When was the last time you really wanted to try something new but you hesitated and stuck with what felt comfortable? (Key word being stuck.)

What if everything you’ve ever wanted to experience is just on the other side of feeling comfy?

We all understand how important it is to stretch our bodies before and after we exercise. It increases blood flow and circulation for a healthier body and sends oxygen to the brain for a clearer mind. Stretching allows us to perform more efficiently on every level. We can ultimately achieve more when we devote even a few minutes a day to this simple practice.

So why would we ever skip this much-needed, beneficial step?

I think it’s easy to forget to stretch. I often overlook it because the results aren’t as obvious as running, squatting or lifting weights. But fitness experts say stretching can lead to better posture, fewer aches and pains, greater confidence, and a cheerier outlook on life.

Often times we don’t even realize we are sabotaging our chances at true fulfillment—abundance, joy, love, lasting success. But if we can allow ourselves to take that first step into the unknown, we will find we are more courageous, capable and resilient than we ever imagined. I’ve discovered that when we take risks and rise to the challenge, we stretch, grow, and expand in ways that catapult us into new levels of excitement—we feel lit up from the inside out and our life reflects that back to us with improved relationships, career opportunities, financial success and freedom.

It all starts with our willingness to stretch our comfort zone.

Our comfort zone is that place where we feel safe. It’s predictable and familiar. Some psychologists suggest it’s just a made-up mental boundary we’ve imposed on ourselves to maintain a sense of security. While this can be a good place to feel at home within ourselves, it’s also a place where we can easily get stuck. The practice of regularly stretching our comfort zone and moving into another space of growth and expansion has the potential to truly transform our lives. There is uncertainty, sure, but you’re also giving yourself a healthy challenge, and fresh opportunities to become a more authentic version of yourself. I’ve found, this is where life gets really juicy and magical!

For example, I do not like participating in online dating. I mean I really do not like it! I have even used the word hate, and I know I’m not alone here. Recently I was introduced to a man, and we really hit it off. We shared a great connection, and it reminded me how much I do want to be in a romantic relationship with a great partner. This particular guy was not emotionally ready for a serious relationship, but I realized I was. In that spirit, I knew I had to put myself out there, both physically and energetically, and in this day and age, that meant posting my dating profile online. Eek!

Because I was so serious about meeting a wonderful partner, I was willing to stretch my comfort zone. I felt ready and emotionally available unlike in the past. I had done the inner work necessary to be able to truly give and receive love and not sabotage it. Putting myself out there in a real and vulnerable way felt a bit uncomfortable at first, but I embraced it. I’m thrilled to report I met a fantastic man who I am now in a committed relationship with, and I couldn’t be happier! So I’m here to share with you firsthand that stretching your comfort zone works!

I believe any stretch or change, even positive change, can make us feel uneasy. It requires courage. It forces us to break free from the box inside our minds that says it’s safer and easier to just keep doing what we’re doing.

Stretching our comfort zone means we have no choice but to show up as a different, more-improved and enhanced version of ourselves. But what is the alternative?

Some stretches are very deep, we stay in them a while, strengthening, lengthening, becoming more powerful. Other times, we just need a quick stretch.

I remember the first live shot I did as a TV news reporter and feeling so nervous, even a little shakey, thinking, “What if I mess up? Forget what I’m going to say? People laugh at me for not being amazing?”

If you’re doing something for the first time and feeling anxious, a little unsure of yourself, worried about judgement from yourself and others, this is a good thing! And I’m here to tell you, “You’re going to be great!” Not because you did anything “perfectly” (no such thing), but because you showed up and did it! You will continue to get better and better. In time, this new endeavor will feel almost effortless. Just keep going!

If you feel called to do something, it is because you are meant to do that very thing. Take a moment and reflect on the fact that everything in your life has prepared you for this moment. Think of experiences you have been through that can show you why you are more prepared and perfect for this role than you realize.

Just like stretching wakes up our physical muscles, and can reduce future injury and pain, the same can be said for stretching outside our comfort zone. It is healing and rewarding to stretch. Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you.