Two weeks ago, I went to a first for the city I live in (Wellington, New Zealand). TEDx, the prestigious event for spreading ideas finally came to town – in the form of TEDx Te Aro. My girlfriend and I went along to see what ideas were going to be shared(and to support her mum, who was speaking) and I came away empowered about how complacent we all are.
When you work full time for a business, you get comfortable. I mean really comfortable. Every day is somewhat the same, so living a life of going through the motions is easy. You get caught up in a world that talks about performance reviews, salaries, performance, business meetings, red tape and there’s no space to innovate. To do something new. To lead the way.
Going to an event like TEDx and hearing from speakers that are shaking up the world (and their every day lives) by doing things that would be considered crazy or risky is inspiring. Their ideas are what started their journey, and it left me questioning both myself and humanity as a whole:
How can people possibly sit still and not want to change the world?
How do people find happiness by just following orders and doing the same thing every day?
Why aren’t we just doing the thing we’ve always wanted to, and following our dreams?
How come we’re still in the same spot as last week? Or last month? Or five years ago?
All I could come back to was comfort. The fear of change. Of risk and being in the unknown. How are these things so terrifying?
Comfort is an interesting concept. For me, when I’m comfortable, I feel like life is slipping away through my fingertips. Time is quick, because my brain doesn’t need to think twice about what to do. Days fly by. Weeks fly by. Things are easy, but life seems to just pass by.
Getting a full time job and a stable income is the goal of most young people these days, and the simple reason many of them go to university. They’re willing to throw away hopes and aspirations of changing the world for a nice 9-5 job that pays the bills and allows a “nice” living standard.
The thing that confuses me is, when I think of spending ten years in an office, just for the sake of money, that’s a terrifying thought. A waste of life. You might be alive by definition, but not actually alive at all. When you’re watching the clock, looking forward to the next paycheck or counting the days until your next vacation, you’re doing it wrong. You might have the illusion of happiness, but these are clear signs that you’re not doing that thing you should be doing.
The crippling realization of this is hard to come to terms with, and often more confusing than you may believe. You may love working in the industry you’re in and you’re likely pretty good at what you do. Hey, there’s even plenty of room for you to grow.
…but you may suddenly realize not sure it’s the right place to be. These subtle things that creep in, such as the constant watching of the clock are signs that it’s not right. Signs that perhaps, while you can, it should be considered that there are more satisfying and meaningful options out there.
This is comfort.
There’s a special type of excitement that comes with doing something completely uncomfortable. Quitting your job. Starting an exciting new business venture where you set the rules. Going overseas to a country that doesn’t speak English.
One of my favorite examples in the New Zealand market is PledgeMe. Bored of the ‘normal’ ways of funding projects (generally by begging family and friends), Anna and the team started a platform – not too dissimilar to Kickstarter – for using the power of crowdfunding to achieve goals that previously wouldn’t have been easy to get to. Giving people the power to break out of the norm and do things they wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.
Doing these things involve learning experiences and the audacity to strive for something outside the textbook definition of normality. By never allowing ourselves to become too comfortable – complacent, even – life can be continually full of experience and learning. Time doesn’t fall through our fingers as fast as when the same thing is happening over and over. New experiences are created. The world can be changed.
I don’t have a success story of how I got out of the cycle and started my own business yet. It seems hard. I don’t even know where to begin. Every day we hear about the next big start up getting a round of funding, but it seems impossibly hard to get there. But the first step is actually doing something crazy. I have ideas, that’s all I need.
Don’t wait until tomorrow.
Never sit still.