wanderer and professional improviser/speaker that just started blogging at http://www.improvise.blog. Learning a lot from your blog and career. If you have any sailing/cruising questions i hope i can help!
    Currently in VA and headed to Bahamas in the Fall.

  7. I LOVE trying things that scare me. It’s weird, it true. I’m afraid of heights, but went indoor rock climbing for my anniversary (First step to a hiring my goal of climbing the limestone forest in Madagascar).
    I’m also terrified to start my own online business (having my voice and work out in the world), but have started a blog and am loving it (mostly, ha!).
    I’m scared of a lot, but I’m more scared of missing out on something amazing by letting that fear control me. So, I challenge myself a lot (and others, I love to help and challenge others).

    Thanks for this post! You’re amazing!

    1. Awesome! Rock climbing is so much fun 🙂

  8. Latrice

    Great post!

    The last time I scared myself, I “quit” a toxic job environment without another job lined up. The boss gave me the option to be laid off or stay. I chose to be laid off.

    Now, I’m facing another “scary” thought and that’s to quit my job and blog full-time. My blog is making money but not enough to quit yet. I’m feeling like if I had more time, I’ll reach my income goals much quicker. And the thought has been so persistent.

    Feeling stuck in the comfort zone of a paycheck and full benefits, but every time I receive my direct deposit, I’m reminded of how badly I want to quit. I feel like I’m missing out on money.

    But I’m scared.

    Oh, and I love your Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course… I’ve been working through it for the last couple of weeks.

  9. Mrs. Picky Pincher

    Improvement is built upon daily courage. 🙂 I’ve been trying to get outside my comfort zone a lot more. I’m a creature of habit and a homebody, so putting myself out there has always been difficult. But if you take just a small step each day, it makes you bigger and better for the next day.

  10. Marleigh

    The past two weekends, I have traveled with my chronic illness not fully in remission. I definitely thought to myself why am I doing this? Pushing myself wont make it go away or make it better. But instead I learned that I could have the confidence to travel with my accommodations and adapt our travels to my needs. Its still a battle due to comfort issues but with my husband’s support, we are loving our freedom in our little travel trailer.

  11. Melody

    I’m quitting my job, and this week is my last week! It’s a stable, six-figure full time job. But. I’m extremely burnt out and my doctor said my health is being affected by stress. So I put my notice in and said I’ll figure it out from there. I don’t even have a full time job lined up yet, just some part time gigs.

    So I’m taking a pay cut but really hoping I’ll be much happier, now that I’ll have more time to pursue blogging and other things I love. It’s definitely scary because I still have a lot of student loans, but after 6 years of being unhappy with my job, it was time. I really hope it wasn’t a mistake leaving and that my risk pays off!

    Here’s to taking a chance, and knowing it’s ok to be a little scared!

    1. Here’s to taking a chance! Have fun 🙂

  12. The Curious Frugal

    That’s great that you just kept moving forward Michelle! I don’t live in my comfort zone that often. I feel like I’m always challenging myself to do different things. That doesn’t at all mean that I breeze through them! There are doubts and I get scared and I fumble, but I still like trying new things.

  13. This is EXACTLY what I blog about and I love your post so much! I’m doing several things that scare me right now all at once, including starting this blog. It will be up in the next few weeks! Yikes – so exciting!!!
    Your blog is what inspired me to do this – so thank you so much Michelle!

  14. I’m glad to hear you are feeling more comfortable on the sailboat! I still freak out when I’m at the helm, wondering if I will “hit” something. I can’t seem to judge how fast my boat is going compared to others! Also, I think I often fall back on Tom because he’s an experienced sailor, so I’m not forcing myself to learn as much as I should. The Bay area scares me with SO many boats, shallow water, and crazy winds. It’s a good place to learn but I’ll be glad for the day when I feel more comfortable. That being said, I’m not really scared of going places on the boat – even out in the ocean! It’s more scared when I’m the one in charge, haha 🙂

    1. For me, it’s the docking that still gets me. We’ve been out a ton and have docked a lot – but docking is my least favorite thing, haha.

      Thankfully, Wes is wonderful at docking and I’m decent on the lines haha!

  15. I resigned my job as a cop to become a full time blogger. It was the main source of income for almost seven years.
    I am also thinking of selling a business that I started up selling marinade! It is scary and I wonder if it is worth it because I never had the money to push that business to the point of being worth a lot of money.
    I could really use some advise me on that one.

    My aim is to become like you Michelle, Making over 100, 000 per month blogging.

  16. I’m so happy for your new adventure! Sometimes it’s so hard to remember that excuses is a bad habit. It’s something that we can change and not forced into it! Great post.

  17. I’m applying for a promotion and I recently started a blog. Both of those things are scary… I feel too comfortable now so, I know it’s time to push myself a bit!