This is a post in drafts from 2012 that was apparently a response to a 2010 Get Rich Slowly post that no longer exists entitled, “Break out of your comfort zone to achieve success.” I think it’s still true and I might as well post it as is! Plus I guess a lot less seems scary at middle age that might have felt more uncomfortable as a young adult?
I’ve been out of my comfort zone before and I’ve examined what other people do in my field to succeed (hint: perseverance and moxy are more important than talent).
Right now though I’m more interested in doing what I want than in getting ahead, but the advice in the post might have matched an earlier point in my career and will probably match a later point.
Getting out of your comfort zone can be time consuming and tiring… there’s something to be said for slow and steady comfortable progress too. Moderation in all things (including moderation).
Are you currently working on getting out of your comfort zone or are you more into staying comfortable right now?
February 27, 2023 at 6:46 am
I think there’s a difference between comfort zone and follow-through that’s worth teasing out. And also a question of how you define success.
I can look at my 20s and early 30s self and say that I had a lot of status quo things that I was used to doing that created and continued things in my life that I wasn’t happy with. It wasn’t comfortable, exactly, but it was a familiar discomfort. Getting to the life I have now took deciding that the familiar, easy discomfort wasn’t something I wanted to keep living with. I had to push myself to do different things, think different thoughts. Some of which was an uncomfortable, uphill effort. But it also took (and still takes) a lot of follow-through.
I think that consistency in follow-through can become comfortable– it’s nicer if it becomes comfortable, if it’s a good thing in your life. I don’t think that’s the same as hiding out in your comfort zone and not achieving success, though.
Right now… I’d say that in work and finances, I’m mostly good with where I’m maintaining follow-through. I love what I do, and I’m (finally!) heading back towards a pre-pandemic annual income. In my personal life, I’m happy in my marriage and in my kid as she is right now… though I continuously worry about whether or not I’m doing the things I should do to set her up for a decent life of her own. In terms of long-term successes to pursue… I’d say the main thing I need to work on right now is physical. I’ve been slouching downwards since about July, and I need to get back into working on strength, endurance, and doing generally healthy things.
February 27, 2023 at 10:16 am
I read an interesting blog post last year by a school teacher who felt that the pandemic had pushed her permanently out of her comfort zone. I think a lot of people can relate to that. I am very much out of mine at the moment due to difficult personal circumstances, and I would say there’s a difference between pushing yourself out of your comfort zone in specific areas of your life as a deliberate choice to challenge yourself, and being out of your comfort zone because of circumstances beyond your control. The former is exciting, if scary, the latter just draining. But I think Alice also makes a good point about familiar discomfort, that perhaps we put up with stuff that’s not really comfortable because the effort required to change is too much, or we can’t see how to do so. There was a lot of stuff in my twenties and early thirties that I definitely should have resisted, but only realise that now with hindsight.
February 27, 2023 at 10:25 am
February 27, 2023 at 10:33 am
I have taken on a huge non-work project that has turned out to be a little too far out of my comfort zone. Maybe it will feel okay when it’s all over, but the stress level around here is pretty high right now. And I feel guilty complaining about it because it was totally voluntary and something I’ve always wanted to do. Big learning experience, but unlikely to be repeated.
February 28, 2023 at 7:23 pm
As someone who had never served on a nonprofit board and then quickly found myself as president of said board — I can so relate to this CG. I’m stressed and exhausted.
February 27, 2023 at 5:00 pm
I’ve spent most of my career pushing to grow and earn more, pushing for promotions and big raises. In my current job, where I’ve been a long time (for me), I’ve been growing my money within one job but not looking to grow in my position for the past five-ish years.
Doing the Lakota project is something that pushes me partly out of my comfort zone as a person. I don’t like asking people for help, but I have learned to handle asking for help for other people. I’m still uncomfortable with fundraising but I tolerate that to help folks.
As for life stuff, I’m not willing to go very far outside my comfort zone because frankly the pandemic has used up all my bandwidth.
February 27, 2023 at 7:47 pm
I feel no stress doing this outside of work. I love learning new things and it energizes me. At work, I’d say I did it regularly for the first half of my career as my employer encouraged staff change jobs every couple of years and if you didn’t, you got dinged for it. I got used to it and I did it enough times to know that you feel like an idiot the first 3 months and then it gets better. The culture of the company that bought us was the polar opposite and didn’t want people to move into new roles ever. It caused a lot of people to leave the company but it was also around the time I had kids, so The timing was good for me.
I regularly wonder what I will be like once I don’t have kids and a geriatric parent to take care of at home. Will I start throwing myself in the deep end again or will I be so tired that I just want it easy. I hope I won’t be totally spent and a short break will rev me up again.
I do wholeheartedly believe that one of the fastest ways to learn is indeed to get out of your comfort zone. I hate feeling like an idiot so I will immerse myself in whatever topic it is until I have at least a passable working knowledge of it. How does one know their limit if they never test it?
March 1, 2023 at 1:41 pm
“Right now though I’m more interested in doing what I want than in getting ahead”
March 1, 2023 at 2:02 pm
I would really appreciate a whole lot less rejection though.