Are you too comfortable?

Written by Paul on July 7th, 2008

It takes courage to move out of your familiar boundaries and play on a new field. If you’ve been doing things the same way or have been around for a while, your behavior might feel very risky. But success belongs only to those with the courage to stand by their convictions and risk failure all the way.

In the words of David Cottrell:

Our comfort zones can be the greatest enemy to our potential.

Hiding under the blanket

How many times have you caught yourself making excuses for not trying new things? You rationalize that you don’t have enough time to read a best-selling book that will save you time (and money) in the long run. “But Paul,” you say, “I just don’t have any time – I’m just too busy.” (Generally, you’ll say this to me right after you’ve told me about how awesome the parties were last weekend.)The other day, I was listening to a friend complain (for the hundredth time) about his crappy job. He said he’s constantly stressed out and feels that he isn’t getting paid what he deserves. So I asked if he’d considered finding a new job. His response? “I haven’t updated my resume since I started here. Besides, by the time I get home from work, I’m too exhausted to think about anything.”

Talk about fear of change! All I’m hearing coming out of his mouth are excuses. This guy is so afraid of the unknown that he would rather be miserable every day in a situation that is familiar to him than risk making a change that could possibly lead to career nirvana.

The worst part is that he’s not alone. I bet we all know at least 10 people that are wasting their lives away because they’re too afraid to go after opportunities that could bring them true happiness.

I know what you’re thinking: “Paul, what if I try my hardest and still fail miserably?”

You keep trying, that’s what happens. You go at it from a different angle. You get yourself a goal buddy.

It’s much easier to hold onto what we have now than to risk losing it all by venturing into the unknown. But if you’re clutching your security blanket with one hand, you won’t be able to grasp your full potential.

Here’s what you can do now: Identify one aspect of your life that’s making you unhappy. What are your excuses (ahem, reasons) for staying in that situation? Start looking at these as barriers. Your job is to learn the difference between an artificial barrier and a real one. Here’s an example:

  • Artificial Barrier: “I need money to fund my next project. I can’t do anything without money.” (Laugh at yourself for actually letting this hold you back.)
  • Real Barrier: “My family is important to me, they’ll never understand that I need to work on my new idea for an extra hour every day.”

If you’ve got a real barrier in your way, start brainstorming ways to overcome it. In the example above, I’d sit down with my family and have a talk. If they know what you’re going to be working on, I doubt they’ll have any trouble giving you an extra hour every day. (Better yet, they may offer to help.)

Image Credit: desi.italy

One Response to “Are you too comfortable?”

  • Diana D. Jarvis

    It’s more than just fear. A miserable job does drain your energy, and then you find yourself operating on autopilot going through your daily routine. Think of it as a kind of trance. It can take serious effort to wake up enough to do something different, any departure from the routine. And if you fall in the trap of socializing on break time with coworkers by complaining about how wretched your jobs are, that reinforces the trance.

    — 07/25/08 at 7:42 am

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