I recently went outside my comfort zone, when I biked across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Sure, I was with 100 other riders, I slept in hotels on two nights, and I knew I had the security of the SAG truck that would pick me up if I couldn’t complete the day’s ride. Still, it was my legs that peddled the 190 miles and climbed the 10,000 feet of the adventure. The resulting emotional effect at the end of the ride was glorious. It led me to ponder the extent to which we avoid going outside our comfort zone, especially as we age.
I googled the comfort zone concept and learned a few things:
- Challenging ourselves helps us perform at our peak. No surprise. It’s like interval training for an athlete—without some difficulty, we fail to learn, grow and get better.
- Risk helps us rise to the occasion. Although we don’t want to take risk all the time, taking some risk helps us put aside fear of failure, a fear that often leads us to settle and holds us back.
- It is important to keep putting ourselves out there throughout life. Taking calculated risks keeps us open to experience and makes us more interesting! And while it’s true that our comfort zone enlarges over time, learning new skills improves our well-being as we age.
- Calculated risk is the name of the game. The Yerkes-Dodson Law refers to the relationship between risk and performance. Risk enhances performance up to a certain level. Beyond that point, good stress becomes anxiety, which interferes with performance.
My recent experience made me ponder the risks I’ve taken in my life and career. It led me to think about the aging of advisers in our industry and the increasing emergence of lifestyle practices. You may need to contemplate whether this concept applies to you or not. But if it does, one is wise to do things like:
- Find ways to incorporate challenges into daily life
- Make a snap decision if you are a cautious, deliberate decision maker or, if you tend to make snap decisions as a norm, try taking a slower, more planned and deliberate decision-making approach
- Find small ways to stretch yourself every day, turning it into a habit over time
Ultimately, I have realized that I need to challenge myself more; maybe you do, too. So whether in work or personally, find a way to take a calculated risk that puts you outside your comfort zone. The benefit is learning something new that will serve you indefinitely.
Managing Principal of Practice Management
Commonwealth Financial Network