In general, most of us need to feel safe and have a sense of comfort in our lives. We create daily routines, buy nice houses, and avoid things that can be harmful to us. But at some point we end up putting ourselves into a little box—closing ourselves off from the beauties and adventures this life has to offer.
To put it into perspective, we all hate going through the invasive security protocol at the airport. Yet we accept it because we know it’s necessary for the safety of everyone. But there’s a fine line we straddle in such situations. For instance, if the TSA gets a little too personal with our bodies—safety be dammed,—we’re not taking it.
The same applies to our lives at home and work. Unfortunately, we tend to blind ourselves to fact we often cross the line of being too safe and too comfortable, and therefore have forgone the process of actually living. Not sure what I mean? Don’t worry, I’ll elaborate for you.
Tell me if this sounds familiar: you wake up, go through your morning routine, go to work, come home, take care of after work chores, watch TV or wind down some other way, go to sleep, then repeat the whole process each day until the weekend or your day off arrives. How many years have you been in this or a similar cycle?
You’ve probably given little thought to how much time you’ve actually wasted in this seemingly infinite loop of mundane bullshit. Now, I’m not saying your life is bullshit because you work, have a home and a family, and go on one or two vacations a year if you’re lucky. Hell, I’m stuck in the exact same loop myself. But there’s more to life than being comfortable.
What I’ve been doing the last few years is extremely boring but necessary for the future I want: I’ve been studying various aspects of writing, philosophy, history, and art. It’s not that I don’t enjoy these things, but certain parts—like going back and relearning the basic rules of grammar—aren’t very fun or rewarding.
The thing is, I must do these things if I want to improve my life in the way I want. After all, I’d like to have a more rewarding occupation in the future. One that I look forward to waking up to do. But that doesn’t come without sacrifice. And that sacrifice is my comfort zone.
I know, it’s not like I sold all my stuff, moved to Indonesia, and took a job as a local fisherman so I could learn what it really means to struggle and be alive or some other pointless intellectual endeavor. But I have stepped out of my comfort zone and forced myself to do things I never thought I would or could. And that’s been highly rewarding.
For instance, a few years ago I sought out freelance writing work even though I never really written anything of substance before that. I always wanted to be a writer but never took the steps to learn the craft. Yet here I was one day, diving head first into paid writing.
It all started when I saw that a fitness site I followed accepted article ideas. I didn’t like what they were posting at the time and felt I could do better. So, I did. On a whim, I emailed them my idea for a piece. I wrote it for free and the article immediately went viral. They took me on as a paid writer right after that. All because I took a chance.
I wrote about fifty articles for them and eventually grew restless with writing such specific content. I wanted to move on. So I took another step and started what I really wanted to do; fiction writing. I spent about a year writing and submitting to various publications. I had no idea what I was doing, but I kept learning as I went.
Then I ended up taking on another, more professional freelance job at a different fitness site. I took this opportunity so I could learn how to create, publish, and market content for websites. Again, I got way out of my comfort zone by working with dozens of more experienced writers and editors. For me, that job was like getting called up to the big leagues.
I had no idea what I was doing. I never dealt with formatting, taking directions from editors, or working with any of the software they used. The writing gig I had before was simply turning in the work. This was a whole new level of responsibility. And I was really nervous about taking on the job.
But again, I dove right into the deep end and learned how to swim. Eventually I would write several viral articles and did very well. At some point the company sold and I was done with fitness writing. But not before I learned everything I could. And that’s when I used the money and knowledge I received from the experience and created this site.
The creation of this site was a whole new level of work for me. I had to create everything from scratch and learn how to promote it properly. And surprisingly, it didn’t take very long to get the hang of it. Even better, it has led to some opportunities I never imagined.
I’m an introvert. I don’t like big crowds or talking to people. But I knew if I wanted to be a writer I’d have to learn. So, I figured the best way to learn would be to step out of my comfort zone and try something crazy. A month after I started this site I contacted Wizard World Comic Con and told them I wanted to do press coverage at their upcoming Pittsburgh show. And because I looked and acted professional, they said yes!
I was really nervous. I had no clue how to cover an event. And even worse, I got sick as hell the day before the show, but I went anyway and did my best. Which worked out great because we were able to cover the show in Cleveland a few months later.
For that show I got DPW co-creator, Spencer Church, to come on board and he got a press pass too. And while I can’t speak for him, I know he definitely sprinted out of his comfort zone with all the stuff we’ve been doing. And that’s how you really create rewarding life experiences.
I didn’t mean to go on an on about myself so much, but I wanted to show you that getting out of your comfort zone isn’t just doing one crazy thing that shakes up your whole life. If anything, it’s a series of small, planned out things that change the course of your destiny. After all, you don’t cross the median on the highway to go the opposite direction. You get off an exit and make a series of calculated turns to go that way.
And that’s exactly how life goes. Sure, you can just run away and make a radical decision to start a new life somewhere else. But without planning and taking the necessary steps, you’ll most likely fail miserably and end up selling crack out of a dirty van. Trust me, that’s not the kind of change you want to make.
My advice to you is that it’s okay to be afraid to change your life and pursue what you’re passionate about. But you must overcome that fear and do it anyway. You must get out of your comfort zone and work for the progress you want to make. But start small; you don’t need to dive into the center of the ocean. Ease yourself into the water first.
If you can, forgo your evening TV time to study or work towards a dream. Wake up an hour early and do the boring stuff required to get good at something. Use your lunch break at work to hit the gym and nail your daily fitness goals. Whatever it is you want to do in life, you can. You just need to step out of your comfort zone and take it one step at a time. You can do it. It just takes effort!
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