Getting comfortable being uncomfortable | A Women in Business Post

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life25 Comments
So last week, I launched CZ Classes.

I posted on Facebook and used a quote from one of my favorite films of the past few years, and that quote was this: big things have small beginnings.

Granted, the quote in the context of the film was nothing if not a tad malevolent, but the quote speaks to me nevertheless because I believe that it is true.

But here’s another thing I believe to be true: small beginnings and working harder than you’ve ever worked before are no guarantee that you will be successful.

I read this post from one of the founders of Big Deal Branding, the people who built my website, and it really resonated with me, especially this:

What I know for a fact is that there’s no road map that tells you how to navigate your way through these things … you just do it. Each time, you take a leap with a little more wind and experience (read: bourbon) in your sails from the time before. And if you keep pushing hard enough, you’ll look back five, ten, fifteen years later with a smirk and say, “nothing will ever be as gnarly as those first few years.” The lesson here: Before comparing yourself to someone who appears to have it all together, consider that maybe they’re just seasoned in the art of risk-taking.

Okay, two things: 1) Swap out the bourbon for Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, and 2) I need to stop comparing myself to others. That said, I’m realizing more than ever there is no one single road map for success.

I’ve been self-employed, more or less, since 1999. During that time, I’ve worked for many clients other than myself. I even managed to snag a salaried position with benefits when I worked for Simple Scrapbooks magazine back in the day. And while I’ve always been very good at juggling clients, tasks and my time, it’s always been in a relatively risk-free arena.

When I started teaching for the old Big Picture Classes in 2008, there was some risk involved, namely, will anyone sign up for my classes? What if I put a ton of hours into something that people aren’t even interested in? Luckily, for me, the response was great. But there was no real risk. I was happy to let everyone else manage the details. I had convinced myself that I was a content creator, not a content manager.

Many times, for people who make their living in the creative realm, the content management piece is the Achilles heel of the process. We like to make cool stuff and put it out there but as soon as you start deciding to monetize it, you have to start wearing  new and strange hats. Marketing. Promotion. Sales. Web design. And the list goes on.

I was more than happy to stay in a zone of working for others. The way I saw it, it let me do what I do best. Create and deliver.

But much like any business, everything changes all the time. I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself about change. It was time to figure some shit out and stop pretending like I was unable to take some real risks.

Speaking of great quotes, a student emailed me a little pep talk last week and shared this with me:

My son’s baseball instructor keeps telling him (and me) “Become comfortable with the uncomfortable.” My son, going through teenagering currently, snapped, “I hate that saying. I don’t get it it. I like routine. I don’t like change.” To which his instructor commented, “Kid, when you throw a ball does it always go where you want it to go?” (head shake) “Do you sometimes have to get off base, jump or stretch to get the ball to get the out or tag?” When my son nodded, the instructor continued, “That’s life. Sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone—like getting off the bag—and doing something unusual to get what you want. Get the tools you need, gather that knowledge, learn to react to situations, have a plan, then get used to expecting the unexpected and being comfortable with the uncomfortable.” I think he also added “turn your brain off and react,” but I don’t think you have to go that far…

I’ve got a daughter in college and a husband in grad school. Playing it safe, especially when he’s going to make a major, income-reducing career shift in the coming year, means my job is more important than ever.

CZ Classes is that risk. And I am so far out of my comfort zone that it’s freaking me out just a little bit.

Do I know how to make stellar classes? Absolutely. Do I care about customer experience? More than any other part of my business. Do I know everything about building and managing an education web platform? Hell to the know.

But I will learn. And I will get over both my fear of failure and my fear of success. They need to exist side by side.

I will learn to get comfortable with the uncomfortable.

And maybe back off the Reeses.


Thank you, seriously… for all the positive and constructive feedback for the launch of CZ Classes. I have decided to build a new site from the ground up that will be the eventual home, with all the bells and whistles I envision this site having. To keep apprised of the progress, please subscribe to my newsletter.

Cathy ZielskeGetting comfortable being uncomfortable | A Women in Business Post

25 Comments on “Getting comfortable being uncomfortable | A Women in Business Post”

  1. #2
    Katie Jones

    Fabulous post, Cathy. I think you have your s**t together so well! And I know *for sure* that I am not the only one who is grateful that you are stepping (leaping?) outside of your comfort zone to bring your classes to us in the way that you want them to be delivered. You are doing an amazing job! Thanks so much! (And thanks for sharing that it isn’t always easy, it makes it even better when it’s so amazing!)

