The Comfort Zone Project

Written by on February 10, 2014 in Asia, Expat Life, Thailand, The Comfort Zone Project - 46 Comments

“Life’s not about living happily ever after … it’s about living.”

That is the tagline for my blog, and was the motivating factor in the major decision I made nearly four years ago to quit my job in public relations and take a career-break and head out for a solo travel adventure.

It’s the same motivating factor that pushed me to quit my job again in 2012 and head over to Thailand to live as an expat and work for Save Elephant Foundation.

But, during my time in Thailand, something happened:

I lost my focus.

I lost my motivation.

I lost myself.

It’s easy to do, really.

I am a stranger in a foreign land. At first, I was wide-eyed, I was excited, I was go-go-go. And then, I wasn’t. I settled into a routine that wasn’t really a routine at all, but more of a passage of time when I wasn’t in the office or with elephants. I took up smoking again. I began to drink. A lot.

I found myself stuck in this comfort zone that I would never be stuck in a place where the cost of living wasn’t as cheap, where the culture here is to drink, eat, sleep. My blog suffered. But, most importantly, I suffered. Travel became a pain in the arse. And, when I did travel, there was nothing I found worthy of writing about really. I stuck to my corner of Chiang Mai, barely venturing out. I became that girl who does nothing with her life but watch it fly by. Soon, I was in Thailand six months … a year … a year-and-a-half … and other than my day job, had little to show for it. Friends came, friends went. And soon, I began to just be that wash-rinse-repeat person.

I am still me, but not the version of me I am happy with anymore.

So, I’ve come to a decision. It’s time for a major change in my life. It is time to live again. To live for me again.

Over the next year, I want to take you on my journey. I want to share with you the trials, triumphs and travel as I navigate my way out of The Comfort Zone and into a life I own — a conscious, happy existence.

The Comfort Zone Project

What does that mean?

Well, I’ve broken The Comfort Zone Project into four quarters. The first quarter is all about gaining confidence I have lost along the way. It’s about quitting smoking. Letting go of my vices and getting healthy, mentally and physically, and how life changes as an expat when that is accomplished. I’ve always been honest with you about my life, my struggles, my achievements, and this will be no different. I’m raw. I wear my heart on my sleeve. And you will be a fly on the wall throughout this next year.

I don’t want to give too much away, but I can promise you the quarters after that are even juicier and will not only challenge myself, but also take a look at others living a life as an expat, travelers and more. My goal is to show you that, no matter where in the world you are, you, too, can make positive changes in your life while seeing the world. I also want to show you how others live and highlight people who cross my path as I work to better myself.

It may get bumpy, I may cry (hell, I know I will cry), but I also know I will laugh. I will smile. I will love. And, at the end of the day, that’s what is most important.

Get ready for the ride and come with me as I embark on The Comfort Zone Project.

About the Author

Diana Edelman is a travel writer and expat currently residing in Chiang Mai, Thailand. She is a former career breaker and long term solo traveler. Today, she helps promote responsible elephant tourism and is the co-founder of #RTTC, a weekly chat on Twitter focusing on responsible tourism. When she isn’t writing, Diana handles the PR and social media for Save Elephant Foundation, which runs the popular Elephant Nature Park. Her writing as appeared in About.com, Thought Catalog, The Huffington Post, Matador Network, Travel + Escape, Luna Luna, Vegas Seven, World Nomads, Viator, CheapOair, OneTravel and more.

46 Comments on " The Comfort Zone Project "

  1. Jeannie February 10, 2014 at 3:32 am · Reply

    I LOVE your honesty, and the way you write. Poetry, always. People often forget that ruts can happen even as an expat (uh, looking at myself in the mirror now). As much as I need to leave China, it’s also a place I’ve become familiar with and part of me is afraid to let it go! I know you can make whatever it is you want happen, you’ve done it before and can do it again. Belief is half of it. :) Goo Comfort Zone Project!

    • Diana February 11, 2014 at 2:47 am · Reply

      Thank you, Jeannie! You have no idea how much that means to me, considering I think you are one of the most brilliant writers out there!! I agree, people do forget that ruts can happen no matter where in the world someone is living. People always look at me and tell me I have it made, but that is purely from an outward glance, not looking inside to really see what is going on in my world/mind. I know how hard it is to make a decision to leave. It is something you and I have both grappled with over the years as we make plans and chase our dreams. Thank you so much for your support!

  2. Mags February 10, 2014 at 3:37 am · Reply

    You are such an inspiration, D! I too decided this yesterday, funny we did it at the same time. I will follow you and support you along the way as I go through the same journey, simultaneously with you. YOU CAN DO IT!!

    • Diana February 11, 2014 at 2:45 am · Reply

      Awww, thanks Mags!! If we are doing this together, you know you are going to have to come to Thailand … or I am going to have to go to Sweden … <3

      • Mags February 19, 2014 at 3:24 am · Reply

        It’s a sign, D, a very strange coincidence that we both decided to take it one year at a time, too. I’ve never done that before but somehow it makes it more of a commitment than “baby steps” and “one day at a time”, it just hasn’t worked. This IS working and if I have to come to Thailand to prove it, I just have to do it :) We are doing this, D. You are beautiful and you are worth everything that’s good in life, let’s not punish ourselves, this year is about loving. I love you!

        • Diana February 20, 2014 at 12:01 am · Reply

          You know, I used to have this big old plan. When i turned 30, I chucked it. Now, if you ask me where I will be in a year, I shrug my shoulders. No sense in planning for the future when you have the present to live and appreciate. You do have to come to Thailand. Immediately. I love you honey. Thank you for your support!

  3. amy February 10, 2014 at 10:14 am · Reply

    hi diana…you have amazing courage – thank you for sharing with us and wishing you lots of luck!!! x

    • Diana February 11, 2014 at 2:45 am · Reply

      Amy, thank you so much for that!! I hope I am able to do this and share the results and what I learn with you!

  4. Alana - Paper Planes February 10, 2014 at 10:52 am · Reply

    Can’t wait to hear more! :)

    • Diana February 11, 2014 at 2:44 am · Reply

      Thanks, Alana! It is a massive project. I’m going to be talking more about the other quarters are the year unfolds … definitely not going to be an easy year, but I’m up for the challenge!

  5. Beverley - Pack Your Passport February 10, 2014 at 11:28 am · Reply

    Totally behind you on this one lovely! As you know I lived as an expat in Australia and New Zealand and SO much happened during that time that wasn’t about travel or my blog or writing….it was about me and sorting MY life/head out.

    I can’t wait to see your new project unfold D :)
    x

    • Diana February 11, 2014 at 2:44 am · Reply

      Exactly. Hopefully, people will want to read about it! I still plan on traveling, etc. but I want to take some time to work on ME. Thank you for your support!! <3

  6. ofelia February 10, 2014 at 11:48 am · Reply

    i’m ready lady – let’s do this.

    • Diana February 11, 2014 at 2:43 am · Reply

      Game on, Ofelia!! :)

  7. Phil February 10, 2014 at 1:15 pm · Reply

    Many times we humanoids opt for the path of least resistance. It’s not difficult to fall into this trap/rut. It is harder to get out of the trap than to fall into it. But having done it before, I am sure you will do it again and you will come out on the other side filled with new adventures and insights!

    • Diana February 11, 2014 at 2:43 am · Reply

      Least resistance is always the easiest. I think it is in our nature to naturally just go for the low-hanging fruit. And, you are right, it is definitely very difficult to get out of it once entangled in that life. I hope I am able to pull this off! Thank you for your support!

  8. Mrs. Chasing the Donkey February 10, 2014 at 4:45 pm · Reply

    THis project sounds like one that you’ll come out the other end with a HUGE grin on your face. I look forward to watching you smile again.

    • Diana February 11, 2014 at 2:42 am · Reply

      I hope that is the end result — among other end results!! Looking forward to this adventure.

  9. Jeremy February 10, 2014 at 5:00 pm · Reply

    Good luck on your quest, Diana! I know you’ve got it in ya!

    • Diana February 11, 2014 at 2:41 am · Reply

      Thanks!! Let’s hope so!!

  10. Britany February 10, 2014 at 5:34 pm · Reply

    This is a great idea! So great, that I might steal this idea and do it too. It’s so easy to get sucked into your comfort zone. Living in NYC, I’m constantly hearing people who visit this city talk about the amazing stuff they want to do/see and I’m like… yeeeeah, I live here and I’ve never done that. I’ve got to start taking advantage of the adventures to be had around me.

    Looking forward to following along and having my own little comfort project as well!

    • Diana February 11, 2014 at 2:41 am · Reply

      Thanks, Britany! I know it is going to be difficult — at least the three of the four quarters are mentally and physically challenging for me — but I hope to be able to look back on this year and be so proud of what I was able to do for myself. Do it, too! We can have a support group!

  11. Catherine February 11, 2014 at 8:26 am · Reply

    Great post, very honest! Sometimes it takes a while for us to realise that we’re not happy with the way things are, but glad you’ve come to the realisation and are taking steps to change it :) I’m looking forward to following your journey as you get out of your comfort zone!

    • Diana February 12, 2014 at 11:56 pm · Reply

      It is so easy to sink into a routine that is not healthy. Far easier to sink into it than to get out of it, that’s for sure! It is important to me to make some positive changes in my life, and I am excited to see how this project shapes up. I’m only on Day Four, but so far, so good! Thank you so much for the support!

  12. Camels & Chocolate February 11, 2014 at 1:22 pm · Reply

    This sounds like a great project for you to take on, my friend!

    • Diana February 12, 2014 at 11:55 pm · Reply

      Thank you! I am excited and a bit daunted!! :)

  13. Federico February 11, 2014 at 5:47 pm · Reply

    Best of lucks with the project, you have already won just by starting!

