Does it ever feel like you’re waiting?
Waiting for something to happen. Waiting for the fog to clear, so you can see what lies ahead. Waiting for the moment the pieces come together, culminating in the perfection you spent your entire life waiting for.
If you’re still waiting, here’s news: you’re wasting your time.
Waiting is dangerous. It gives the false illusion that if you’re patient enough, time will reward you with everything you hoped for. It causes you to sit there and let things fall into place rather than doing something yourself.
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But the greatest danger about waiting is that one day, you’ll look back and realize that you spent all that precious time sitting there, waiting.
We were not meant to stay in one place. We were meant to go. To reach one place, admire the view, and then go to another place. And so on.
Has the dust finally settled for you? Have you been looking at the same view for a while now? If so, it’s time to brush off the dust and keep going.
Here are 8 subtle signs that you’ve stayed in the comfort zone for too long:
1. You don’t remember the last time you felt “the burn”
A marathon runner once said, “If you’re not feeling the burn in your lungs, you’re not pushing yourself hard enough.”
When people are new to exercising, they typically shy away from this feeling. They don’t know whether it’s safe, or that they can even push themselves to that level. Instead, they end up slightly fatigued, satisfied that they even put in the effort.
“The burn” is a great analogy just about everywhere in life. When you work on something, do you end up a little tired, or does it feel like your mind has been stretched full with ideas? When you evaluate the relationships in your life, are some people around because it’s convenient, or because they genuinely add to your quality of life?
Those “burn” moments bring discomfort and pain, but they also bring growth and strength. If you’re not feeling the burn, you’re not pushing the limits of your progress.
2. You have mastered all the components of your life
So you’re an expert at everything you do now. From making coffee in the morning to getting work done at the office, you’ve got it all covered. You’re so good at everything you do, it’s almost as if you can do it with your eyes closed.
At first glance, this sounds like a great thing. Your life runs like a tight ship, with every piece moving in clockwork fashion. You have everything you need. Yet why do you still feel a deep running sense of discontentment?
It’s because you may have mastered everything in your life, but you also know there’s still so much that you have no knowledge about. When you know how to do something perfectly, there’s no challenge left. And when there’s no challenge, there’s no sense of reward.
3. You can predict what will happen to you in the future
It’s true that no one can absolutely predict what the future will bring. There’s no foretelling of an impending disaster, a windfall gain, or when someone will cross your path and lead you down a road you had never imagined.
However, you can probably predict what your routine will look like tomorrow, and the day after, and so on. There’s nothing on a daily basis that surprises you. All elements of uncertainty have been vanquished.
Now, a routine is good in some ways. A routine increases your work productivity and keeps stress levels down. But being able to predict with near certainty what will happen to you also means there’s no room for spontaneity.
When there’s little room for spontaneity, there’s little room to encounter new opportunities. The most life-altering moments come from situations that are out of the ordinary, such as traveling somewhere new or learning a skill. If you’re looking for those pivotal moments, you need to be prepared to change up your routine once in a while.
4. Instead of making things happen, you let things happen to you
To what extent are you in control of your life? While you don’t have control over what happens to you, you do have control over how you act. You can either make a decision or do nothing at all.
But if you don’t make decisions, you release the reins on what happens next. Eventually, someone else will come along and make those decisions for you. When that happens, you might not like what others choose for you.
Think back to the last few changes that have happened to your life. It could be anything: a financial investment, moving somewhere, or enrolling in a course. How many of those changes were initiated by you?
Were you the one that said, “I’m going to do that, and this is how I’m going to achieve it”? Or was it someone else who brought it up and you went along because you had no idea what else to do? When you let things happen instead of making things happen, you lose sight of who you are and who you can become.
5. Failure isn’t in your vocabulary
Failure is commonly seen as a source of embarrassment. In fact, some people pride themselves on never failing. But what they don’t realize is that never failing has its downsides.
People who don’t fail don’t know the value of humility, so they lack sympathy and understanding of others. They go on looking at the world from a top-down perspective. After a while, looking down at others becomes a very limited viewpoint.
It’s important to realize that every success comes with a mountain of failures beneath it. Failure forces you to learn what works and what doesn’t work, which helps you grow as a person. If you’ve never failed, it means you never reached high enough.
6. You have answers, but you don’t have questions
No one knows everything. In fact, look at the experts in any given field. Every day, they’re still figuring out the answers while discovering new things in the process.
So if you think you know everything there is to know, you’re wrong. Not only are you wrong, but your mindset is wrong. Chances are, if you think you know enough, it means that you don’t know nearly enough.
Pay attention to your thought process when you encounter an obstacle. Do you shirk away, or does your mind start to turn? Responding with “I don’t know” is really an excuse. A better approach is to ask, “How does this work?” That small mindset switch makes all the difference between being complacent and being proactive.
Leading with questions rather than answers keeps you curious about the world. It forces you to reach out of your comfort zone and explore. After all, the universe is filled with infinite unknowns waiting to be discovered.
7. You avoid any and all conflicts
Let’s be honest: who enjoys starting conflicts? Unless something is really, really bothering someone, most people would prefer to go on with their usual routine. Life is hard enough without unnecessary hiccups.
And in the vast majority of cases, that decision would be the right one. Conflicts, and by extension, changes of any sort cause serious abrasion between people. But when there’s a decision being made that impacts months, years, or even decades of your life, it’s time to speak up.
For instance, I know someone who has been in the same relationship for over 10 years, which sounds great on the surface. Together, they own a car and a home, and they’ve been engaged for years. Yet she expresses uncertainty and is never quite ready to discuss the future. As you might guess, these decisions were initiated by her fiancé and she went along with it – simply because it was easier than going against the grain.
The deeper you settle into something, the harder it becomes to get out. Creating a smaller conflict to avoid long-term pain is better than prolonging an undesirable situation to avoid conflict.
8. If your world was turned upside down tomorrow, you have no idea how you would cope
It’s easy to coast by and let things be when someone else takes care of things in your life. Maybe you’ve been at the same company under the same boss for over a decade. Maybe your spouse makes all the major decisions. Or, a family member manages all your finances.
So you slowly sink into that steaming, warm bath of comfort and close your eyes. But what happens if the plug gets pulled? Would you have anything of your own? Or would you be helpless?
Relying on one thing, and one thing only, is risky. That one thing could be one source of income from a company, or one person to provide the support you need. Your entire world teeters on it like a crutch. Without it, everything comes crashing down.
To prevent this, financial investors practice diversification to reduce exposure to any particular asset. You too can do the same. Multiply your revenue streams. Expand the people you know. Widen your knowledge. When you diversify, you feel less of an impact from any potential disaster.
Ultimately, the greatest comfort lies in knowing that you’ve survived the discomfort and come out a stronger person.