I have one of those old-school alarm clocks with a built-in CD player. It can be programmed to use any track on the CD. I like the simplicity of the setup and the minimal song choices. For years, it was set to “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses. I was younger then and didn’t mind jumping out of bed. As I become older, nearing the big 5-0, I have toned it down a bit. My body doesn’t move as well at 4:15 AM.
My choice for the last couple of years has been “Rusty Cage” by Soundgarden. The first twenty seconds is a low-key riff that continues to build for another twenty, then starts to get a bit wild. That first twenty seconds gives you the chance to make that critical snooze decision before your brain gets rocked.
I love and detest the snooze button. It can give you a few extra minutes of shuteye or completely wreck your plans for the day. On snooze days, my workouts are the first victim. I may end up hitting the snooze three times and then resetting the alarm for 6:30 AM. It all seems to go downhill from there.
Working from home for the last year has led to the snooze button being used more often than not. I convince myself I can work out at lunch. If I’m going to work out at lunch, there is no need to shower until after the workout. I stumble to the kitchen and start the first pot of coffee. While waiting on the magic juice, I log in to work and check out my calendar for the day. Sometime around 8 AM, I sit down with coffee and breakfast. Another pot of coffee will follow soon, and then it will be time for lunch. There is no need to brush my teeth if I am eating soon. If I’m not going to shower or brush my teeth, a t-shirt and underwear will be the proper attire for the next few hours. I look at the clock, and I am shocked that it is 4 PM. There was no workout, shower, brushed teeth, pants, and no progress on anything I wanted to do today.
Your first thought should be that I am a train wreck. You would be partially correct. In the last six months, I have gained ten pounds, lost fitness, and watched my writing projects screech to a halt. The only thing that makes me a partial train wreck, and not a full train wreck, is that this is where I want to be. I have accomplished part of the “Pants-free for life” goal.
I decided I needed help getting back on track. I was in a hole, and I needed someone to dig me out. Someone I know had to have a solution to this challenging problem. I took a mental inventory of my options for advice. The choice came down to my wife or three of my closest buddies. I’ll pause so you to give that some thought. If I want the real reason causing my issues and a total solution, my wife is a clear choice. I wasn’t ready for that level of honesty. I chose to invite my three buddies to a Saturday afternoon of beer and pizza to discuss the issue. This seemed like the most logical choice at the time.
Saturday afternoon rolled around, beer and pizza were disbursed, and the usual conversation ensued. After thirty minutes of the typical guy conversation, my issues were brought to the table. I laid out my day and started diving into my perceived issues. Have you ever looked at someone and thought they might slap you at any time? That was the look all three were giving me. I found myself wondering if I should have taken this issue to my wife instead.
I will spare you the unsavory parts of the conversation. All three came to the same conclusion.
I was too comfortable.
This was a bit of a shock, to be honest. Wasn’t the life goal to be comfortable? Turns out it’s not. Well, it is, but only to a certain point.
When your level of comfort leads to a halt in progress, you are too comfortable.
As with most issues in life, comfort was just the surface issue. We needed to figure out what was driving me to stay in this comfort zone? This was a legitimate conversation that we all approached with sincerity. After much deliberation and a few cold ones, we came to our conclusion. The root of my issues came from not being challenged in my career. Deep down, I knew this wasn’t my final career stop. Even though my end goal was to be a full-time writer, I still needed to be challenged at my day job. I was using that as an excuse to stall progress in other areas of my life.
A career being an issue is not a new concept. In this case, I had a great job. I worked for a great company and had a great team. Not to mention, who in their right mind would leave a stable job in this economic climate?
Being challenged held more of a grip on me than I realized.
A career change and reducing the snooze button usage would take some time. There were other areas I could start working on now. We started going through the list. I never imaging being an adult, and my friends telling me the first step is showering and brushing my teeth before 8 AM. The next step was a simple step of putting on running shorts and a collared golf shirt. It was not surprising that a shower and clean teeth gave me an energy boost. I was quite surprised at the effect of wearing a real shirt and shorts.
I saw an immediate increase in my writing output and a decrease in the snooze button. It was just a few weeks later that a new job popped up. My progress is getting back on track on all fronts. I feel better about myself and the direction my life is moving.
The moral of this story is not to run out and switch jobs. Making a career change is a big deal. There are more manageable changes you can make in your life. You just need to look for them. Or, have someone help you look for them.
That comfort zone may not be giving you the comfort you really need.
It might be time to bring back “Welcome to the Jungle.”