All of us suffer from the same malady: we’re human. As humans, we’re extremely comfortable with our routines. We’re reassured by the fact that we know what happens next; that we have a good idea of how things are going to work. We like it when things go according to plan; we’re happy when our lives play out exactly like we think they will. And we’re stressed whenever someone throws a monkey wrench in the works of our day-to-day schedule. We don’t do well when things interrupt the process.
Nothing ever goes as planned. That’s why it’s a plan, not a certainty.Anonymous
It’s perfectly reasonable that we take comfort in our well-worn habits. If every second of every day was a rollercoaster ride, without any rhyme or reason, it’s quite likely that the stress would kill us in short order. We need routine to keep us alive, to get us through the day. The well-worn path of our lives helps us navigate the world in which we live.
But the fact that we’re beholden to our routines can itself throw a monkey wrench into things. Because we’re so resistant to change, so hesitant to buck the trend, so opposed to upsetting the apple cart, our reluctance can keep us from trying something new. Our resistance to doing something outside the norm is one of the main things that holds us back.
The fact is that by trying so hard to keep that same level of comfort in our lives, keeping things status-quo, we often end up holding ourselves back from opportunities to grow. We become so focused on the fact that we’re comfortable right where we are that we fail to take advantage of opportunities. We often end up being our own worst enemy, failing to use our talents to their fullest simply because we’re afraid of taking chances.
Why should I try something new when what
I’m doing right now is working just fine?
Eventually, we all reach the same point in our lives: we all wonder if this is it; is this all there is. Have we gone as far as we can? Have we reached the top of our career, have we grown as much as we can in our field, have we reached the peak?
For some of us, the answer will be a resounding “Yes!” And for some people, that’s all they need to hear.
I’m the best (insert your career here) there is,
and that’s exactly where I want to be.
Some of us are content with being the best home inspector in town, and we’ll keep plugging away, providing our clients with the best inspection their money can buy. We’re perfectly content in our position, and that’s that. We’ll never even give it a second thought, as we’re perfectly happy being the best at what we do.
And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that; nothing wrong with being the best you can be.
If you’re happy with where you are in your career, and in your life, more power to you! You’ve reached what the rest of us are still trying to find: happiness and contentment.
Honestly, I envy your position. To achieve the peace and serenity that comes with being content in your life is a rare quality. Savor every minute of every day, as you’ve achieved a goal that everyone aspires to, but few ever reach.
But, if you’re like me, you’ve yet to achieve that level of stillness in your mind. You’re constantly wondering “Is this all there is?”
Many people go through life wondering if they’ve reached their peak; if they’ve done all they can; if they’ve advanced as far as they can possibly go. We’re torn between the comfort of our routines and the desire to know how far we can push the envelope.
Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.Chinese proverb
It’s difficult enough to make changes in our lives; it’s even more difficult to make changes when things are already going well. We reason that we’re already doing OK, we’re in a comfortable position, why would we want to upset the apple cart?
Well, what are we supposed to do if we’ve already had our fill of those apples?
Eventually, we all reach a point in our lives where we’ve got to decide if what we’re doing is enough. Are we content with the status quo, happy with where we’re at, satisfied with what we’ve accomplished? Or, deep down, do we know that we can do more? We may have reached some level of success, but have we achieved all that we’re capable of?
Most of us, if we’re being honest with ourselves, would answer “No” to that last question. Most of us never even come close to reaching our true potential. We achieve a certain level of accomplishment, and we’re content with that success.
We relax, happy in the knowledge that we’ve reached our comfort level. We’re not interested in growth anymore; we’re not even interested in trying; we’ve settled down. We’re here; we’re good; we’re done.
But for those of us who aspire to more, it’s a constant battle. Do we give up the comfort of what we already have, a position where we’ve already scaled the mountain, where we’ve reached the peak of professionalism, where we are the model of the position for everyone else to follow?
Are we crazy enough to simply throw all that away to start something new?
