They say that at the boundary of your comfort zone, is where you grow the most. I’ve usually disagreed with that statement for one main reason, and this week has solidified that opinion. The exact place that you’re supposedly supposed to grow, evolve as a person, be changed for the foreseeable future (if not forever), is not a place that the word comfort applies. Rather, my version of the concept is this:
At the boundary of your tolerance zone, is where you grow the most.
I can say that with confidence because mine has officially been tested this week, and evolved my perspective from that test…
I’ve realized that three days in a row I haven’t, in the grand scheme of corporate life, had all that much difference in my days. Each day I’ve had some meetings, deliverables due, some form of overcomplexity, unnecessary barriers and change communicated all while dealing with semi-pleasant colleagues, crap coffee, no privacy and inability to observe any conversations but my own due to extreme language barriers as my “on paper” experience. Obviously some of the degrees of affect posed by each may have varied slightly.
Monday I came home raging. Tuesday I came home annoyed and frustrated. But today I found a way to be productive, satisfied and even grateful. A main thing was critical to that overnight transformation…
After 2 restless nights, a whole lot of conversation in my own head, a few inspirational stories from a great book my mom gave me right before my wedding (Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff for Women by Kristine Carlson) and Sean’s commitment to trying anything and everything to support and comfort me, I looked at the bigger picture around me and drew a line in the sand for myself. I am in Amsterdam for 2 years of my life… one of the few places on earth that, at the deepest rooted core values level, work to live and don’t live to work. This will probably be the last 2 years of my life until retirement that I have that luxury, having the event of starting a family on the horizon and the role as breadwinner to support it.
So I repeated this epiphany to myself about a dozen times on the tram this morning. And and I felt relieved. I wasn’t so annoyed at every obnoxious, demanding, even rude emails that arrived in my inbox. I didn’t stress over the minuscule amount of days that we were going to miss the target launch of a program I had not even had input on setting the launch date for. I proactively approached colleagues, offered to go get coffees in the cafe and finally connected with a new employee of mine who had been rubbing me the wrong way since the day he started. It all became a lot less urgent, critical and draining. And you know what the ironic thing is? I actually felt more productive today than I had the previous 2 days combined.
And so the lens I’ve committed to for the next two years is that. Work to live. And by live I mean… deepening my relationship with my husband, traveling to unbelievable places that I have only dreamt about or read about in Travel magazines, meeting new people, learning a new language and culture, improving my health & well-being, reflecting on the past and preparing myself for the future, and of course finding plenty of time for friends and family I miss dearly back home.
My work week may have gotten a little shorter, but my attitude and productivity will benefit. And as long as a paycheck follows to support the life outlined above….that’s good enough for me, and I can make sure it’s good enough for any next employer of mine when I return home.
What changes in perspective have you had lately? And has it made your days become more positive?