I’ve been thinking a lot about comfort zones recently. About routines, habits, patterns.
I think all of us are drawn to what’s comfortable. That will vary from person to person and situation to situation, but comfort is often what we seek. We’re creatures of habit, repetition, and routine.
Scientists studying human decision making find that we often make choices for short-term gratification (which I interpret as a present comfort) over long-term needs. It’s one reason why we don’t save for retirement. We’d rather buy something today than save for next year. Or two decades from now.
That’s not to say that our seeking of comfort is always bad. We find comfort and stability in routines, and our routines can be to our advantage. Every writer, artist, and athlete has heard about the importance of a routine. Writers talk about good writing habits and bad ones. About ways to routinely produce quality work. That goal is a good one, and a regular writing routine helps us meet it.
But routines and comfort zones can prevent us from growing.
I’m taking a level two class with The Writers Studio. Our second assignment is due tomorrow, and it’s kicking my butt. I find myself unsure I can complete a draft and regretting that I took the class. But that’s because this class is asking me to think about the narrator’s point of view while also balancing mood and tone. I feel like I’m juggling three chainsaws, and I don’t know how to juggle.
I don’t want to take this post political. But I think a large number of politicians hope U.S. voters follow our past voting habits. Typically, voters don’t turn out for midterm elections, which makes it easier for the two parties to figure out which candidates will likely win and where to spend their campaign money.
I’d love it if all of us stepped out of our comfort zones this November and turned out in record numbers. And upended the status quo in Washington, D.C.
I’d also love to see more people read books and watch TV shows that are out of their comfort zones. Perhaps that would make it easier for us to approach our neighbors, especially those with whom we have little in common, in hopes of building connections.
What habit, pattern, or comfortable routine would you like to change? How will you push yourself out of that pattern? Drop me a note in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts.