Tag Archives: Comfort zone

A Once Familiar Route, or Planning to be Disoriented

Every once in a while I become aware of the changes that have occurred in my routine for various reasons.  For years I headed east from my house – for work, family, errands.  Everything that I needed or wanted was pretty much east with the rare exception.  When my workplace actually moved closer to my home, my usual radius became about 6 miles, mostly east.

 

And then my life changed and now my well-worn route is south and north.  Work is south, with a slight alteration thanks to the onset of construction season.  (A quarter mile section of my regular road is being completely replaced, requiring me to go over a mile out of my way…)  New personal commitments and interests send me north several times a month.  Occasional jaunts take me to once familiar areas east of my house.

 

But I digress.  A person that I know is starting a new job this week, and my one of my sons started a new job a couple of weeks back.  Both are pleased with the opportunity for full time employment.  Both are interested in doing a good job and succeeding.

 

A new job is exciting. But it is also unfamiliar and disorienting.  A new routine, all new co-workers, tasks, procedures, culture, etc.  When we start a new job, we look forward to the additional money, the opportunities to use our skills.  We forget to think about the disorientation – all those new names and faces, the different commute – so much change.  That disorientation can really bite hard.

 

It wasn’t so long ago that I was in the midst of it myself.  At least being a writer helped me because of the necessary skills in observation and identification.  I never stopped being able to identify with new people at my previous job.  To help them to understand why their head was spinning.  Even still, I had to have more than one talk with myself when starting my current job to remember the plan.

 

How can a person plan to be disoriented?  A big part of the plan is just that – to know that it will happen, that it is a normal part of a new experience.  Normal means it happens to almost everyone.  The next part of the plan is to know that it is temporary.  Fairly quickly something will seem familiar, and then another something and another.  Friendly faces will offer assistance, ease the transition.

 

There is so much to learn and acclimate to in a new job, many go from being the person that everyone goes to for the answer to the person who feels lost.  But you are still you.  You still have the skills that got you the job, they just have to be applied in this unfamiliar place.

 

Long ago this was a familiar route to me.

Long ago this was a familiar route to me.

Things that we look forward to – a baby, a job, a house, a move, a marriage – are stressful because everything that was once familiar suddenly is shifted and disorienting.  If it was an anticipated change we have trouble figuring out why we are discombobulated, disoriented and we get frustrated.

 

Sometimes familiar routes cease to be current routes, but fairly quickly the new route becomes familiar.

 

© 2015 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Caution and Risk

Just the right balance between these two forces seems to be not only the key to survival, but also plays into success.  Cautious people live to tell their tales and to raise a new generation, but they might not have taken enough risk.  Risk takers might have gone a bit too far and checked out early.

 

I just spent some time with a couple of four month old kittens.  Sisters, one just a tad bolder than the other.  Kittens instinctively know that a certain hesitancy around new things is prudent, but they also have a strong need to know – what’s in here, can I fit in there, can I jump high enough, will this hold my weight…

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Natural laws and human rules provide some boundaries for their explorations.  A thing just beyond their reach is terribly tempting, conversely after a few minutes with the thing it loses its charm and they are off to the next thing.

 

How do we find that right balance for ourselves?  Thoughts of if only I’d done or not done this or that might mean that we were too cautious or too bold.  But maybe only in hindsight, too.  I bought my house right before the housing crash so I shake my head at the amount of money that – on paper – has disappeared.  But I’ve had the benefit of living in the house for the last nine years and being removed from the townhouse complex where I had previously lived.  So, do I count this in the good or bad category?  Hmmm.

 

Stay or move, keep a job or switch, invest in Microsoft (wish I had) or buy that car which provided mobility (when it wasn’t in the shop).  Get married, have a baby, buy a house, retire now – here or there?  Caution or risk?

 

I’m not sure that I will ever figure out just the right balance, but the consideration is worthy of a few more years of research (also known as living).  When have you been overly cautious or entirely too risky?  Or maybe you have gotten it just right?

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

A Sense of Place

I have never lived in one place as long as a decade, though I am coming close with my current house.  I think that this has given me a very purposeful perspective on how sense of place affects us.  I’ve tried to talk to friends who have had more continuity of home but mostly had a ‘what are you talking about’ result.

