The comfort zone – part 2

As soon as I posted my earlier entry on the comfort zone, I realized that I had not done justice to an increasingly important and complex subject. Comfort zones are vitally important in the overall scheme of life, but they are not the be-all and end-all of existence.

For many of us, life is an alternating series of struggles and restpoints. We struggle to establish ourselves in a viable paying job and this may be followed by a brief period in which we enjoy a certain degree of comfort. When we hit one of these comfort zones, we tend to relax and may even kick back a little and enjoy the scenery. This is a perfectly natural reaction.

It’s very important to acknowledge that you have accomplished something worthwhile. Failing to acknowledge your own accomplishments is almost as bad as failing to acknowledge the accomplishments of others, especially children.

So, back to this comfort zone. If you have ever reached one, you know what a sense of relief comes over you when you arrive there and find your stress level dropping to manageable levels.

Some people find a job where they can stay in a comfort zone for very long periods of time. They are extremely fortunate. I know, because I have experienced these happy times myself. When these comfort zone jobs disappear, it’s usually because of external events beyond the control of the group or its manager.

There is a traditional comfort zone, retirement, that many of us will never achieve. It came about in the 20th century because of a particular set of circumstances. A certain number of people found employment with institutions that provided pensions. These pensions together with Social Security afforded the retiree a modest lifestyle and a reasonable degree of comfort.

Some prudent and successful people managed to set aside money during their working careers so they could enjoy the retirement lifestyle pictured in travel magazines. They deserve their retirement lifestyle, as they worked hard to achieve it. However, many find that endless rounds of golf, tennis, and cruises fail to provide the satisfaction that service to others provides.

I will discuss how you might use a comfort zone as a launching pad for future adventures in another post.

In the meantime, how many of you have ever enjoyed life in a comfort zone? What was it like for you?

This entry was posted in Doing What You Love, post-corporate, Working For Others. Bookmark the permalink.

0 Responses to The comfort zone – part 2

  1. andy says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever really been in a comfort zone work-wise, David, and I rather think many careers (or successions of jobs) never experience them; the world of work can be an everlastingly tumultuous place.

    A while back I read an inspiring book: Crossing the Unknown Sea – Work and the Shaping of Identity, by David Whyte. In it he talks about cliff-edge experiences; moments where we find ourselves – or take ourselves – to the very edge. At perilous risk of falling, but also a point of decision or transition where we are forced to make a choice: draw back or to step out into the unknown. I wrote about it here:

    I have mixed feelings about comfort zones in the career context; they can be a place of stagnation, the very antithesis of that cliff edge. On the other hand, they can provide a very necessary safe space in which to be creative, whether that be creating a new future or finding a creative outlet for talents – such as writing.

    It’ll be interesting to read your next post in this series.

  2. Joe says:

    In my short career, I’ve had a couple of times where I truly felt comfortable where I was in life. One thing I’ve learned though, is you can’t attach yourself to that. If you try to hold onto that while everything else around you changes, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. I think it’s better that I learned this now rather than later in life.

    A comfort zone to me is actually a place that lets me grow and change without resistance. I couldn’t see retirement as a time to relax, to me it’s a time to have the freedom to grow without worry. The best jobs I’ve had are the ones that allow me to learn the most and take risks. The more resistance I get, the more my stress levels go up and the more I’m outside of my “comfort zone”.

    Luckily I’m starting a new job in a week that should put me right back in.

    Good posts.

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