Do you remember what it felt like when you thought you could do anything? If you experienced any kind of success when you were young — as I did — you know what I mean. There was a kind of exhilaration and eagerness — a feeling that the world was about to open up and make all your dreams come true.
And then the dream eventually starts turning to nightmare. Not immediately. Not all at once. The years move along. You do well but don’t reach the spectacular success you dreamed of. You’re not the brilliant young know-it-all anymore. There are some bumps and bruises along the way. You’re no longer the talented genius moving up the ladder toward ruling the world.
And then you start settling. You settle for less than the success you planned. You’re being paid well, so why would you take any risks? You settle for a relationship with someone who doesn’t know you and doesn’t really care to try. But it’s stability and people think you’re lucky, so why would you take any risks?
If this is you, Warren Buffett just tweeted some advice for you.
“Don’t ever be afraid to turn the page and start a new chapter of your life,” Buffett wrote last week. “There’s so much in this world to be experienced. So many amazing people that you can meet and a lot of opportunities waiting for you if you step outside of your comfort zone. Don’t be too scared to take chances.”
I got stuck in my comfort zone for a long time, especially when I was working in politics. I knew I needed a change. I knew the work was slowly sucking the life out of me. I knew I needed new people and new opportunities in my life. But I stuck with it for many years — wasting time and opportunities — because the money was great and because that was the path of least resistance.
Years ago, I heard that if you knew what you wanted, the best thing to do was to “leap and the net will appear.”
In other words, you don’t need a magnificent, foolproof plan to change your life. You don’t need to be able to see the future. You don’t need to be able to predict exactly what’s going to happen. Plans and calculated roadmaps are nice, but you don’t have to have them.
Over and over again, I’ve read that studies show the regrets of people at the end of their lives deal with chances they didn’t take, not with chances they took or failures they had. They regret that they never had the courage to pursue what they really needed. They were afraid to take the leap — because they didn’t have faith that the net would appear.
Nothing interesting happens in your comfort zone. You won’t find satisfaction or happiness. The truth is that you know where you’ll find satisfaction — but you’re too safe in your comfort zone to accept what is waiting for you.
When I picture a leap into the unknown, I think of it as jumping off into a gigantic portal in the sky — a pathway to something magical and new. When I took this picture of a sunset last week, I found myself perceiving it as such a portal. I was standing at the top of a high hill — and I felt as though I needed to dive into the beauty and chaos of the unknown — with faith that what I needed was already waiting on the other side.
Remember what Buffett wrote in his tweet: “Don’t ever be afraid to turn the page and start a new chapter of your life.”
You might find that it’s time to turn a particular page of your life and start a new chapter. That might involve new people and new places and new challenges. It might involve risks. It might involve letting other people think what they want. There might even be a price to be paid.
But if you’re holed up in your comfort zone — using the status quo as a bunker where you can be safe and stagnant — you’re never going to find the satisfaction and happiness you need. You’re never going to experience the best you can be.
You know which page you need to turn. You know which chapter you need to start. Take that leap into the beautiful unknown — and have faith that a net will appear.