Press "Enter" to skip to content

The comfort zone

Last updated on November 4, 2010

Or: This must be purgatory.

It’s Friday. 5 O’clock. You have spent the week doing your job. You have your check and are ready for the weekend. You had a discussion with some of your co-workers about a game you played recently or a film you watched. You all had strong opinions and had talked about what you would have done instead. There was a moment where someone said, “let’s do something like that”. There was friendly agreement that we could, if we really wanted to. After all, you all have great ideas on what works and what doesn’t.

Why then don’t you?

What is it that stops you?

I call it the comfort zone.

In my world it is a frightening place. A place filled with “what ifs” and “should have done” and “if only I had the time”. But the underlying foundation for it all is the fear that I won’t be able to do it. I won’t be good at it.  I don’t want to fail.

I suspect this fear started around grade 6. Teachers, (whom I have a great respect for), started putting the pressure on us that we needed to start thinking about what we wanted to be when we grew up. In high school I was told, “You don’t want to end up in a dead end job with no prospects for the future, do you?” This was around the time a guidance councilor told me I probably would be best suited for a career as a gravedigger.  As Grand Moff Tarkin said, “Fear will keep the local systems in line”.

The fear we feel to perform can be palpable and can be what keeps us from, what Ken Robinson calls, the element.  “The Element is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion. When people arrive at the Element, they feel most themselves, most inspired, and achieve at their highest levels.”

Some of us find our passion at an early age, a passion that we then can turn into a career. This doesn’t always translate into a lucrative thing but can be what makes you a happy person. Sometimes it can take a lifetime to find it. It might be the Buddhist in me but I think the search for passion can be as rewarding as the actual discovery. I do believe you will know when you find it.

What you should never accept is not trying. Fear is only powerful if you let it be so. Don’t give into the fear. Don’t accept things as they are and not even try.

Find ways to step out of your Comfort Zone. Even small things can start something big. If it is a game you want to make then figure out what you need to do to make it. Can you code? If not then try and learn. If that fails then try something else. You won’t know until you try. Don’t accept your own excuses. “ I don’t have the time” is my personal favorite and one that I am always at constant war with. What am I doing that doesn’t allow me the time do try? Is it a real reason? Why do I think the reason is real?

Yes, we can be our own worse critics but we can also be our best motivator too. It’s all a matter of perspective and is part of the Comfort Zone.

Sure we can’t all be a Peter Jackson, Chuck Jones or a Shigeru Miyamoto but so what? All I can ever truly be is me. Don’t accept anything less.

I’m 44 now. I still don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up but I have decided that I love the searching. I am pretty sure that I don’t want to be a gravedigger. Not that there is anything wrong with that.


  1. Lee Williams Lee Williams November 2, 2010

    I love this piece Rob. We need to remind ourselves this every so often…and I like that quote

    “The Element is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion. When people arrive at the Element, they feel most themselves, most inspired, and achieve at their highest levels.”

    I completely agree. The creative fields keeps changing and it’s never too late to learn the new game play. You’ve always been someone I’ve seen as endless drive, endless curiosity, endless passion to stay in the game. Your thoughts here have hit home here. Much appreciated.

  2. Grant Moore Grant Moore November 3, 2010

    Excellent post Rob! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to form a team to create something great (or at least have fun trying) only to find many of us stuck in the “comfort zone” as you describe. We all live in a time when technology is cheap, software is reasonably prices (or free if you go open-source), training materials are plentiful and we have the internet as our distribution system. There is very little keeping anyone with the desire to create something great from doing so. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

Leave a Reply