I’m comfortable, but what about exceptional?
My life right now is what I would consider good, in fact, it may be what many aspire to. I do the kind of work I’m interested in. My income isn’t huge, but I’m not constrained by it. My exercise routines and health are relatively good. I have close friends and family. Nothing exceptional, but certainly sustainable.
I could live like this, or similarly, for a long time. At least another 5 to 10 years until a significant other is able to pin me down. Yet, there’s an interesting dichotomy playing out. While my lifestyle is relatively stable, I’m certainly not pushing myself. I’d be the first to openly admit I’m deep in my comfort zone.
Staying in your comfort zone makes it hard to get out.
Comfort, of course, isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, I’m feeling interesting side effects. For example, the longer I remain comfortable, the less inclined I am to try new or interesting ideas. The idea of being uncomfortable, since I haven’t experienced it lately, is especially daunting. Why push myself when I could simply avoid them and keep on as is?
It’s a dangerous mindset to enter. If there were a significant change, which is likely over time, I might face lots of mental resistance getting myself there. In addition, there’s a good chance I’m getting by while leaving a huge amount of potential on the table. Yes, I might be content, but there’s value in overcoming obstacles and achieving more (especially when it matches your ambition like it does for me).
Is my comfort adding to my life story?
Without heavy challenges, I don’t feel as though I’m adding anything significant to my life story. I can’t look back on the last month or two and point to anything I’ve made serious progress in. That signals to me I’m simply existing, instead of finding fulfillment. Of course, I’m grateful as turmoil and chaos could rule my daily experience. Once you escape that, however, there’s much more upward trajectory to be found.
So, why speak about this instead of simply doing something about it? I think the idea of comfort hiding opportunity is commonplace. Comfort allows us to hide within its boundaries and avoid difficult tasks. For example, I knew I wanted to work on my own projects for several years, but was comfortable with my job. I allowed that comfort (and some other self-defeating narratives) to prevent my transition. When I finally quit that job, it was terrifying. Fast forward, and I’m significantly more fulfilled and happy.
Had I listened to the voice of comfort, I would have stayed in the exact same position, likely doing the same work. It would have been comfortable but at the cost of reaching a higher rung on my potential for happiness. Having identified myself in a similar position now, I’m evaluating choices for cranking up the difficulty of my life and tackling a new, invigorating project.
Do your actions match your desires?
The point of the article is not to push you into more difficult challenges. It’s about taking a hard look at what you’re doing, what you want to do, and what you could be doing – then reconciling them. For me, I have incredibly high aspirations, but my actions over the last several months (and if we’re being honest years) don’t map onto my aspirations well at all. I’ve identified comfort as one of the aspects holding me back.
There’s also a good chance you can work toward your goals while being comfortable. Many individuals have found a nice cadence between achieving their goals and pushing the boundaries of their comfort zone. For example, perhaps you’re a husband whose primary goals are having a steady income and a stable family life. While it will take some work, you may be able to be more comfortable than someone who wants to build a billion-dollar business and hasn’t started yet. Different goals require different levels of comfort.
A few things to think about.
As I work to overcome this challenge and push myself into new and difficult situations, I wanted to provide you with the same sort of reflection. Perhaps your actions map exactly to the person you want to become. If that’s the case, bravo! If not, however, you may want to look at comfort as one of the aspects holding you back. Usually, the more often we’re willing to be uncomfortable, the more we grow and learn. We have to be honest with ourselves about what we want and how hard we’re willing to work to get there.
- How comfortable are you in your current life?
- Is that comfort allowing you to reach your goals or do you need to face some uncomfortable situations first?
- What opportunities are available to you but might require being uncomfortable?