It’s probably weird if someone said, “wow, my life is great right now so I need to do something to change it asap” but that’s basically what I’m getting at.
Sounds counter-intuitive right?
Several comments bought up fitness as something great but counter-intuitive. Totally true! Being fit requires some serious soreness, lots of time commitment to nutrition and working out consistently. None of which is comfortable – but should you still do it? Absolutely!
Normal people find good in comfort but the biggest thing I’ve learned in 2018 is how little good comfort actually does. Especially if you’re only in your 20s, 30s, and 40s. The body isn’t tired so the spirit shouldn’t be either!
The latter half of my 2018 has been a mulling of comfort. I sold our Airbnb rental and that freed a few hours. I streamlined some of my duties for the rest of my 2 Airbnbs and puppers daycare so I got a chance to recover from burnout.
Sounds great right? Mini vacation!
Well, not after about 2 months! You can’t go on perma-vacation mode. Then comes dreaded boredom…
Where my husband works, the workplace consensus for a complete “work reset” is about 6 weeks. I found that to be very true. Employees usually need 6 weeks to completely remove themselves from burnout plus recover to a normal state.
It was also around mid-2018 of this year that we hit our first $1 million in liquid net worth. For a lot of people, $1 million dollars is the hallmark of “OK, I can retire early and live relatively prudently from now on.”
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It’s an enviable position and we are certainly charmed that Lady Luck has kissed us slightly earlier on at age 27 and 30. Don’t get me wrong on that.
But I noticed it was during all that, the whole “deep life projects” really came out springing and fighting to be heard.
(Refresher course: deep life projects = a focus on mastery, continuing learning, passion, meaning, and celebrating individualistic talents.)
Actually…2018 has been quite exciting. All I have to do is read back on this blog diary and realize I’ve learned + grown a lot.
I’ve got even more to learn! Likeeee, I just learned this: comfort can be bad.
Why Comfort is Bad
Short and sweet: comfort is bad because facing adversity keeps us fighting, growing, learning and forcibly places our trust in others we wouldn’t have given away otherwise.
“The goal isn’t to avoid lifting a finger on this planet, but to dig in with both hands to the wisdom of uncomfortable places.” –Joe Robinson
They say some animals placed into captivity suffer or die earlier from boredom. This puts zoos in a critical position to entertain these intelligent animals with proper surroundings. They’re not used to domesticated comforts coming from a lifetime of struggling in the wild.
When The Frugal Gene started becoming more and more comfortable, I started getting bored.
Boredom turns to apathy and apathy does nothing for growth.
I started piecing other web projects together to shake myself out of my comfort zone and tap into a portion of me that wouldn’t necessarily fit in with the rant spitting, uber personal, frugal loving blog TFG is.
But that’s not to say I don’t adore almost 200 posts written on this blog.
You can see my journey as a person. I’m pretty damn sure I’ve said a couple of embarrassing things within those 200 posts that today I think… “wow, you dumb ass.”
But I don’t take it back.
There’s no regret. It’s all part of my growth as a person of age 25/26.
I’m proud of everything I work on, I can see my own personal growth from just last year alone has been astounding.
It’s amaze-balls O_O!
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Every new thing is a challenge. That’s one selfish reason to build more projects and never fully “retire.”
It adds a necessary excitement and purpose back into my rather boring, captive life.
How to Be Uncomfortable
Comfort isn’t always bad. But it’s mostly bad to me because that’s when a lot of amazing people with great potential get…lazy.
I’m afraid my hubby might be such a person although I’m grooming him away slowly as he picks up my infectious drive. —
(Until we become parents one day that is, which is a hugeeee project in itself.)
So how do you fight stagnating comfort once you have encountered it? Don’t worry, it doesn’t happen overnight so just give generous time. You have to find a passion first and then do it scared.
1. Make Measured Risks
Taking up measured risks for most of us is simply becoming financially independent enough to make an untraditional sacrifice or move.
For example, I had to scale back slightly on this blog even though it’s doing well. I love that whatever is in my head is being read by thousands of new people every month. But sometimes, you have to sacrifice a little darling piece in order to move forward.
A good number of you readers already know about what one of my secret projects is 🙂
I’ve been spending a good few hours everyday building it up.
It sounds dorky but I never had so much fun in my life wiggling with this new project.
It’s extremely difficult for me to come off positive, extroverted, and short-versed (instead of the side rants I go on typically on this blog.) Project “M” is more than halfway out of my comfort zone for sure yet I LOVE IT.
One can’t even fathom how happy I am to figure out this entire puzzle. I *love* a good challenge and this is definitely one. After I get a hang of this first project then I can gather my knowledge to build and do something even more challenging!
Don’t get me wrong…almost everything is frustrating as hell. I didn’t exactly make the best decisions from the get-go even with prior experience…
But that’s the best thing: I learned a lot more fudging up!
The more frustrating = the more rewarding. How odd is that?
It’s like a teething baby. High rates of new growth hurt.
Soon a new set of teeth will come in and allow you to bite off new, better, wonderful things.