That’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it? Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. There is no one we can call, no website we can turn to, no magic eight ball that we can consult to tell us if we’re making the right decision.
When Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of college to try to build software, people likely thought he was crazy to throw away the chance at a Harvard degree. When Henry Ford left his job as Chief Engineer at Thomas Edison’s Illuminating Company of Detroit to try to start a car company, his family probably thought he was insane to leave such a good paying position. When Christopher Columbus tried to convince monarchs to sponsor his expedition across the unchartered seas in search of new trade routes, he and his ridiculous fantasies were likely laughed out of the royal court.
Why would someone want to throw away comfort and security? What are they thinking? What could possibly motivate someone to leave the refuge of their routine, the safety of their current life, to venture out into the unknown?
I would guess that many people thought Zuckerberg, Ford and Columbus were crazy. Just as may of our friends and family consider us to be crazy when we attempt to make a change in our career.
And maybe they’re right.
But some of us do it anyway.
If you’ve ever regretted not taking a chance, if you’ve ever decided not to roll the dice, if you’ve ever been Charlie Brown and missed out on your chance to tell the little red-head girl that you liked her, then you’re just like the rest of us.
You’re not special.
You’re not unique.
You’re not alone.
You’re simply human.
We’ve all been in your shoes. We’ve all had opportunities to take that chance, to step out of our comfort zone, to do something that we always longed to do, but long feared doing.
All too often, we fail without even trying.
We’ve failed to take the chance. We didn’t think that we’d be successful. We didn’t think we could pull it off. We weren’t sure we could do it. We failed to step out onto the ledge and take that leap of faith. We settled for the comfort of our routine and simply let the opportunity pass us by.
And, like Charlie Brown, we’re bound to spend our lives second-guessing ourselves. We go through life wondering “What if?”
What if we had taken that chance? What if we had said something? What if we had taken the leap into the unknown?
There’s no way to know what would have happened to us if we had taken that chance. We may have succeeded or we may have failed. We’ll never know the answer to most of the burning questions that keep us up at night. Those missed opportunities are gone, only to live on in our thoughts and regrets.
Heads-down determination is important, but not if it blinds you to what you could or want to be doing with your time instead.Dr. Peter Attia
But, what about this time? What about the chance we have now? What about the opportunity that’s right in front of us, staring us in the face, asking “What are you going to do this time?”
Are we going to do what almost everyone does, and choose the safe path? Are we going to opt for comfort and security over uncertainty? Do we fall back on the familiar, and just sit there as yet another opportunity passes us by?
Only we can answer that question. Only we can decide what’s best for us, our family or our situation. No one can make that decision for us, nor should they. It’s up to us to decide what we’re going to do. It’s up to us to weight the facts, to compare our options, to look at the available evidence and come to the conclusion that seems best.
Sometimes we’ll know for certain we made the right choice. Sometimes we’ll figure out much later that we did the wrong thing. Sometimes we’ll live out our entire lives wondering whether or not we made the right decision.
That’s simply part of being human. We can’t see the future. We can’t change the past. We simply must play the hand we’ve been dealt, weigh our options, make our choices and let the chips fall where they may.
It’s up to us decide what we’re going to do: stick with the comfort of our routines or venture out into the unknown. It’s entirely on us.
Let me know how you do.
On a personal note, most of you probably don’t know that I write these articles for a few different reasons, with one of them being for my own personal edification. Many of these articles are written to prop me up, to reassure me or to motivate me to get something done. The fact that they may help my audience in some way is certainly a bonus, but often, like today, they’re written encourage me to find my motivation, to move me to face my fears and take on a challenge. To push me out onto that ledge and force me to take that step that I so fear to take; to venture into the unknown.
I just wanted to let you know that I’ve decided to take the plunge. I’ve decided to sell the home inspection franchise that I’ve run for the past 10 years. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but I’ve done it. I’m trading safety and security to venture into the unknown. It’s been a good ride, but I feel that’s it’s time for me to move on to bigger and better things. Wish me luck in my new endeavors.
I’ll let you know how I do…
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