I like to occasionally examine my comfort in life in different areas, especially socially and professionally. And it’s not because I want to make sure I’m nice and comfy – quite the opposite. If I’m not pushing my comfort zone in these areas then I’m not growing. If I’m not growing then I’m content with mediocrity. If I’m content with mediocrity then I’m letting time pass and simply waiting out my days left on this planet.
New Zealand is full of some serious hiking and with serious hikes come seriously long conversations. On day 4 of 5 at Abel Tasman Tom, Jess, and I were ranking our favorite years at Stanford. This was very hard considering we had more fun than is legal. Seriously, some of the stuff was illegal. By examining my 4 years, there was one that comparatively stood out as the worst – my sophomore year. The year before I had established my friends and gotten to know my team and fraternity. And then I comparatively coasted socially through sophomore year, not branching out as much, sticking more to my comfort zone.
I’m not the most outgoing person in the world, but I’ve come to realize that it makes me happy to make new friends. Even though I love my current friends and it might be uncomfortable, I know that I am much happier when I push my comfort zone socially.
Professionally it is also extremely important to constantly learn new things and take risks. If you’re not innovating then someone else is. If you’re not learning new skills and making yourself replaceable in your current role, someone else will. There’s no such thing as staying in the same place. If you’re not advancing those around you are, meaning you’re going backwards.
Two years ago in NYC I shared a cab with a guy from the hotel all the way out to the airport. In rush hour. It took almost 2 hours to get there so I got to know the guy pretty well (and unfortunately can no longer claim I’ve never missed a flight). His career advice: get fired at least once. This wasn’t coming from a slacker – dude knew what’s up. His reasoning: you have to pursue your ideas with gusto in order to make it to the top. You might get fired for having ideas that clash with management or taking too big of risks. So be it. There will be another company that will value the mistakes of action of a young go-getter.
I suppose the guy in the cab took this principle to the extreme. Taking risks is good, pushing the comfort zone is great. But let’s not get too crazy about it! The best way I’ve found to look at it – how comfortable am I? Am I being challenged?
Other areas this applies: physically, financially. More?