Are you in ‘the comfort zone’? - James MacDonald
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Are you in ‘the comfort zone’?

Are you in ‘the comfort zone’?

To be clear, I’m not talking about the ‘four years ago when, after having our first child, I perfected operation: dad bod,  resulting in me being on first name basis with my local drive thru attendants’ kind of ‘comfort zone’. (Although, that’s an equally dangerous ‘comfort zone’ to be in.)

I’m talking about the comfort zone we can each experience in the workplace.

Now, I’m not a life coach, nor am I qualified to be, and I’m not a 19-year-old proclaiming to be a ‘life-coach’, selling an ebook, retreat or seven-step program to a better life. (I personally detest this group of… well, let’s just leave at that.)

Here’s what I am though… I’m a recruiter who helps people who are either in or afraid of being in that ‘comfort zone’.

I make it my business to provide an opinion on what I believe is a very real danger many of us face in our career.

I make it my business to offer practical, experienced-based advice on how I’ve seen people successfully navigate it.

What is this danger I speak off?

We begin our career highly motivated, passionate about growth and keen to kick some major goals. So we work long hours, we #hustle. Then we get ‘good’ at our job, we get ‘good’ at shortening the hours it takes us to do our job, we add a longer lunch break, and we can be seen just ‘going through the motions’. Herein lies… the comfort zone.

Thomas Edison sums it well with his comment:

We shall have no better conditions in the future if we are satisfied with all those which we have at present.

If you are ‘satisfied’ with what you have right now, why bother doing anything to improve your situation, right? Why not just go through the motions? Wrong. Here’s why:

Drive the same way to work every day.

Eat the same thing for lunch.

Crack the same joke in the lunchroom.

Watch the clock like it’s a countdown til home time.

Go home and complain about the same workplace nuances to your family and friends as you did yesterday, and the day before that.

Then set your alarm to do it all again tomorrow.

If that sounds like you, ask yourself: is ‘satisfied’ enough for me?

When you were a kid, did you want to be ‘satisfied’ by what Santa left you under the tree, or did you want to be, “this is the best Christmas ever!”? If a waiter asks you, “how was your meal?”, do you want to answer “I’m satisfied”, or do you want to answer, “That was the best ribeye I’ve had in years.”

‘Satisfied’ and ‘the comfort zone’ are one in the same.

Our experiences vary, but we’ve all been in the comfort zone at some point in time. It is a very real thing and, if we can’t shake it, there are obvious career limiting effects. It leads to boredom and a disconnect with our job. It also leads to missed opportunities and dissatisfaction overflowing to areas of our personal lives.

When I look at job candidates, as I do daily, I look for candidates that have made consistent progression, people who aren’t ok with being ‘satisfied’. Either progression within one company with promotions of title or responsibilities, or someone willing to move to another company to continue their growth. As long as you’re not a job-hopper (i.e., in a different role every two months), companies shouldn’t hesitate in looking favourably at someone who has moved companies to advance their career. After all, if you are good, the company should be providing the right pathways to keep you onboard and support your growth.

If you’re not being challenged in your current role, you’re not growing, and it’s probably time to take a look in the mirror. Start here:

  1. Approach your boss and have a conversation about how your career can grow (I suggest if you’ve been deep in the comfort zone you, may want to show a month’s or more hard work, and a bit of drive before having this discussion.)
  2. Find an industry/company that you really want to work for, a leader that inspires you, and put a plan in place on how you can get to working there (this might include doing some volunteer work/taking a pay-cut or demotion/showing some initiative in helping them out.)
  3. Find a new job. Sometimes ‘the comfort zone’ is ingrained in the company culture and a simple change of scenery will get your career back on a growth path.

 

If you’re sitting in the same job role you’ve been in for the past three years, earning the same pay and are only ‘satisfied’ (or worse), it’s time to do something about it. If you’ve been in the same job, earning the same money, but are stoked with your life and have a great balance then congratulations to you!

As always, if there’s something I can help you with, feel free to get in touch.