It’s one thing to be happy with the job you are doing; it’s another to be too satisfied, too content or too comfortable. Lots of time comfortable translates to sedentary. And in today’s dynamic economy sedentary is not an adjective used to describe someone who is “headed up the corporate ladder.”
Am I saying you should throw the idea of work life balance out the window? No.
Does busting out of being “too comfortable” mean you need to start work longer hours and days? No.
I am suggesting that if you are comfortable in your job—or in your life, for that matter—it might be worth examining whether you are too comfortable. Ask yourself:
- Are you challenging yourself enough?
- Are you learning something every day?
- Have you settled into habits and behaviors you know are not productive either for the work or for relationships…because it’s comfortable?
How can you know if your comfort level is about right—or way too high? Here are some signs to watch for in your thinking:
- I can do my job in my sleep.
- Everything I do is routine, and I like it that way.
- I can’t recall the last time I’ve taken a class.
- I can’t name one new thing I’ve learned in the last month.
- I can’t name one new person I’ve sought out and gotten to know.
- I haven’t presented a new idea to the team this month.
- I haven’t supported a new idea this month.
- I haven’t tried a new place for lunch this month.
- People call me, “Good old, reliable Joe/Judy!”
This list is not definitive, but instead indicative of what it means to be too comfortable. You may have other signs to add.
The point is if you are too comfortable, it probably means you are not stretching—thereby missing the opportunity to discover your potential. You are not taking a risk—thereby missing a chance to learn something new. You are not allowing yourself to be a little uncomfortable, the only way you can avoid becoming stale, less productive, and (frankly) more than a little boring!
If none of those things work you up into a froth, consider this: There’s also a job security issue here. If you are in a company that feeds on innovation and energy (as only the really successful ones do), you may be headed for trouble. Folks who are too comfortable are often not looking for better ways of doing things but have gotten snuggly with the old ways. They’re not searching for new ideas because they like to wallow in the old ones. And they don’t give off the kind of dynamism that employers are looking for when deciding whom to promote. Or keep.
Check your comfort zone thermometer. If it’s not a little cold or a little hot once in awhile, then maybe it’s time to re-examine.
So…are you too comfortable?