  2. #3
    Paper Doll Art

    I am reading your post with my 9 day old baby in my arms dreaming of working from home to be able to stay with her. I started blogging on maternity leave to get used to the “new media”. Besides showing what I do I collect online self-study resources for fashion design and art journaling / scrapbooking. I’ll add CZ Classes when my baby allows me to 😉
    I think staying in my comfort zone really holds me back and prevents me from thinking out of the box and from finding THE business idea I want to pursue. The weired thing is: when working in my job I am not always in my comfort zone so why would I expect so when being self employed? Thank you for this eye opening post! I have to become comfortable with the uncomfortable!

  3. #4
    Heather D

    You can do this! Think of it this way, you’ve got the content creation part down pat. You’re good at it, even. Now you get to explore more ways to create, they’re just different sides to what you already know how to do.
    Marketing? Two parts, explaining what you’re offering in ways that make people excited to buy what you’re creating, and connecting, which is what you do when you share here.
    (I’ll email you about affiliate stuff later this week. I’m trying to finish up class materials for a class I’m teaching at my house on Saturday at the moment.)

  4. #5
    Kim DuPree

    Cathy, as you build your new business, you might want to take a look at karen gunton and her Lighthouse Revolution or look at Samantha Bennett – they may have some ideas that will help you. Yeah, you shouldn’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle, it’s a recipe for heartache and headache for you.

    As for your new business, hooray! I wish you all the success possible.

  5. #6

    Cathy, you are doing a great job and have legions of die-hard CZ supporters behind you. Thank you for continually creating classes and supplies that make us all look like rock-star designers to our families!

  6. #7
    Melissa Jones

    ❤️ from the outside looking in … You are very brave and I want you to know I’ll be over here on the sidelines cheering you on !!!

  7. #8

    We will give you all the space and time you need to share and unpack your emotions about your latest venture. You, my dear, are BELOVED, and your new venture, will blossom, grow and evolve to become a huge success, just have you have yourself. Hold onto the comfort that this is the ONE change going on in your life that you actually have control over, as your family members are EACH undergoing their own transitions, which will, of course, occur much more smoothly with you as a part of it. Enjoy this opportunity for new growth, as it stimulates you into your next phase. The secret to your success is that YOU GET PEOPLE, and you’re honest about things. Your new mantra (said ONLY to yourself, of course, because they would think you were being a “know-it-all”) should be I GET PEOPLE, much like that kid in Sixth Sense that kept saying “I see dead people.”

    You GET PEOPLE. You know how to make them laugh. You are a blessing to all, even the ones who you may be driving crazy at the moment, which is one aspect of your personality that WE ALL SHARE! Love you, and have a fantastic day!

  8. #11

    As I read about your new beginnings, you are helping me to help my husband as he has lost three major connections in his life within the last three months. His mother just died, he had to retire and has had a major, 12 hour, procedure to help with a heart ailment. He cared for his mother and father for 15 years. As I try to support him forward I appreciate your thoughts as you begin again. He is feeling very lost at the moment, but I do try to remind him that starting over is hard. You, among others, are helping me to support him emotionally as well mentally and physically deal with his sadness and try to embrace the life he has been reclaimed. Thank you and best of luck in your transition.

  9. #12

    Jillian Michaels says the same thing in her yoga video, “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” It has struck a cord on so many levels. I didn’t realize how much I LIKE comfortable. I LIKE my comfort zone. BUT, I think I’ve become stagnant in every area of life because I’ve let “comfortable” become my norm. You are brave to step outside the box. I applaud you!

  10. #14
    Nicky H

    I know how you feel, but am afraid to take the risk.
    I look forward to your future classes. 🙂

  11. #15
    Kim Smith

    You. Can. Do. This. Repeat as often as needed. We’re here for you, and with you on this journey!!

  12. #17

    I like the quote “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Looking forward to the new venture!

  13. #18

    I’ve been following you for years…and even took the “Me – The Abridged Version” class long ago. You inspire many people to create, and I know you will succeed! No need to freak out!

  14. #21
    Marcie L

    Good for you! Can’t wait to see what comes next from you. Love your tutorial videos, I was able to actually make a page from one of your free templates last month while doing LOAD. You make it super easy to follow, even for novices, and I so appreciate that!

  15. #22

    Yes, learning to be comfortable with the uncomfortable is a valuable lesson. I always find challenge is the spice of life. Without challenge, I always feel like something is missing. Maybe we’re wired for growth and when we stop, it feels wrong.

  16. #24

    Man, I love reading your blog. Always so real.

    If you ever want to do a hangout in St Paul and teach your class while hanging out in pj’s with wine and a bunch of introverts, I’d be the first to sign up and fly in for it. Not kidding.

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