“Complacency is a state of mind that exists only in retrospective: it has to be shattered before being ascertained.” –Vladimir Nabokov
Everyone has a different idea of personal success. Although when most people think of “success”, they often think of comfort. They want money so they can live comfortably. They want a job that they’re comfortable in. It makes sense why it’s a goal; comfort is soothing, relaxing, it’s zen. Comfort is the lack of pain, distress, or strain. Of course, that’s everyone’s goal!
But maybe it shouldn’t be.
Not to say that people should look for pain or uneasiness. But I believe they should run when they find too much comfort.
Comfort is NOT Success
Success means different things for whomever you ask and changes based on their upbringing, personal experiences, cultural influences, and social connections.
I’ve lived with my current roommates for only a couple years, but I’ve known them for the past decade. Although we have similar social connections, personalities, and upbringings, our definitions of success are different. Some examples the four of us put together were:
- “Fiscal Freedom”
- “An accomplished feeling from my job”
- “Happy to start my day rather than dreading it”
- “Not having to look at the price tag at a store or the bill at a restaurant”
- “Contentment with the life I have built”
- “Ability to travel the world without time or money constraints”
- “Spending my time on the things I love”
- “Challenge myself in whatever I do, find something I’m always learning from”
Between the four of us, these are our personal definitions of success. We all work hard to reach these levels of success and that’s great. But what happens when we do reach our goals? That’s when comfort becomes a problem.
It now turns from comfort to complacency. If you feel good in your position and have no real need to leave it, your comfort can become your biggest saboteur.
Comfort, The Monster
Comfort is a little monster in everyone. He is a bloated blob who only wishes to sit, relax, and enjoy himself. He closes his eyes and stops moving the moment you let him take hold. Once you let Comfort take over, all of a sudden months and sometimes years can go by.
Comfort is terrified of change. He likes his round plush chair that has molded to his body and he hates the idea of getting a new one, so every time change becomes a possibility, Comfort panics and feels upset, scared, and everything comfort isn’t.
I got stuck on Comfort’s molded chair myself not too long ago. I used to work in a hardware store as a department manager. I walked in on a whim, got an entry-level job, and within only a few months, I worked myself into management.
I had no passion to work there, in fact, I didn’t know it even existed until I went inside that first day. Working there didn’t align with any of my goals, yet I stayed there for 5 years. I stayed there because I enjoyed the people that I worked with, I made good money, and I was very good at my job.
Which don’t get me wrong, it can be very fulfilling to be content doing something you like with people you get along with. There’s nothing really bad about that… But, there also kind of is.
I Lost Sight of My Goals
I had no free time and no possibility to work side jobs, have hobbies, or do what I love and travel. My job was very tedious and even though my department changed more than any other (we did all the seasonal things), it was still the same thing day in and day out. It stopped being challenging for me. I didn’t have to think about my decisions as much anymore because my experience and instinct already knew what to do.
I was overly comfortable in my position; there was no urgency to leave.
Then one day, the same way I got my job, on a whim, I quit. The most amazing thing happened after that. I could do anything I wanted and new opportunities became visible. It was stressful not knowing where my money would come from, or the idea of re-learning an entire position again when I was already good at this one. But those feelings were fleeting.
I felt so incredibly happy and free. I eventually got a job where I work half as many hours with the same pay so I’m able to work on my hobbies and develop my skills outside of work.
Fear of Change
For all these years I was content to stay in a job I didn’t really care for just because of uncertainty and fear of losing my comfort. My comfort monster closed my eyes to the possibilities around me. Who knows what other opportunities could have passed me by during those times.
But here’s the thing. Comfort isn’t always like this. If you change often, he gets used to buying new chairs before he gets them molded to his body; he won’t freak out. He may protest a bit at first, but he will never close his eyes and will always be moving with you.
The moment you give into your own Comfort is when you begin to lose. Keep your eyes open for opportunities. For change. Never shut your eyes to new opportunities no matter how uncomfortable the change makes you feel. To reach your goals and be successful, you have to get past catering to Comfort.
But don’t stop there. Once you reach your goals, set new ones, make more. I changed my relationship with comfort by embracing every opportunity that comes my way.
I Never Would Have Imagined It
I never thought I would be a waitress again after I found a “career” job in management. I never thought I would apply to Praxis again after not getting in the first time years ago. I could still be in retail right now. Making money, being comfortable, and watching the time go by like many others. But I made the hard decision to change. By taking myself out of that comfy chair, I have accomplished so much more than I ever did in my past position. I’m on my way again; eyes open and constantly moving. Ready for the next adventure towards success.
Comfort is not success, but it isn’t a bad thing to desire comfort. Just don’t let him get too complacent in his chair, keep him on his toes with as much change as you can get. Revisit your goals often and never settle for anything that isn’t making you your best version. No matter what your individual goals are, everyone should have one main goal above the rest: accept change by always moving forward.