When ‘work’ is in your comfort zone

  • by helga
  • 31/03/2013

At the beginning of 2013 I’ve done a little exercise, straight out of a small book published by the School of life (if you’d tell me 10 years ago that I would be reading these so called ‘self-help’ books, I’d laugh out loud – and perhaps slightly nervously…).

The exercise consists of drawing one circle, at the centre of which you write activities you usually do  that are in your comfort zone. That is, the things that you are absolutely comfortable with doing, without requiring much effort, and without usually posing any unexpected emotional, professional or physical challenge.

Then you draw two concentric circles around this central one, where you write down, in order of magnitude, things that are outside of your comfort zone but that nevertheless you really want to do in a near future.

My central circle looked like this:

  • Cooking (that’s right, I have another blog for that, albeit not updated very regularly)
  • Going to the pub with friends
  • Watching films
  • Shopping (despite not of the stereotypical sort – I hate shopping for clothes)
  • Work
  • Observing (a trait of my usual engaged-but-fairly-passive stance)

Then I read the full list again of comfort zone and out-of-comfort-zone activities (which in this image I took the care of blurring out as it includes more personal stuff as well) and realised, somehow awkwardly, that ‘work’ was in my comfort zone.

Going to work, in my comfort zone? Really? What does this mean? Is ‘work’ now something comfortable, that doesn’t challenge me on a regular basis, and that doesn’t require any particular effort beyond the time I put into it daily? I reckon that this could have positive interpretations, but very negative ones too.

I’m not even going into the debate around work as a very recent, very charged western concept that imposes this idea of ‘paid employment’ as an absolute definer of our individual worth. What bothers me more is acknowledging that my work could be simply stagnating,  not anymore a tool for personal growth and contribution to society in general – like what I thought ‘work’ should be in my youth years at school and at uni (when preparing for the ‘real work’).

If ‘work’ becomes simply a ‘business as usual’ activity, which I carry on with without pushing it outside my comfort zone, then I’m spending over 8 hours per day in NOT being as creative, innovative or even as useful as I could be. Spending 8 hours every weekday on one activity/business alone (‘paid employment’, corporate cliques and marketing niches) seems a pretty bad idea to start with, but hey – that’s the norm we’ve apparently arrived to.

I decided that I should do something about it. So, at the beginning of 2013, I defined a set of projects/activities outside my comfort zone which I wanted to invest time and effort into, rather than just keep pushing them to the back of my mind. They involve different types of paid and unpaid work, and money is not a definer of their worth.

I must stress that it’s not just about balancing the ‘work-life’ duo either. Work is as much part of  life as anything else you do. Wouldn’t it be scary to get into this position brilliantly described in The OnionFind The Thing You’re Most Passionate About, Then Do It On Nights And Weekends For The Rest Of Your Life… ?

But I digress… I guess this post was never very focused to start with!

What I wanted to announce today was a new template in the Goodies section and  a few further small changes to the website. Hopefully, I’ll be able to dedicate more time to it in the coming months, and start doing some marketing to get more client referrals. The more it grows, the more side-projects I can deliver alongside. More on these side-projects to follow soon.

A Good Easter to everyone 🙂

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