by Candace Doby
[ Candace is a marketing professional who loves all things inspirational. She blogs at www.365Bold.com to inspire travelers to be bold on their journey to realizing dreams and discovering purpose. You can also follow her on her Facebook Page. ]
Nothing hinders personal growth like unexamined comfort. Comfort persuades people to stay in relationships, careers, and cities they’ve outgrown. Persistent comfort is, arguably, one of the most power forces behind dreams deferred, risks not taken and life unexplored.
I had a bad case of comfort for a good portion of my young adulthood. His name was James. Despite a short courtship and relationship, he became etched in my memory rather easily. We maintained a friendship over the years, shared tales of life’s ups and downs, and found comfort in our familiarity with each other. James was brilliant, funny, and charismatic. Though I knew he wasn’t right for me at the time, I secretly wished we’d end up together. I held onto that hope for several years waiting for our potential to turn kinetic. I dated while I waited, but my level of comfort with James prevented me from getting close to other guys. Unlike them, I knew what James was about. I found comfort in knowing his habits, mannerisms, ideologies, and interests. I knew his family and his friends.
But one day, discomfort struck.
At the end of a normal, routine conversation with James about our day, he rather causally revealed that he had no plans to cultivate our friendship into something deeper. With the end of the call came the end of my secret dream. “What just happened?” It was the thought that lingered in my head followed by feelings of embarrassment, discomfort and anger. I was mad at myself for failing to ask questions and engage in serious dialogue with him earlier. I put it off to protect my sense of comfort, but delaying the truth didn’t change it.
Being uncomfortable isn’t easy. It’s unfamiliar and can be painful. But it is often accompanied by opportunities of discovery that can pass us by in a state of habitual comfort. When we’re comfortable in a job, we likely don’t pay attention to or seek out other job openings. When we’re comfortable in a city and familiar with its landscape, we usually don’t consider moving. And when we’re comfortable in a relationship, even if it’s unhealthy or stagnant, we don’t typically rush to get out of it.
Moving forward, however, will likely require us to be uncomfortable. We will be forced to step outside of our comfort zone to seek truth and discover ourselves. And once we make discoveries, time will likely transport us to a new place of comfort. After which, we might find ourselves at yet another point of discomfort. The impermanence of these conditions is necessary for growth, and residing in either too long can delay or prevent us from developing into our fullness.
Introspection can be a great way to help us identify what space we’re in and understand if change is needed. The first step involves taking an inventory of our lives by asking relevant questions and answering honestly. Am I growing in my career? Does my relationship add or take away from my peace of mind? Am I challenging myself in my current location in life? Am I working towards my goals? Do I have goals? Am I afraid of change? This exercise, when executed thoughtfully, should give us several pieces of information related to where we are and where we want to be. So, the next step is to use that information to begin making adjustments, if necessary. Failing to make changes after recognizing that changes need to be made only perpetuates comfort and delays discovery of the truth. Therefore, it is important to get moving once we uncover specific areas of development that require attention. This could include taking a class at a local community college for additional training, having an honest conversation with a mate, seeking opportunities to exhibit a talent, or writing down goals and keeping a current journal to document progress.
When we begin addressing fear and comfort, we simultaneously invite opportunity to visit us. In my case, letting go of James was uncomfortable, to say the least, but a new, beautiful opportunity named Maurice surfaced in my discomfort.