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2. Hack Your Brain
In my sleep, I concentrate on a problem before bed and I can usually retain a portion of consciousness while asleep to analyze and solve that problem before I wake up.
NOT sure if there’s a scientific term for it…is it called…Incubation? Or another form of lucid dreaming?
(*Tries to recall my neuroscience university days…*)
EDIT: I found a Psychology Today article about problem-solving while asleep if you want to learn more.
“We’ve come across many individuals who regularly use lucid dreaming to tackle problems they find difficult to solve in waking life. One professional musician hears rock lyrics when he becomes lucid, which he writes down the next day. And one painter dreams he is standing at a door that separates him from his next masterpiece. After walking through the door, he studies the painting that appears and repaints it later from memory.”
I know if I think about a problem deeply before bed, I will continue solving it in my sleep that I wouldn’t have been able to if I was awake. Pretty neat feature o’ human brain ?
No matter what I was studying in school, I’ve ever done that before. I never felt the need to disturb my sleep to figure things out in any subject because I didn’t care.
Schooling for me was largely a waste. Yes, I was a good student – honors, dean’s list blah blah blah – but I definitely had no interest in what I was learning.
They gave us set criteria and boxes to learn and study – biology class, psychology, literature, organic chemistry etc. neat little boxes. But life is wider than that.
Self-learning is one of heck of a skill (my public) school didn’t teach. Lucid learning is a kick-ass feature too!
3. Bring Dedication
Most people (especially my ex-workers) were happy with a 9 to 5 work life. Pick up a paycheck, drive home, see their kids (not about the kids) for an hour or two then sleep.
I couldn’t make it past the first week employed without feeling crushed and empty no matter what extracurricular sprinkles I put on my poopy life sundae.
*insert poop sundae image*
I didn’t know what was wrong with me. It was spectacularly startling of a difference between others and myself. I thought there was something wrong with me because I demanded so much more from my life. And I never found anything or had a positive environment that encouraged me, coming from a dilapidated household of bad role models.
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The past 7 nights of sleeping, 3 of those nights I had problem-solving dreams regarding issues associated with my deep life work and woke up so happy to have solved them! This is what I like to submerge myself in. Not sure what more proof do I require from myself that I enjoy what I do 🙂
There are more backend work and TONS of learning. Oh. My. God. I love learning and growing in this entire journey, it is fascinating. Probably the most fun I’ve had in a while!
Naturally, I’m hoping ALL of my life projects will pay off one day too of course. It doesn’t matter when…I have the rest of my Life (22,000 days!)
It can be when I’m dead/unsuccessful, doesn’t matter! I live on the hope of reaffirmation and interest which drives dedication.
All in all, it’s much better to fall in total love doing something than sitting there with absolutely nothing. Yeah?
4. Learn to Learn (Even if You’re Not “Smart”)
OK, I’m done gloating about how much I love my work.
I know I’m not as smart as 80% of other finance bloggers. Bottom 20%, and that’s being generous with myself. But-but-butttt, I *try* harder to make up for my shortcomings by mixing in creativity and some damn fine luck. Of course, I wish I was smarter/faster learner but I know where I want to go and do with my life which is a huge leg up that most people don’t have.
I’ll never be the smartest person in a FinCon room but that’s good because I can learn from them.
There are a lot of ways a person can step out of their comfort zone and take a risk. Have you ever exchanged or risk something with something else even though it was going just fine? Have you ever solved problems while asleep?
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Mr. Tako says
I find it interesting to follow along and see how you think through these things Lily. Anyone who claims they have life completely figured out is probably selling something.
For me, the idea of comfort too on entirely new meaning once I had a kid. Once we had two kids, life became more of a struggle for survival. Literally, no joking.
I can only dream about the luxury of comfort. Hell, having some semblance of order in my life would be a blessing. Frankly, I’m still figuring out how to find enough time to sleep… let alone dream about solving problems. 😉
Ms. Frugal Asian Finance says
I second Mr. Tako’s comment. I feel like my life is no longer the same with two kids. Everyday is different and comes with more happiness/challenges/headache/laughter (seriously). it’s great you have passion projects to keep you going. I know you guys wanna wait for a couple more years to have kids, but having kids will surely lift you out of comfort and boredom hehe.
I don’t have kids so I can’t speak on comfort with kids. But that wasn’t the point of my post at all. Comfort (from work/a 9 to 5) was my point and self-discovery was my second point. Nothing to do with kids 🙂
I didn’t mention anything about kids in this post that’s related to comfort? It was a descriptor of my coworkers but not a point I was trying to make.
Dave @ Accidental FIRE says
I try to mix up my discomfort between mental and physical. Why do you think I climb all those hard mountains and ride my bike 5000 miles a year really fast? You’re correct, comfort just makes us fat and lazy.
As Alex Honnold said “Nothing great was ever achieved by being cozy and comfortable”
Oh exactly. Fitness is an amazing example, I should have mentioned that! Apparently, I’m walking over 15,000 steps a day, almost every day, I had no idea until I got a pedometer last weekend.
