I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a creature of habit and I love having routines and sticking to them. Routines can be great because they allow relatively simple tasks to be completed more quickly and efficiently. However, for me, the best part of following a routine is that it allows me to stay within my comfort zone.
So imagine my resistance when a family member suggested that I look into flying from a different airport than I’m familiar with for an upcoming trip. My immediate reaction was to reject this idea and not stray from a travel process I already knew. However, the perk of saving money on the flight from the unfamiliar airport was enough to help me ease out of my comfort zone. Still, I didn’t go easily. I spent a few hours on a Saturday afternoon doing a “trial run” from my apartment to the unfamiliar airport before I finally felt confident enough to book the flight.
This experience made me think about the habits and comfort zones I’ve formed in my day-to-day work. There are plenty of articles and studies that detail how professional growth most often comes when you stretch yourself to a place outside of your comfort zone. As Daniel H. Pink, author of “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” said in a New York Times article, “If you’re too comfortable, you’re not productive. And if you’re too uncomfortable, you’re not productive. Like Goldilocks, we can’t be too hot or too cold.”
Do you continue with the same habits or routines at work simply because they allow you to stay in your comfort zone? Are there new projects you can take on or a class you can enroll in that will help you grow professionally or become more productive? I know how hard it can be to venture out of your comfort zone. If jumping into something completely new is too intimidating, try a trial run like I did to the airport. You may be pleasantly surprised by the growth that comes from stepping outside of your comfort zone from time to time.