Brilliant golden rays shone down over the grassy hills this weekend, as 4 of us gathered at the tee box on hole 1. When my turn came, I placed the ball, fell into a comfortable stance, and started my back swing.
Within seconds, the club came crashing down, striking the ball with a resounding smack. And the ball took off!
Rocketing off that tee, that ball shot straight to the right, landing somewhere well out of eyesight, and probably a few fairways over.
A couple more shots like that later, and my vastly more experienced golfing companions offered me some timely advice. My stance was too far away from the ball, and the only way to improve was to step closer. But there was one big problem. That felt uncomfortable, unnatural, almost unpleasant.
But the next shot was perfect. And as my entire golf game started to turn around, I started to improve.
While I might never become a professional golfer, there is certainly a lesson to be learned from that time spent chasing a little white ball around a grassy field. If you want to improve, you need to step outside your comfort zone.
Just as my golf game was poor when I was stuck in the rut of “comfortable”, we can all find areas where we have become complacent.
These comfort traps exist all around us. Staying in a job that doesn’t excite or push you anymore simply because it’s a job. Falling into the same old routine with a significant other, rather than pushing for new exciting experiences. Or sticking with your current spending habits, because changing them is uncomfortable, despite knowing that without change those financial goals will forever be out of reach.
This state of comfort is actually costing us greatly. 2018 statistics released by Stats Canada show that the average amount contributed to savings for those under 35 was less than $5,000 annually. This number is alarmingly low, especially for those entering their prime earning years. But the comfort of current spending too often wins out over the sacrifice for long-term gain.
Let us assume that retirement is in the cards for this average Canadian. $5,000 per year, put aside for 30 years in an investment portfolio earning 5% annually leaves a nest egg of just shy of $350,000. That amount won’t fund that dreamy retirement for very long. But small, uncomfortable cuts to habitual spending could drive that savings number much higher. A little discomfort, paired with compound interest over several decades would drastically change that retirement goal outlook.
Being comfortable is the antithesis for growth. To grow, to develop, to become better, we need to embrace discomfort. Maybe that’s changing your financial habits. Or learning new skills to move to the next stage in your career.
By stepping out of that comfort zone, we are able to grow, to improve, and ultimately achieve more.
Where can you step up to the ball? Where can you embrace discomfort in your own life? What changes will you make to shake up the familiar and expose yourself to new levels of learning and growth?