Get out of your comfort zone

I love my friends, my company, web conferences and the bars I frequent. I love my Apple gear, my DSLR, my guitar and my bed. Just about all my time gets spent on or between these things I love. And I have the feeling that many people share such a pattern. Everyone loves their comfort zones, because they are so gosh darn comfortable. (that’s the whole point, right?)

Yet the moments in which you grow, as a designer, as a person, as a friend, are the ones that exist outside of this comfort zone.

The 15K

Two days back I ran a 15K (those who read my tweets are probably thinking “Oh no, not this again …“) I have been running a bit for the past year now, and have done some ‘long’ distances. Yet this one was an organized event. This one had people on the side of the track and this one had about five thousand other people dashing around (but mostly in front of) me. Here, there was no way out, except conceding.

Getting to this 15K was an annoying process. It was a process of myself looking for a challenge, loving my Sunday mornings and being insecure about my ability to make it. It was talking with good friends about my ambition, looking for support and excuses. And it stood there, annoyingly apparent, at the front of my Bookmarks Bar. The afternoon before, the absolute last moment to sign up, I entered. And only after about six kilometers into the run, I realized I made the right decision.

Now, two days later, I physically feel destroyed. My whole body is stiff and moving around hurts. But the feeling you get when you cross such a finish line is amazing, but more importantly… it is different. It ended up being no average sunday, it ended up changing my perspective on running, and most blatantly it is just an awesome thing to look back to.

Conferences

The same goes for conferences. You can live your life comfortably, have your routines and do your thing. Or you can get outside of those lines and meet up with some awesome new people. Sure, it’s totally awkward to walk up to a bunch of geeks and say “I guess this is where I fit in”. But hey, you’ll find that they will probably reply with affirmation and there are your first conversations.

Eventually you will get the hang of talking to random people and you will go home with a post-conference blues, anxious to go to the next one.

Be it physical, technical or even social, get out of your comfort zone. And do it as often as you can. And I am not saying you should run a distance tomorrow, or start bungee jumping.

Design something as a developer, create something crazy, go somewhere you’ve never been. (you don’t have to get on a plane for it) Good chance it’s awkward at first, good chance it is not always cool. But the amount of figurative fresh air it brings you will take your breath away. (I just had to write it like that)

Now stand up, open a window and take a deep breath. (Disclaimer: I will not be responsible for any moths or other objects you will snort up in your nose)