The idea of a “comfort zone” is a dangerous place devoid of opportunities to grow and experience new things.
In March 2015 I made a huge change in my life. It’s arguably one of the biggest and most scariest changes I’ve ever made: My wife, Caroline, and I packed up our comfortable lives and moved 2,337 miles across the country from Jacksonville, FL to San Diego, CA.
We knew almost no one. We had no long-term plan. We simply wanted more adventure in our lives.
What does this have to do with you, and with taking action? One word: Adventure
Before we talk about that, let’s take a quick trip back in time to when my wife and I first started dating a few years ago (and no, I’m not going to bore you with all our early romanticals).
We had some long talks (we call them D&Ms; Deep and Meaningfuls), as most do in new relationships, and one of the topics that came up was where each of us wanted to live. Caroline wasn’t quite sure, but having lived in Jacksonville the majority of her life she had thoughts of living elsewhere. I had lived in Arizona, California, Virginia, New Jersey, and finally ended up in Florida. My answer at the time was fairly definitive: I wanted to stay in Florida. Near the beach, the warm weather, and free of state income tax. (Weeee, adult decisions!)
Fast forward a few years later, and Caroline and I took a 3-week cross-country road trip. We set out from our then-home in Jacksonville and planned to drive across the country on I-10, going as far west as Palm Springs, CA. Once we hit California, we’d make our trek back across the country on I-40. Our goal was to see a huge part of this beautiful country we live in that we’d never seen before.
We also wanted to take a grand adventure, with no certain outcome.
(One of my favorite things to do on road trips: #JasonDoesJumps)
During that cross-country trip we engaged in some new D&Ms, as you do when you’re trapped in the car together in northern New Mexico with zero cell phone service. It was during those conversations that we brought up the topic of potentially moving out of Florida. While we both loved Jacksonville, and could always see it as our hometown, we wondered if we should move away for awhile and try to experience another city or two. We both agreed that the road trip was an awesome experience, and that we live in a beautiful country that has so much to offer.
Those road trip discussions and a meal at a conference with friends (and a few too many margaritas, or wine, I can’t really remember) brought us to the decision to announce at the end of 2014 that we would be moving to San Diego. Not only moving to San Diego, but also deciding to live with another couple.
The decision to move—just like the decision to start a business or launch a new product—is only a small part of the battle. It’s an idea at first, and we all know that ideas are useless without execution.
The first thing we did was answer the question, “Why?” Why should we move? Why not just stay in our comfortable lives? Why completely uproot ourselves and do something most people only dream of? The answer: Adventure.
We all need more adventure in our lives. That doesn’t mean we have to bungee jump off a cliff or swim with sharks. Adventure, much like the definition of success, is what matters to you.
There is no perfect time for adventure
We hadn’t saved up a nest egg of money. Our businesses didn’t even make reliable consistent income. We didn’t even really know anyone in San Diego. Oh, and we lived in a house in Jacksonville that we would have to sell.
But none of those things held us back.
Were they obstacles that took effort to overcome? Yep. But we weren’t going to let them stop us from taking a chance on doing something amazing that we’d never forget. And what is life for, if you aren’t taking unforgettable risks?
Adventure can be planned
Similar to starting a new business, writing a book, or launching a product, you can’t put a big task on a to-do list and hope to make it happen. You have to break bigger tasks into smaller chunks. If you put “write a book” on a piece of paper, you’ll never get the book written (trust me, I know from experience). But you can write a long itemized to-do list of actionable tasks. Then, you can chip away and eventually take down a behemoth of a task.
I completely understand that we are in a unique situation to be able to seek out bold adventure. We both work for ourselves. We both own our own companies, and consequently our days. We don’t have kids. But everyone has their own circumstances and their own potential excuses. We intentionally built our lives to be a certain way, our lives weren’t handed to us on a platter.
If you let your circumstances stand in your way, what will you ever accomplish that is worth accomplishing?
The idea of a “comfort zone” is a dangerous place. It’s devoid of opportunities to grow and experience new things. It’s kind of like the slowest moving quicksand of all time. The longer you stay in your comfort zone, the more impossible it will feel to get out of it. As soon as you start to feel comfortable, when you start to get stuck in the quicksand, it’s time to change something.
As Caroline so eloquently put it:
“Big change happens when you decide that you want the dream more than you fear the reality.”
I love when people ask why we moved to San Diego. My answer: Adventure.
Almost always when I give that answer the person asking the question cracks a smile. I hope it inspires them to seek out a little adventure of their own. Just as I hope this article might inspire you to seek adventure for yourself.