  14. Mindy & Ligeia February 12, 2014 at 1:44 am · Reply

    Great job, D! Any time you need a motivational kick in the pants, let us know ;) You’ve got a huge support network!

    • Diana February 12, 2014 at 11:55 pm · Reply

      I will definitely need it!! :) Thank you!!

  15. Sam February 12, 2014 at 3:13 am · Reply

    Hi Diana, I’ve been reading your blog now for a while (first-time commenter though!), and just want to say that I really appreciate your openness and honesty in sharing your ups and downs on your blog! I found myself in a somewhat similar position as you last year when I felt quite stuck in a rut, but now I’m taking steps to get myself out, and I find that writing about it is super helpful to the process! I’m relatively new to the blogging world, but it’s been so fun so far. All my best to you on your journey out of the comfort zone! I’ll be reading :)

    • Diana February 12, 2014 at 11:54 pm · Reply

      Hi Sam! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate your kind words! I’m glad I can provide some openness and honesty to my readers. It is so important for me to know that people who read my blog and want to travel know that life is life, no matter where in the world you are, and that travel does not solve your problems — you solve them yourself. Thanks for being a part of this project with me!

      I checked out your blog — it is great!

  16. Sebastian | Off The Path February 17, 2014 at 5:26 am · Reply

    I can totally relate to you… its not always that easy! All the best for this project. I’m sure you’ll rock it!

    • Diana February 20, 2014 at 12:01 am · Reply

      Thank you, Sebastian!

  17. Kate [Life Outside My Comfort Zone] February 19, 2014 at 3:46 am · Reply

    I can completely understand where you’re coming from (as you may have noticed from my new blog name, I think I’m in the same space as you, in a different way). While I was travelling, I was thinking about the inevitable return to being an expat in New Zealand, where I’d spent 4.5 previously. I loved the small town that I’d be returning to, but knew how easy it would be to slip back into that comfort zone, that rinse-repeat mode. And now that I’m back, I’m so glad that I sorted my head out before returning, although the journey is on-going – Still have to get back into the healthy routines and sussing out adventures, and working out the financial kinks of it all – thus the blog!

    Good luck with your Project. Focusing on yourself and how you want to feel will certainly attract abundance!

    • Diana February 20, 2014 at 12:00 am · Reply

      Thank you so much, Kate! It took me a long time to realize my rut was because I was so stuck in a comfort zone that was so bad for me. I have loved the past two weeks so much since I made this decision to change and work on myself and appreciate things differently. Good luck with your new life, too!!

  18. Laura February 28, 2014 at 5:37 pm · Reply

    I love projects like these to try and challenge and improve ourselves! I’ve learned a lot lately from something I’ve been trying lately – giving up a new thing each month for a year. Best of luck for your new project!

    • Diana March 3, 2014 at 2:29 am · Reply

      That sounds amazing!! Good job!

    • Diana March 5, 2014 at 3:32 am · Reply

      That is really cool! How is that going? Are you adding something new to do when you give something up?

  19. Leigh Shulman March 3, 2014 at 2:22 pm · Reply

    What a fantastic post! It’s not easy to be open and honest about how we feel about our bodies. I know very few women who are actually comfortable where they are, including myself. I don’t think I’ve ever been happy with the way I look, and I’m sure that’s in many ways as much in my mind as it is my body.

    It becomes a habit, and being pregnant has only added another dimension.

    Good luck with the Comfort Zone Project. It’s a wonderful idea. I shall be reading. :)
    xoL

    • Diana March 5, 2014 at 3:31 am · Reply

      Thank you so much, Leigh! I appreciate the support. <3

  20. Pimnipa Kang March 15, 2014 at 10:13 am · Reply

    This is a brand new aspect of the life of a traveler. I have never heard it before. All I’ve ever know is that travelors are so daring, always happy with adventurous life. Your article gives me a new light on thinking about living a life as a travelor.

    Thank you and good luck about this wonderful project. You are so brave to be so open about your thought.

    PS. If you came to bangkok and needed a local guide, you could always contact me. I’m a Thai and would love to take you for a tour around my city!

    • Diana March 16, 2014 at 8:51 am · Reply

      Thank you for the sweet offer, Pimnipa! I would LOVE to take you up on that when I am in the city. I have come to Bangkok so many times, but never really toured it properly.

  21. Marcy April 5, 2014 at 7:12 am · Reply

    Good luck to you on your project! I love to travel (Thailand was my most amazing trip ever), and I have occasionally dreamed of one day being an expat, but I really never considered getting into a rut in the “someplace new.”

    • Diana April 6, 2014 at 12:28 am · Reply

      Thank you so much! I didn’t think it would be possible to get into a rut, either. But, it happened. And now, the all important process has begun to get myself out of it. I am happy to report that I am doing well with this project and getting healthier and happier by the day!

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