My wife and I got out of our warm bed yesterday at 4:40 AM to meet friends and run 7.5 miles in 20 deg F windchill in the pitch dark, and we are in our 60’s, one of our running friends was age 70, in fact only one runner was younger than us. It was uncomfortable, and we didn’t run seeking pain, we ran seeking fitness. But there is no way I know of to avoid pain and achieve strength or speed.
Amazing!! I want us to be like that in our 60s.
freddy smidlap says
my father used to tell me “you’ve had it too easy for too long.” he was right. it’s easy to get soft when you have everything. i’ve been looking for the next challenge for a few years and finally started working out again. once the home life and money were put in place it was time to work on something physically hard again. i think our new side business will bring some challenges too. learning rocks!
Same here, and I’ve been tackling bettering my nutrition too. I would love to swim in donuts and steak but…:)
First, thank you for including 40s in your write up of when the body is still working (although I am in the tail end of my 40s with only 2.5 yrs to be still included).
Now I am really curious about this super secret project of yours. Knowing you it is going to be amaze-balls (again any way you can work that into a post gets you bonus points).
Comfortable is definitely a hindrance to most people. Once you get too comfortable you don’t push yourself and progress and rather stay in a rut. Everything can atrophy (your creativity, body, etc) when you just settle in. Glad to see you are still pushing yourself and hustling.
Blogging was a giant leap for me to get out of my comfort zone (took me 2 yrs to break inertia from the very first thoughts of starting a blog) but I’m glad I pushed myself and did it.
Haha I was hoping someone noticed I mentioned 40. 2 years to start? It took me 2 seconds to go “whoop I’m bored, let’s do this!” Fun huh?!
SC | MissFunctional Money says
I definitely think there’s a MAJOR difference between getting stuck in a rut and working from a place of rest. A deep contentment in what you’re doing is different than just settling in because it’s the easy road.
Also, DYING to know your secret project!!! Here’s to keeping it uncomfortable.
Thanks Miss SC!! 🙂
This is a great post! One of the reasons I love traveling so much is that I get exposed to different people and their ways of life every time I go somewhere new. It’s especially uncomfortable from time to time (especially when I don’t speak the local language), but always worth it. Thanks for sharing!
Ha! So true Jon!
I like that you mentioned fitness on here. Being a workout addict at one point, I can tell you that when you reach at certain level where you do the same number of sets and repetitions and you see no results, that’s when you reach that comfort level. In order to see the results you want you have to get on a discomfort level which means more sets, repetitions, and/or heavier weights.
In terms of being comfortable in general, it’s nice to be in that comfort level at first because you think you reached a point where there’s no need to improve but after a while you become uninspired and lazy. If you want to be inspired and make something happen, you would have to be an uncomfortable level in order to reach your goals because it ain’t easy. And that’s good thing because it shows that your trying your hardest.
Perfectly said Kris. I started counting exactly how much I walked everyday and it’s noon when I’ve done 7000 steps. My daily goal now is 15000 steps (and some discomfort haha.)
Heh, I dreamt about work when I was an engineer. My dream world solutions were crap. They didn’t work. I just dreamt it did. Maybe lucid dreaming is better for problems that aren’t completely logical.
Yeah… this whole thing is young people problem. This is why you won’t be happy until you’re in your 50s or 60s. You’re struggling to push yourself. That’s good, but I’m over it. I’ve suffered enough. Comfort is good. 😉
Ha! Omg Joe you’re most likely completely right. I was thinking midway..man I sound like a crazy 20-year-old. This is going to make an excellent life diary! Man I hope you are right. I would love to be comfortable after I’m pushing. You have definitely earned your stripes Joe 🙂 it’s time for the good life.
I definitely worked much harder because of my shortcomings in English and not having the right letters beside my name! It set me apart from the others and it worked out great for me. I did enjoy the challenge.
Now that I am older, i do try to step outside my comfort zone once in a while but I did notice I enjoy the “comfort zone” a lot more now.
I can’t believe you walked 15,000 steps a day! That’s awesome.
Love this article – even if I disagree with some of it!
So I’m a little late to this party but I completely recognise what you’re describing here . But I recognise it from my pursuit of ‘success’ for it’s own sake.
The thing for me is that having gone through that feeling I’ve come out of the other side and realise the comfort is awesome and should be celebrated and chased after. You talk about comfort leading to stagnation, boredom, apathy and laziness but if you look at many people who are struggling, their lack of comfort it’s often precisely because they are stagnant, bored, apathetic (and, dare I say it, lazy). Comfort or discomfort’s not automatically linked to these things.
The thing that comfort gives you is the ability to take risks. Even small ones. The confidence to try a new recipe as you know your spouse will love you regardless. The decision to read a book by a new author because you’re not worried about missing out on what everyone else is reading.
Building on that. I would also argue that the growth actions you list above are largely possible when someone has the underlying security blanket of being comfortable. Without it I’m not sure many people would be comfortable taking those chances.