Tomas Svitorka On How to Grow Beyond Your Comfort Zone to Grow Both Personally and Professionally

An Interview With Maria Angelova


Know your fears. What stops most people from getting outside of their comfort zone is fear of failing at it. People are very good at catastrophising and imagining all the possible ways things could go wrong. Yet, this is just another “smart” way of our brain keeping us from possible discomfort. I always recommend fact-checking these fears. What we find most often is that the consequences we’re afraid of are extremely unlikely and often quite ridiculous.

It feels most comfortable to stick with what we are familiar with. But anyone who has achieved great success will tell you that true growth comes from pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. What are some ways that influential people have pushed themselves out of their comfort zone to grow both personally and professionally? As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tomas Svitorka.

Tomas is a professional life & performance coach, business mentor, speaker, award-winning entrepreneur, and the founder of OK is NOT enough — the core philosophy he uses to coach professionals and entrepreneurs to help improve their performance and lifestyle way beyond just OK. Tomas has built his reputation through coaching hundreds of clients including industry leaders, billionaire entrepreneurs, Silicon Valley CEOs, rising stars in global corporations and influencers at the top of their game. Tomas is popular for his natural, methodical, down-to-earth, and direct coaching style that he’s refined through thousands of coaching hours, earning a number of coaching accreditations, completing a degree in Psychology, and nearly two decades of studying and practising personal development.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Somewhere in my mid-20s, I realised that I’d been settling for the easy path in life and for “OK” results. I had no idea where I was heading. I had a catering job in an investment bank. Then one day, as I was making yet another sandwich for a well-dressed, well-paid, and confident customer who was not much older than me, something shifted. I was embarrassed and angry with myself for settling for what was easy when I knew I could do so much better.

I decided there and then: I would no longer settle for playing average. OK was NOT good enough anymore. This put me on the path of personal development, striving to be the best I could be. Applying this new drive led me to progress in my career and become a manager, later completing a degree in psychology and ultimately starting my coaching practice with the goal of helping others get the best out of themselves as well.

So I don’t have a tragic story. One day, I just got fed up with playing small and decided that OK was NOT enough anymore. I kept going, and I never looked back.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” ~ Wayne Dyer.

This quote had a profound impact on my life. It made me truly realise the power of being ‘intentional’ with my thoughts and interpretations of the world around and within me. I’ve developed a habit of always looking for opportunities, learnings, lessons, and insights in any situation. The world then became saturated with these things.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I often recommend two books: The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz and Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely. Both books are wonderful, funny, and mind-blowing reads about how and why we make (often bad or irrational) decisions. Fully based on scientific research, the books are full of examples demonstrating the imperfection, irrationality and influenceability of our mind.

I’m obsessed with understanding how the human brain works (and malfunctions). Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a manual, but the advances in brain and behavioural research in recent decades made incredible breakthroughs in understanding how the brain works and how to use it more effectively.

Just imagine; you own the most powerful computer in the world. Wouldn’t you want to know how to use it to its full potential?

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Let’s start with a basic definition so that all of us are on the same page. What does “getting outside of your comfort zone” mean?

Great question. Let’s first define the comfort zone and its role in our life.

In my model, I call the comfort zone ‘The OK zone’. Imagine there are three levels. The OK zone is between a Winning zone (above) and the Rut zone (below). Let me define these zones.

The Winning zone is a great zone to be in. When we’re there, we’re getting the best out our ourselves. Life is exciting and fulfilling. It has buzz and momentum.

The Rut zone, on the other hand, is a painful zone to be in. This is when life gets difficult. In fact, too difficult to tolerate, and we are forced to do something about it. When we’re in a rut, we usually no longer care whether we “feel like” doing something about it or not.

Then we have the OK zone. What many people don’t realise is that we’re drawn to the OK zone because, well, it’s comfortable. Comfort means safety, and safety means survival. Survival is our number one evolutionary drive.

The OK zone (comfort) is great for surviving but not thriving. It’s about convenience, but not fulfilment.

In fact, this is what many of my clients come to me with. They say “I’m doing OK. I’m not happy, but I’m not fulfilled.”