 

A sense of place is the feeling of belonging, of feeling that things are right, content.  Right time, right place, right people.  The house and town where you grew up, plus your family and community, surround you and give you the context to decide who you are and what you are about.  If they stay constant, they are almost invisible participants in this process – at least background or scenery in the story of your life.  Although you may have a strong urge either to replicate or escape them.

 

If they change regularly, or at a crucial time in your development these elements might become more than background, they might shape a part of the story.  They might, if you are me, pull into the foreground and make you wonder who you might have been had the circumstances changed.  Had you stayed in one of the places, say?  Or a different location had been chosen.

 

At one point, my dad had two opportunities to move up to run his own council – one in the Chicago area and one in Port Huron, MI.  He took the opportunity in Chicago.  I was already in my late teens, but I do sometimes wonder how the alternative might have affected things.  It is possible he had other conflicting opportunities leading up to previous moves, but I only know of this one for certain.  I do know that he entertained the idea of leaving Scouting when I was in mid-grade school due to a bad situation with council leadership.  He stuck with it and we ended up in Portage MI and I had my own room, plus that was the biggest house we ever lived in.

 

I have come full circle in a way – the first house that my parents actually owned was in Hoffman Estates IL and I have now lived in 2 different houses in this village as an adult.  Moving back to a childhood place was a bit of a comfort at a difficult time in my life.  Familiar places reduced the stress of unfamiliar problems.

moving out-8-28-99

My nomadic childhood has led me to think a lot about community.  About what draws people together and conversely sets them apart.  About how important community is for well-being, for stability – financial and emotional, for opportunity and support.

 

Having no strong sense of place linked to a physical location, I developed a strong sense of place within myself and within the group of people who make up my family and close friends.  I have also taken to collecting things that remind me of people and my past.  Nearly all of the items in my house have history.

 

I hope that you have a sense of place that gives you comfort.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

A Near Complete Lack of Curiosity

I never fail to be stumped when I encounter a person with a near complete lack of curiosity.  I can’t even bring myself to say that the person may have a complete lack of curiosity.  I have to qualify it, and hope that the person has some curiosity about something that I just don’t see.  It just doesn’t seem possible to me that a person could have zero curiosity.

 

Sure there are things that I am not interested in at all, or so I believe right now.  I would have said that was true about beer until last June when I sat through a talk that my son wanted to attend and the panel brought up the history of beer and tied it to some things that I am interested in.  Heck, I find myself feeling curious about math at times now that my niece is so taken with the topic.

 

But there are people who just want to be told to put that there and twist this a half a turn and move on.  They don’t want to know why.  They don’t want to know how the thing came to be in front of them or what will happen to it after it moves on.  Huh.  I am curious why that is, what is it about their make-up that left aside the wonder?  I can’t fathom it.

Nov 1997-Are they gone yet

Sure, curiosity killed the cat but lack of curiosity narrows.  Or at least it seems to me.  I would like to have a conversation with someone who has no interest in learning new things, who is content within their comfort zone.  Has that person ever had to deal with big changes?  In my experience life brings alterations, from tiny to seismic, fairly regularly and my curiosity has helped me to get resettled.

 

What importance do you place on curiosity?

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Social Media Samba

I realize that I haven’t written about LinkedIn in a long while.  (I have to admit that I haven’t allotted much time for LinkedIn lately – shhh don’t tell them, it’s bad for my SEO.)  It is hard to keep up with all the content that can be found for perusal on the social media sites – and there is plenty that is worthy.

 

Do you do social media?  Are you tweeting and Facebooking and connecting on LinkedIn?  Or all of the other social media sites that seem to pop up every week.  I have no idea what the latest thing might be in terms of social media but I’m sure there is someone to tell me what I should be doing this week.

profile-plea

I do have a social media presence because I do get that it has merit.  It provides a great topic for interaction with new acquaintances too.  Ask a person about their social media engagement and you will find out quite a bit about that person.  As much, or maybe even more, than you would if you brought up one of the taboo topics of religion or politics.  Everyone has a position on social media.

 

I have found that it equates a bit to dancing – hence my title today.  (Plus I just liked the alliteration.)  Particularly for people of a certain age.  Do you dance – are you on social media – seem to cause many people to become self-conscious.  Fear of embarrassment.  Fear of doing the ‘wrong thing’.

