I remember my life in 2010 so clearly. I was still an associate at a Big Law firm, so I was making more money than I could spend. Every month I sent some money home to my family, threw a big chunk at my student loans, and put some away in savings. I also got to go on awesome vacations and eat at trendy restaurants on the regular. I had a beautiful apartment. Lots of great friends who I did fun things with. I belonged to a yoga studio and gym that I loved, and visited both regularly. My life looked just like almost everyone else I had gone to law school with, and by all accounts, it was good.
But I wasn't happy.
I could feel it. I was comfortable, but I wasn't HAPPY. Life was nice enough, but it didn't excite me. I've always been a very passionate person, and I knew what it felt like when I was fully engaged in and excited about something. And nothing in my life came even close to making me feel that way.
And I really missed feeling that way. Because I knew that's when I was at my best.
I tried to fill the hole with hobbies - baking, hosting dinner parties, salsa dancing, lots and lots of yoga. And even though I truly loved doing those things, it wasn't enough to get me to happy, because the majority of my time and energy was being spent on my JOB.
I wanted more. And more than that, I knew I was MEANT for more. I knew that my strongest skill sets weren't being used at my current job, and therefore there was no way that I'd be able to reach my full professional potential in this role.
But if I left, where would I go?
That was the problem. I had always known I wouldn't stay at a law firm for long, but I had never really thought about where I would go next. And every time I tried thinking about it, no answers came. I would occasionally surf LinkedIn or Monster for job listings, but nothing jumped out at me as my IT. The thing I was meant to do, that would make use of my superpowers and leave me feeling fulfilled and full of purpose at the end of each day.
And what if I took the leap and left my cushy, not-too-shabby current job, only to end up somewhere worse? Yikes.
Clearly, figuring all of this out was going to take a lot of work. And sure, my current job wasn't perfect, but it wasn't all that bad either. In fact, some aspects of it were downright great! So why rock the boat?
The truth was, I wanted a better professional life, and I knew it was out there waiting for me, but I just wasn't willing to do what it took to get there. Yet.
Until I lost my dad. And I came out of that visit to hell with one thought burning in my heart:
I have no idea how much time I get in this life, so I don't want to waste one more moment of it being anything less than my best self, living anything less than my best life.
And at last, I was ready to do the work. And it WAS work. It was nearly three years of informational interviews, job interviews, volunteering my time, furtively taking the first steps into different careers/industries and hitting dead end after dead end. Starting over again and again, and clinging tightly to my faith in the fact that something better WAS out there for me - I just had to find my IT. Or maybe...build my IT?
And eventually, I did.
And when I got there, I KNEW. I felt something in my soul finally click into place. And it felt AMAZING. And I've never looked back. I always knew there was something better for me out there, but I didn't know HOW much better until I found it. And now that I'm here, I can say without a doubt that it was absolutely worth every moment of that torturous three years to get here.
I may have been comfortable in my old life, but compared to what I have now, that life seems frankly awful.
Dude. That's HUGE!! Think about what that means. It means that being comfortable isn't about what's good, or even good enough - it's just about what you're USED TO. And it turns out, we humans have the capacity to get comfortable with some pretty shitty circumstances. The scary thing is, because we've gotten comfortable with them, we don't realize just how shitty they are unless we manage to escape them!
So many of us buy into the idea that if we're comfortable, then that's good enough. But feeling comfortable has nothing to do with whether your circumstances are actually good for you. It simply means that you've adjusted to your surroundings - they're what you're used to. And because the human spirit is pretty dang tough and resilient, we are capable of getting used to some pretty bad situations, as long as they are introduced to us gradually enough.
But here's the thing. In order to go from just comfortable to truly happy, the first step requires you to get out of your comfort zone. Which is, by definition, UNCOMFORTABLE. So if you want to break out of your rut and find your way to happy, you have to be willing to go through a rough patch first.
The good news is, you know it's coming, so you can mentally prepare for it instead of getting caught off guard. I know, big fat help. But hey, it's something!
If you want to your life to change, you have to make different choices.
But no matter how scary those different choices may seem, just remember - they will definitely lead you somewhere new. That somewhere new may not be better, and it almost certainly won't be the best place for you (at least, not at first.) But it will be a step away from your rut, and THAT'S the key. The more steps you take away from that rut, the more comfortable you'll get with trying new things, taking risks, and being outside of your comfort zone. Each new choice will be a little less scary. And eventually, I promise, as long as you are listening to and following your gut, you WILL find your IT.
So don't settle for comfortable. Just because you're used to your situation, doesn't mean you should stay in it. Take stock regularly - are you truly happy, or just sticking with the status quo because it's easier than the alternative?