Bonus: There’s a zone within the OK zone, close to the Rut zone, where too many people are stuck. I call it “The Zone of Tolerable Discomfort.” This is where life (or the situation) sucks, but it doesn’t suck enough to do something about it. That is the worst place to be in.

What does getting outside of the OK zone mean? As mentioned earlier, our innate instincts drive us to be as comfortable as possible with the least amount of effort. For the most part, it’s this drive that has fuelled most inventions; to make our life easier.

Getting outside of our comfort zone means disturbing this equilibrium. It may be intentional when we aspire to improve, grow, and reach the Winning zone. For example, by working for a promotion, starting a business, improving our health, and learning new skills. In order to do that, we have to sacrifice some of that comfort in order to try something new. Or we may be unintentionally pushed outside of our comfort zone when life throws us a curve ball, and we drop into the Rut zone. This could be us losing a job, being stuck in one we hate, having a health scare or other challenges.

When discomfort or pain (physical or emotional) gets too big, we do what we have to do to resolve it and get out of the Rut zone. The challenge is that to get into the Winning zone, we have to leave the comfort of the OK zone and voluntarily face discomfort. Most of us want to be in the Winning zone, but the problem is that we don’t have to.

Can you help articulate a few reasons why it is important to get out of your comfort zone?

Nothing in nature stays the same forever. We can get outside of our comfort zone by choice or by force.

Some of the biggest benefits of stepping outside our comfort zone are:

Self-discovery — it’s beyond the boundaries of our comfort where we start discovering who we truly are.

Mindset strengthening — outside of your comfort zone, your mind will play tricks on you to get you back inside. It’s a great opportunity to learn and practice managing your thoughts and emotions and getting them on “your side.”

Confidence boost — there are only a few things that will give you a better confidence boost than doing something new, challenging, and being a better version of yourself.

Levelling up — if you regularly step outside of your comfort zone, you’ll eventually master this new challenge, which will also become your comfort zone. You can do this over and over again and level up in life.

The important questions one needs to ask themselves are:

Do I feel comfortable?

No: Then you’re not in the comfort zone.

Yes: As yourself, the question below.

Do I feel happy and fulfilled?

YES: Great, don’t change anything.

NO: Next question

Is comfort worth sacrificing your happiness and fulfilment?

YES: Then you’re where you want to be.

NO: You must then identify what is missing and strive to progress towards it continually.

Is it possible to grow without leaving your comfort zone? Can you explain what you mean?

Without leaving our comfort zone, we most likely just maintain our current situation.

Imagine you go to the gym and lift weights that are very easy for you to lift. You might maintain your muscle mass, but you’ll certainly not get in great shape.

To get new and better results, we need to add something new into the “mix” which by definition is somewhat outside of our familiar comfort zone.

With that said, it doesn’t need to be any extreme.

I’m a big believer in continuous marginal improvements.

Can you share some anecdotes from your personal experience? Can you share a story about a time when you stepped out of your comfort zone and how it helped you grow? How does it feel to take those first difficult steps?

When I started coaching and building my reputation, I decided to run regular workshops and talks. I knew a lot about personal development but had zero experience with public speaking. I scheduled my first talk and honestly hoped no one would attend. Then 35 people showed up. I was absolutely terrified. My voice, hands, and knees were shaking the whole time, and I thought this was the end of my reputation. But people found the talk valuable. I decided to overcome this fear, and so I did weekly workshops for two years. About 100. Some talks were great. Some were quite bad. But I put myself in that situation over and over again until it just became part of my comfort zone. These days I run half-day workshops for 50–100+ people, and I look forward to it.

Perhaps a more extreme example is my recent Ultramarathon. The race was simple: Run on a 7km countryside loop as far as you can in 7 hours. I’m a passionate runner. In recent years, I’ve completed dozens of half-marathons, several marathons, and a 58km Ultramarathon. Running for 7 hours straight was certainly outside of my comfort zone. But I had a clear plan and a goal to run for the full 7 hours and cover the distance of 70km. It’s amazing to see how your mind tries to do everything it can to stop you from running when it gets difficult when your legs (and everything else) are screaming with pain. This is where one can truly get to know themselves. I finished the race as 2nd out of over 300 runners, running for 7 hours and covering a distance of 70.45km. It’s been one of the most painful, fulfilling, mindset-strengthening and confidence-boosting experiences of my life. I’ve already signed up for a 100 km race in 2023.

