Avoiding the Comfort Zone


A major reason for people not achieving their potential is that they get stuck in a comfort zone. It is commonly argued that successful leaders try to avoid doing this by constantly setting higher goals for themselves. The problem with a comfort zone is that it can lead to a person becoming non-productive and ultimately bored. This is why it is important to continually set ourselves bigger targets and be persistent about achieving them.

I have just taken myself and my family out of our comfort zone in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where we had made a lovely home and wonderful friends. We are now in Jakarta, Indonesia, a city that is foreign to us all. However, I had been becoming increasingly aware that the comfort zone I had created was becoming less challenging and less fulfilling. It was time to move on.

Moving from Vietnam to Indonesia means that I am faced with challenges such as understanding a new religion, learning a new language, getting settled in a new home, finding a new school for our son, working alongside and getting to know my new colleagues and making new friends. In fact, everything is new to me, but these challenges are all part of leaving my comfort zone, and I welcome them.

That is not to say it is easy to leave one’s comfort zone. I have actually found it more difficult than I thought I would – especially having to say farewell to the fantastic friends we made in Vietnam. It seems to me that as we get older, we become more appreciative of, and therefore dependent on, what we have, and this makes it harder to push forward by giving it all up to start again. Since leaving Sweden 15 years ago, Vietnam has been the country I have called home for the longest.

But this move was what I and my family chose. I actually wrote it down as one of my top-10 goals in 2012 and if I had not focused my full attention on making it happen, I would probably still be in Ho Chi Minh City. I’m not saying that would be a bad thing just that I would have missed a major opportunity, and one that I have worked hard for. By focusing on the move to Jakarta I believe that, in a sense, the universe has given me what I asked for. I am welcoming the new challenges that wait for us in Jakarta.

Despite having to deal with the challenges facing me since I relocated my family to Indonesia, I remain positive and focused on setting and achieving greater goals. Thanks to my new friend Erick Renaldo, I have been shown what a great city Jakarta is for cyclists. After an early morning swim on Saturday Erick showed me just how sport friendly this city is. Afterwards I went back to the gym for a 13km run. This was a very satisfying way to start a weekend in my new town and excellent training for my Bali Triathlon next month. The next morning I was back on the bike again and managed to beat my 20km cycling best with a time of 34 minutes.

Cycling in Downtown Jakarta

The great thing about being able to motivate myself to exercise in the early mornings on weekends is that I get the rest of the day to spend with my family. Last weekend we had time to go shopping together, visit the zoo, go swimming and relax in front of some movies. As I get older I realize more and more just how important it is to balance one’s life. For me this means working hard at my job, but also putting as much time as possible aside in order to achieve a healthy personal and family life.

On May 10 Sofi and I will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary by taking our son Percy to Bali. I am excited about spending time relaxing with my lovely family and we have very kindly been lent a beautiful villa on the island by a colleague. It will also be a good opportunity for me to practice my open water swimming, which will come in handy for next month’s Triathlon – an event I expect to be the biggest fitness challenge of my life so far since I am terrified of swimming in open water. This is yet another example of stepping outside the comfort zone but I remain confident that I will be able to also overcome that fear too. To put it in Tom Hopkins words “Do what you fear most and you control fear.”

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