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Ditch the Comfort Zone

Posted by Ryan Lynch, AIF®, Product Manager, fi360, Inc. on October 29, 2015

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“If we don’t step out of the known – the comfort zone – we bring yesterday’s limited thinking into the present, therefore dooming the present to be just like the past” (Baron Baptiste).   

For plan participants, we call the comfort zone inertia, and those who are not saving enough – or at all – are its victims.  Paradoxically, too much time spent in the comfort of familiarity robs us of true contentment (or in this case, financial security). 

Ever kick on the cruise control and suddenly realize you’ve put a hundred miles behind you?  It’s so easy to zone out when auto-pilot is engaged.  The same thing happens in our day-to-day lives.  Biologically, human beings are hard-wired to desire achievement and growth.  In fact, a highly-addictive chemical, dopamine, is released when we reach a goal in order to motivate us to set another.  Still, the allure of comfort requires constant vigilance.

Sometimes, the winds of fortune bring about external changes that threaten the status quo (e.g., changing regulation, new technology).  In an attempt to remain within our comfort zone, we may choose to ignore, or even fight against these forces.  As the dust settles, emotions may linger; anger at the encroachment of government on free markets; fear of a cheaper competitor; resentment at investors’ inability to perceive the value of our services.  These are all perfectly natural feelings.  At the end of the day, we only have two choices.  We can choose either to bemoan the disruption (aka, talk the talk) or leverage it (aka, walk the walk).   As Jon Stein wisely reminds us in his article, “It’s Not Automation vs. Humans”, a threat is simply an opportunity in disguise.

What must you do to adopt a growth mindset?  Start by breaking habits.  If you eat out for lunch, start packing.  Choose a different bike at the gym (or hop on the treadmill).  After all, a comfort zone is merely an accumulation of routines.  As you begin to successfully break innocuous habits, the realization that larger, proactive changes are possible will begin to crystallize.

As stated in a previous post, Discover your WHY statement, we all possess a belief, an inherent purpose that lingers no matter how long it is ignored.   Find the courage to embrace it for it is the antidote for the coziest of comfort zones.

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