Here is the central question of our discussion. What are your “five ways to push past your comfort zone, to grow both personally and professionally”?

Reinvent your comfort zone

Most people’s comfort zone is their “home”. A cushy’n’comfy place where they spend most of their time, maybe occasionally dip their toe outside of it if they have to or if they are forced to. Consider seeing your comfort zone more as a charging station you go back to from the winning zone to recharge your batteries, recalibrate, and rest so you can make another stretch into to winning zone.

Know your fears

What stops most people from getting outside of their comfort zone is fear of failing at it. People are very good at catastrophising and imagining all the possible ways things could go wrong. Yet, this is just another “smart” way of our brain keeping us from possible discomfort. I always recommend fact-checking these fears. What we find most often is that the consequences we’re afraid of are extremely unlikely and often quite ridiculous.

Discomfort training

Humans are extremely good at adapting and getting used to things. When it comes to getting outside of our comfort zone, I call it ‘Discomfort training’. I’ll explain in a little case study.

A few years ago, I worked with a client with extremely low confidence. She was a young, intelligent and attractive woman with all the reasons to feel confident. Yet she didn’t. She wanted to get promoted, but because of her lack of confidence, she simply froze during the interviews. While during the coaching sessions, we worked on her fears, in between the sessions, we agreed on Discomfort training: Every day, she’d do something that was a little bit uncomfortable and update me about it. Her first update was, “I sat next to a stranger on a bus”! But throughout the six months of us working together, she did her discomfort challenge every day. Not surprisingly, the challenges gradually increased. She started speaking up at work, standing up for herself, and stepping up in life. Eventually, she spoke about her transformation during one of my workshops in front of about 40 people. She now has her own business as a Yoga instructor and shares videos on IG with nearly 15K fans.

Glorify Your Winning Zone

Whatever the Winning zone may look like for you, the more irresistible you make it, the more you’ll be pulled towards it. May it be having a business, being fit, being brave, living on your terms, standing up for yourself, wealth, or success of some other shape or form, glorify it! Find as many inspiring examples of it. Study how other people have achieved it. Fantasise about all the ways it would positively impact your life and what you could do with it to impact the lives of other people in your life. The more you’ll feel like your true self is meant to be in the Winning zone, the less attractive and alluring the comfort zone is going to be.

Have the right influence

Pushing yourself past your comfort zone can be difficult. But it will be even more difficult if you try to do it on your own (especially if this is a new thing to you), let alone if you’re surrounded by people who are stuck themselves or are even trying to keep you in your comfort zone. All that is a bad influence.

Bring the right influence into your life in the form of a coach or a mentor who understands and, importantly, is pushing themselves outside of their comfort zone. (You wouldn’t want to learn how to swim from someone who only knows the theory but can’t swim themselves, would you?). Additionally, seek individuals and communities of people who are committed to continually growing and pushing themselves. A coach or a mentor, as well as having ambitious people in your life, will guide you as well as push you outside of your comfort zone.

From your experience or perspective, what are some of the common barriers that keep someone from pushing out of their comfort zone?

Comfort and safety — we are hardwired to seek comfort and safety if we let our mind do its own thing, that is. The problem is that our brain doesn’t care about success, happiness, or fulfilment. It cares about being as little uncomfortable as possible with the least amount of effort. If you let it do its own thing, that’s where it will take you.

Fears — especially the fear of judgement. Humans are social animals, and being accepted by others is yet another strong survival instinct. From my experience, what holds people back most of the time is the fear of making a mistake and others finding out and judging them for it. It’s a form of social rejection, and our brain is terrified of that. However, most of the time, others don’t really care. I’ve had some major speaking flops in front of over 100 people, and nobody remembers it today. It certainly didn’t destroy my career.

Weak Why — There is a saying, “When you have big enough WHY you’ll always justify any HOW. In simple terms, we need to be able to justify why sacrificing our comfort is worth it. We won’t get uncomfortable with something we don’t care about. Find your big WHY!

