The instructor drew a circle on the whiteboard, said This is the Comfort Zone. There’s no risk of failure here because you know the job, but there’s no development, either.
Then he drew a circle around the first one: This is the Stretch Zone. You might fail, but it’s within your capabilities. You need to be here if you want to get better at what you do.
And this is the Danger Zone, he said: the third circle. If you’re here you need to recognize it, and get out as soon as possible. I’ve seen guys stay here too long, and it’s not good.
I was pretty sure that was me. I left my job for the one I’m in now so I could challenge myself, and continue to grow. But if you follow the metaphor of “stretch goals,” a body can break if it stretches too far, too long.
Comfort is good if you’re camping, flying, helping the aged, or infants. Comfort at work can lead to complacency, and if you’re comfortable with your art, consider how long you can remain there and still create something you feel good about.
There’s the kind of stress that leaves you with insomnia, crow’s feet and teeth grinding. Go for the other kind instead, when you sign up for your first marathon or climb a mountain. It won’t be comfortable, but you’ll be proud of yourself for doing it.