 

While I wouldn’t advocate going out and standing in the middle of the dance floor and moving with the abandon of a 3 year old, I think that we should all be aware when we stop ourselves from doing something because of the fear of embarrassment.  Look at all of the public figures who have overcome some amazing faux pas.

 

Come on and pick the rhythm of your choice and stretch your social media muscles.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Change: Affinity vs. Ability

Life is so much nicer all around when we like what is happening; what we are doing, where we are living and so on.  Sometimes we forget that there is a difference between liking, affinity, and skill at a task, or ability.  We all have skills that we could use to our advantage but often don’t because we just don’t have the affinity.

 

I’ve met plenty of people who, without saying it straight up, think that they will know they are on the right track because everything will snap into place – life will be easier and smoother if they are in the right place.  If things are difficult, it must be the wrong direction or place or whatever.  How many times have you been in a discussion with someone who shuts you down on a topic with something like, ‘oh, I’m not any good at (fill in the blank)’?

 

The world is ever changing.  (public domain image)

The world is ever changing. (public domain image)

Math doesn’t have any sort of magic for me like words do, I just don’t have much of an affinity.  But I have come to understand the importance of having a math competency – in financial dealings at the very least.  I will never gravitate to math, but I can be proud that I can master the more important math concepts and make use of them in my life.  And I have discovered that there are fascinating parts of math – statistics and economics do stir my curiosity.

 

We don’t get to arrange all of the pieces of our lives so that we can focus only on those things that we like.  (We’re lucky to arrange most of them, the big ones hopefully.)  And it isn’t always clear to see when you are on the right track, because that track might be just as bumpy and difficult as the wrong one.

 

Writing is a skill that makes plenty of people grimace, I both understand and feel consternated about this fact.  But like math for me, it is an ability that can be developed to serve your overall purpose.  You can like what a competency in a certain skill brings you without having an affinity for the concepts of the skill.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

What Has Your Comfort Zone Done for You Lately?

It’s comfortable, I know.  But there needs to be more, yes really.  Now, I’m not suggesting something outlandish like going camping with nothing more than a tarp and a book of matches.  (In fact, I’m not suggesting camping at all, there are limits to going outside of your comfort zone.)  We don’t have to endanger our lives to shake up the limits of our comfort zones.

c1907 camping, photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

c1907 camping, photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

 

How many people do you know just keep doing something that doesn’t particularly fill them with joy just because it is familiar?  The evil that we know, as the saying goes…  If that something is a job, or a relationship maybe it will just take a bit of thought about how to freshen it up a bit.

 

Or maybe it would be to take a step or two in a forgotten or new direction.  When was the last time that you drew, or danced, or sang, or grew something, or biked, or, or, or?  Things drop out of our lives, or interests get forgotten as we settle into our adult pattern.  My dad kept his hunting gear in the bottom of his closet through move after move even though he didn’t hunt throughout my childhood.  He returned to it in retirement and his eyes would light up as he told us about it.  I have a picture of two camouflaged hulks standing in my kitchen from his turkey hunting adventure with my then-husband.

 

This picture both makes me smile and sad.  Why did he feel that he had to turn aside from this activity for so many years?  Finances certainly played a role, but perhaps didn’t need to be the absolute hindrance that they appeared.

 

I remind myself of this when I miss out on yet another Broadway in Chicago event because I couldn’t justify the cost of the experience.  There is huge benefit in trying new things and revisiting old interests.  I say this as much to myself as to any reader.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Patterns, Collections & Repetition

What is it about a certain thing that makes us want more?  It makes sense that we want to categorize things, like solving a puzzle by snapping the pieces into place, we know what we need to go and find based on the items that surround the missing piece.  But most of us want to create combinations of things that are pleasing.  Either by shape, size, color, texture, sound, usefulness – what have you.

DSC03754

Patterns can also tell us when something goes wrong and help us to figure out how to set it right again.  When one customer tells a company that they are having a problem with a product, it might be assumed that it was an anomaly but when the same complaint comes up again and again then the company better get busy on that pattern.