Motivation Dependence — “I just don’t feel motivated” may be one of the most common excuses stopping people from pushing themselves outside of their comfort zone. While motivation (feeling like we want to do something) is great and real, in reality, we don’t need the motivation to do anything. We can do whatever we need to do completely without motivation, just as we do many things every day. Do you feel motivated to do your chores? No. You just do it because it needs to be done. So why does your personal or professional growth (presumably more important than chores) all of a sudden need the luxury of motivation? I always tell my clients: Give it the same privilege you give to your chores and see what happens.

Lack of Discipline — There is a big difference between wanting something and being absolutely committed to getting it. Most people want success, wealth, fame, recognition, love, and glory. Yet very few are willing to give it what it takes. When we’re disciplined, we’re committed to doing what we set out to do no matter what.

Priorities — Some people simply prefer effortless comfort over effortful happiness and fulfilment.

There is a well-known quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt that says, “Do something that scares you every day”. What exactly does this mean to you? Is there inherent value in doing something that pushes you out of your comfort zone, even if it does not relate to personal or professional growth? For example, if one is uncomfortable about walking alone at night should they purposely push themselves to do it often for the sake of going beyond their comfort zone? Can you please explain what you mean?

This is the fundamental principle of growth. Practising and developing the skill and mental toughness to face something challenging is extremely beneficial as we can benefit from it in many situations.

As a foreigner, I used to be quite hesitant and nervous speaking to new people (in my early 20s). I wanted to overcome this fear, so I decided to spark a conversation with someone new every day. May it be on the street, train, or in shops. At first, I spoke with shop assistants because it was easy. But I quickly started choosing more and more challenging scenarios because it became easier and easier. Once I even gave my friend £100 and would only get it back if I started 25 conversations in one afternoon. I got my money back.

Not only did this help me overcome my fears, but more importantly, it helped me develop overall confidence and courage.

In more general terms, when you frequently do something that scares you or at least find it uncomfortable, you’ll develop and strengthen this overall courage that will allow you to face similar and other challenges more easily over time.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I want to inspire people to be the best they can be rather than settling for average.

My mission is to create a ripple effect of people so successful and fulfilled that they not only create the life that they want but they will also become an inspiration for others to do the same. #OKisNOTenough

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

There are many people I’d love to have lunch with. On top of my list would be either Elon Musk or Eliud Kipchoge.


While recently, Elon Musk may have done a few controversial things, his genius, passion, and grit are undeniable. I highly admire these qualities as well as his hard-to-comprehend achievements. More importantly, his main ventures (SpaceX, Tesla, Solar City) are focused on developing a more sustainable world and making humankind a multi-planetary species. I’m passionate about all these things and would love to ask Elon a few questions about them.

Since I’m a passionate runner, Eliud Kipchoge is a massive inspiration for me. Not only for being the fastest and most consistent marathon runner in the world and the only one running it in under 2 hours but also because of his wisdom, kindness, and unwavering commitment to his goals.

How can our readers follow you online?







Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

About The Interviewer: Maria Angelova, MBA is a disruptor, author, motivational speaker, body-mind expert, Pilates teacher and founder and CEO of Rebellious Intl. As a disruptor, Maria is on a mission to change the face of the wellness industry by shifting the self-care mindset for consumers and providers alike. As a mind-body coach, Maria’s superpower is alignment which helps clients create a strong body and a calm mind so they can live a life of freedom, happiness and fulfillment. Prior to founding Rebellious Intl, Maria was a Finance Director and a professional with 17+ years of progressive corporate experience in the Telecommunications, Finance, and Insurance industries. Born in Bulgaria, Maria moved to the United States in 1992. She graduated summa cum laude from both Georgia State University (MBA, Finance) and the University of Georgia (BBA, Finance). Maria’s favorite job is being a mom. Maria enjoys learning, coaching, creating authentic connections, working out, Latin dancing, traveling, and spending time with her tribe. To contact Maria, email her at To schedule a free consultation, click here.



Maria Angelova, CEO of Rebellious Intl.
Authority Magazine

Maria Angelova, MBA is a disruptor, author, motivational speaker, body-mind expert, Pilates teacher and founder and CEO of Rebellious Intl.