Challenge by Choice

challenge by choice roller coaster

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Working as facilitators on a high ropes course has taught us many things about fear, comfort zones, and experiential learning. We open every session with a challenge-by-choice interaction where we ask our groups to step outside their comfort zone. We wondered how this applies to travel. Not in your comfort zone is, by definition, uncomfortable. Are we really going to suggest that people spend their vacations being uncomfortable? Expanding your comfort zone or returning to it for a brief respite are critical tools for travel but, in the end, you need to leave your comfort zone for one very important reason. Just outside of comfort is an important place for experiential learning – the growth zone.


Your comfort zone is like a fuzzy robe and slippers

Cats in tree

The session goes something like this… Everybody reach your arms out and give yourself a big hug. This is your comfort zone. It’s safe and cozy, like a fuzzy robe and slippers. Now open your arms up wide and turn around. This is your challenge zone. You are open to new experiences but outside of your comfort zone. Somewhere, out beyond your fingertips, is the panic zone [we say as we wave our arms in the air]. We don’t want you in the panic zone, and if that happens, you can always come back to the comfort zone [as we hug ourselves] until you are ready to return to the growth zone [as we open our arms wide].


New experiences live in the growth zone

Jenn and DolphinLet’s think of some things and see how they make us feel. Sitting on the couch eating mac and cheese. Trying new food from a street vendor in a night market. Eating bugs with Bear Grylls. Your hometown. A foreign city where you can’t read the signs or speak the language. The tree you see lying in your bed. A redwood outside of your tent. Rushing down a river in a whitewater kayak. Swimming with sharks. Petting dolphins. Your family holiday celebration. An exotic festival with new songs and bright costumes. For each question, the group will have given a self-hug, open to the world or waving their hands in panic.


Everybody is different

IMG_20150419_211806After the comfort, challenge, panic exercise we ask open-ended questions about what we have learned. Some people are afraid of everything. Some people are afraid of nothing. Everybody has different things they are comfortable with. Some of the things that sounded the most fun also sounded scary, like rappelling off a 200′ cliff. It’s ok to be afraid, but you still want to challenge yourself. After a day of climbing high elements and zip lining, we ask the group about their comfort zone. Almost everybody says they felt a little afraid at times, but they were glad that challenged their fears and tried new things.


Travel is a tool for personal growth

Jenn DivingThe growth zone is always just beyond your comfort zone. Travel is a fantastic tool for personal growth and experiential learning. We will continue to offer advice to expand your comfort zone (or at least ward off panic) and inspiration so you know it is all worth it. We hope that you will continue to choose challenge and open your arms wide to the world. In the end, that is what being an adventurist is.

See also
Dream Maintenance - the Art of Letting Go


Co-Founders and Content Creators at | Website
Hi! We are Jenn and Ed Coleman aka Coleman Concierge. In a nutshell, we are a Huntsville-based Gen X couple sharing our stories of amazing adventures through activity-driven transformational and experiential travel.



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Meet Ed & Jenn

Hi! We are Jenn and Ed Coleman, and together we are Coleman Concierge. It is our goal to inspire you to get out, expand your world, and to seek adventure, even in your own backyard.

We deeply believe in the transformational power of travel. Our tagline is amazing adventures for ordinary people because we believe that you don’t have to be super rich, super fit or super anything to have an amazing adventure. Expanding your comfort zone and trying new things will pay huge dividends in both health and happiness.

We advocate for sustainable and ethical travel and truly believe in the power of travel to transform both ourselves as well as the world around us.


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