 

I used to watch my mom sew clothes when I was little.  There was a pattern to her whole effort; deciding what was going to be made, going to the fabric store to pick out all the needed items – which included the pattern to make the piece of clothing – preparing and cutting and then finally sewing.  Some of the pattern pieces made sense right away – you could see it was going to be a sleeve or other recognizable part.  But some of the pattern pieces looked quite random, they only made sense when combined with other pieces.

 

Collections can be useful or informative, say tools, or aesthetically pleasing.  My dad had quite a few tools, some had been his father’s before him.  The hand tools were made to last, worn smooth by years of use.  My grandfather’s power tools were a bit scary since they were produced long before safety features had come into being.  Belts and other moving parts were all open and ready to snag a finger or worse, not hidden behind plates and covers as they are now.

 

I think that I am in the majority in finding comfort in my collections and something soothing in repetition.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

An Acceptable Level of Chaos

The known and the unknown.  Order and its opposite – disorder, mess, chaos.  The traditional dramatic struggle is between good and evil, but every day life’s struggle is in the intersection between order and control or varying levels of chaos.  Even people who aren’t drawn to structure, who are comfortable in ambiguity, need some touch points of order – normalcy.

 

Whether we actively and consciously understand our own needs for order, or we lash out in unease caused by too much chaos too close, every one of us has an acceptable level of chaos.  When we can still mostly function, beyond which we get bogged down.

The Course of Empire Thomas Cole, 1836 - public domain image

The Course of Empire Thomas Cole, 1836 – public domain image

 

Somehow I learned fairly early on that I could create some of the structure that I need to feel comfortable in my environment.  I am thankful for this since it has greatly helped me to navigate my life.  I know immediately that when anxiety starts to build that I should take a breather, mentally take stock in all that is going on around me and identify a few simple things that I can straighten out.  I know that to press on will be foolish – and yet sometimes I press on.

 

Even knowing the level of order that I prefer, having such an interest in problem solving as I do, I am finding that the level of complexity in our modern life – the amount of oversight and active monitoring that is necessary on my part to get an acceptable level of service from the companies and people that I interact with – is exhausting.  I can’t begin to imagine how people who have a much stronger need for order, or people who find standing up for themselves a challenge, manage these interactions.

 

I didn’t mean to sound stilted in this post, but I am trying to wrap my head around a solution to this encroaching chaos.  It feels too close lately, in too many areas of my life.  Naming it is the first step to a solution.  Finding joy, or having a laugh will reduce the anxiety while I continue to sort through.  Finding some easy wins will give me a little boost of energy to press on.

 

How are you managing your chaos?

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Anticipation Deficit

Ten years ago this month much of my extended family was eagerly awaiting a planned trip to Ireland.  Mom would travel with the boys and I, we would meet my brother and sister-in-law in Dublin.  It was a wonderful trip and we still bring up highlights today, particularly poignant because mom died later that year.

 

Mom did most of the actual planning – she had been to Ireland twice already herself and she had more time.  I didn’t really care too terribly about specifics, I had just always wanted to go.  I did want to see a castle (and saw the outside of several, but we went in off season and most were closed, so a reason to plan a follow up trip one of these days).

dsc03394

There is plenty of research that gets touted that tells us anticipation is better for us than the actual event.  Planning and preparing, imagining how it will be, having something other than or regular routine to capture our minds – this is powerful stuff.

 

I have been so busy slogging through the every day, and trying to catch up to a to-do list that is overfull that I haven’t given my anticipation deficit any thought until today.  At Christmas my sister-in-law asked if this was the year for a family weekend at Wisconsin Dells since we have tried to plan one every couple of years.  I had to nix it due to finances, darn it all.  (There is something to be said for extending yourself for an experience, but also something to be said about getting yourself to a certain financial stability, too.)

 

I am good at planning for the practical both personally and professionally, but I am woeful at planning for enjoyable future activities.  I get the idea to go somewhere and will start to read about the place, or I hear about an event that I probably would like; but then I get bogged down in the logistics or something else comes up to claim the money I would have put toward the experience.

 

When I do manage to get out of my regular routine, I am rarely sorry.  But it is often last minute, therefore no boost from anticipation.  Any suggestions to push through my planning barrier would be highly welcome.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

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