Life in the comfort zone may seem so easy that to think of it as a choice seems bizarre. Make no mistake; though easier at times, choosing comfort over risk is in fact a choice. For instance, you could always quit your job and accept the consequences. The choice to quit may lead to bankruptcy, the inability to provide for your family, and homelessness, whereas choosing to remain employed would offer financial security and allow you to buy groceries for your family as well as pay your mortgage. In that case, the choice to remain employed is a “no-brainer.” On the other hand, if quitting would not have such a detrimental effect and you find the financial loss worth the time to develop other parts of your life, you may decide that entering the risk affords you opportunities that offset the economic blow.
Some low-risk, day-to-day examples that can bring you into the risk/learning zone may include:
· ordering an item on a menu that you do not normally eat
o potential risk: dissatisfaction with dinner
o learning/growth opportunity: trying something new
· giving up a good parking spot to go to a concert with friends
o potential risk: losing the parking spot
o learning/growth opportunity: hearing a new band
· taking on a new responsibility at work
o potential risk: higher stress level; poor performance
o learning/growth opportunity: new skill set
· going on vacation even though you “don’t have the time”
o potential risk: putting tasks off for a week or rushing to
o learning/growth opportunity: experience something new;
relax; have fun
· skipping the gym to see your son’s soccer game
o potential risk: weight gain; lethargy; feeling unhealthy
o learning/growth opportunity: foster relationship with son
The choices that lead you to engage in life by entering the risk/learning zone are endless and depend on your values.
Of course, as Ilgner (2006) reminds the reader, foolish risks are also not advisable. He discusses that a proper risk assessment of a climb includes analyzing the route, the fall consequence, and the climber. To expand the model to non-climbing circumstances, a thorough risk assessment involves an objective cost-benefit analysis of the choice at hand, paired with an understanding of your ability to pursue the consequences of that decision and the subsequent journey. After obtaining a clear vision of what the risk entails, a decision can be made and the path can be followed.
Once the choice is made to engage with life and move away from the comfort zone, the time comes to commit to the decision with full and deliberate attention. Fear and the general allure of comfort will try to seduce you back into the comfort zone. Consequently, the commitment to engage in life is a daily choice. Are your daily decisions based on comfort or are you actively choosing to live each moment in a way that you desire? What about bigger lifer choices? Pay attention to comfort and risk zones as well as the forces that pull you toward either of those zones.