I was told that settling is the worst thing I can do to forward my career. I agree. A lot of us experience this temptation daily, especially when we become contented with our work (and the pay). I believe that we should keep growing and keep looking towards the next step in our career. As long as we’re not interested in our work, at least.
The two zones
Just as settling can cause us to stunt our growth, it can also fuel our desire to grow. It all depends on where you settle, and what you settle for. Settling in your comfort zone is different from staying within your passion zone. I would dare to say that settling in your comfort zone is a result of fear. Fear of moving out of it and moving into the uncertain. I’d go as far as saying that maybe you don’t know what your passion is yet, so you feel that this comfort is affirming. And because you may not really be interested in what is in your comfort zone, growth may be stalled.
The other side of the story is that we can also settle in our passion zone. Staying within our passion zone also gives us comfort–not because of fear, but because things come naturally. Also, unlike settling in the comfort zone, we know what we want and we know why we enjoy doing it. We don’t feel like we need to move out of it. We don’t need anyone or anything else to motivate us to stay in there. Most importantly: we want to keep growing in it, because we love it.
The difference in the way we react to challenges within the 2 zones is apparent: in the comfort zone, we whine, in the passion zone, we strive to overcome. Whining is tiring, so when this happens, it’s time to re-evaluate our career and see if we’re settling in the right zone for the right reasons. Most often then not, we’re not.
Finding your place
How can we tell if we’re in the right zone? My cousin gave me 2 very good methods (thanks Kuya Kris):
1) Namesake exercise – this exercise is for short term only. Try and think of what makes you happy. Not excited, not giddy, just happy. Aim to do that. If you find that you aren’t happy with that anymore, look to the exercise below:
2) Eulogy exercise – think of what you want people to say at your funeral. Will you care if they said you were the most horrible sales person on earth? Would you care if they called you the most innovative thinker? Would you prefer they refer to you as an analytical person or a people person? That will tell you what kind of legacy you want to leave on earth. I’m 100% positive that that is your passion.
The danger of pursuing our passion is falling into the trap of discontentment. We may get so used to the ups that we get severely discouraged with the downs. I experience this a lot, and the Eulogy exercise helps keep me in check. It’s a matter of assuring yourself that both the ups and downs are part of working on your passion. Nothing comes easy, it just comes more naturally.
Play your part
After reading this, I suggest you take 30 minutes off to do the exercises and think of what you want to pursue in life. To those of us who can still afford to pursue our passions, we owe this to those who can’t, to those who raised us doing something they didn’t really love, and to those who are still stuck in their comfort zones. Don’t settle.