Being comfortable should be a warning sign. It's not that being comfortable is a bad thing by itself, but if we agree that growth comes from pushing your comfort zone, then any time we're within our comfort zone we're not growing. Whenever you find that you're comfortable, ask yourself what you aren't training. The answer will vary from case to case, but the question to ask yourself is: would being comfortable or training be better for me?
I'll give you an example. Six weeks ago I was bundled up in my jacket and hoodie, walking through Beijing. I was warm, and I was... comfortable.
The opposite of being comfortable is training. What could I be training by giving up that comfort? Well, I could be getting used to cold weather, which would mean that I could feel warm in a wider range of climates and possibly even pack less clothing. That seemed like a win, so I took off my jacket. As I walked, looking for a restaurant, I noticed that I was warm again, so I took off my hoodie.
And that's how life's been for the past six weeks. I remove articles of clothing until I'm wearing just pants and shirt, or until I'm slightly cold. Already, it's working. I spent Thanksgiving in D.C. and Virginia, and even though I brought it everywhere with me, I didn't wear it once. Most of the time I was a little bit cold, but if the wind was still enough, I could be okay even when it was forty-five degrees.
On the other hand, I found that if I was slightly cold, I had a really tough time focusing on work. So I keep myself warm when I work, and cold the rest of the time.
If your work is comfortable, you're probably not getting better at it. If your relationship is too comfortable, you're probably not strengthening it. If your entire daily routine is comfortable, then you've probably got a ton of opportunity to push yourself and grow.
When you make yourself uncomfortable, you widen your comfort zone. Soon those things you did to make yourself uncomfortable have become comfortable. Then you look beyond that newly demarcated comfort zone and push again. This is the cycle of self-improvement, and noticing when you're comfortable is how you know that you're ready to take the next step.
Picture is a phoenix from Forbidden City, Beijing. Did I mention that we named our island Phoenix Island?
So much work to do... habits book coming January at the latest, gear post coming as soon as two pretty awesome things come in, RV post at some point.
I think that there are few absolute black and white rules which should be followed by everyone. After all, we're all different with different priorities and resources. What's right for me may not be right for you, and, in fact, what was right for me ten years ago may not be right for me now.
But I find it useful to have a set of indicators to alert me when an area of my life could probably use some attention to make sure I'm still on the right track. And I think that those indicators are relatively universal. Certain things should raise some alarm bells in all of us, even if our responses to them may be different.
I think of these things as a background monitoring process. I generally assume that I'm on a good path and don't worry about much, but when one of these indicators comes up, I pause and use it as an opportunity to either recalibrate, or to confirm that I'm still on the right path.
What I'm primarily trying to avoid is a negative spiral. Those often start slowly and then accelerate so quickly that it takes a lot more effort to get back to where I was than it would have taken to just stay in a good place. An analog would be debt — the more money you're spending paying interest, the less you have for things that matter.
Sue and I have known from way back that we want to have as much skin-to-skin time with our daughter as possible. In fact, we haven't even purchased a stroller because we want to carry Devina to achieve this goal.
Originally, we were using a Britax carrier which was given to us by some friends, and I loved. But we started reading blogs which warned of issues that could arise with carriers that leave a baby's legs dangling, which the Britax (as well as a Baby Bjorn carrier we had) did. Specifically, articles like this:
Here it is illustrated: