Where should I even begin to talk about getting outside the comfort zone? Perhaps, I shall start with what might interest you the most – by being open and honest about my journey as a senior Tech recruiter who moved to Hong Kong around two years ago.
Before the move
Let me give you a bit more context before we get into the very heart of this topic.
More than two years ago, I was living in Ireland, working as a Tech recruiter covering the different European markets. Professionally speaking, I was possibly at the top of my career, working in a very successful team, dealing with great clients, and had business coming in without making much effort. To sum up, I was in my comfort zone. Personally speaking, I was struggling to really blend in with the local culture, city atmosphere and code, and in particular, creating genuine and long-term relationships with people. Therefore, a desire to explore outward emerged, progressively taking up more space in my head.
“Am I where I should be? Is this the right place for me both personally and professionally?”
What happened next, you might’ve guessed. I decided to move to Hong Kong and Asia, to experience a new culture, new ways of working and to live a completely different life than the one I had gotten used to in Europe.
Taking that leap
With every relocation, you may lose a certain aspect of comfort. In my case, I had to give up a good position at an established firm, being close to my family and friends in Europe, and a strong sense of security, where I was surrounded by people who I love and would support me regardless of what happens.
This might make you wonder why I decided to leave at all, but with everything you lose, there is also the potential to gain something new, and it’s exactly this desire of getting something in exchange that prompted me to make the move without looking back.
This specific trade-off is not for everybody though. Back then, I had no strong familial obligations; I realise now that the situation can be very different when you have a family and need to consider others instead of only thinking for yourself.
Being established in Hong Kong
Does being more established in Hong Kong now mean that I don’t get out of my comfort zone?
I’d like to believe that’s not the case. In our line of work, the comfort zone doesn’t exist. I would even go further in saying that the comfort zone doesn’t exist in a city like Hong Kong; and if it does, it’s reserved for those with higher social privileges. You have to fight for everything you care about, whether it is family, friends, or work, as you’ll be left behind if you can’t keep up. This is further strengthened under the unfortunate pandemic, where you might even lose your job if you’re not fighting hard enough.
Benefits of getting outside the comfort zone
It might feel like returning to the gym for the first time after months of lockdown, you won’t like it and might even question why you’d put yourself in that situation. Don’t worry, that is perfectly normal, it is just your auto-defence mechanism kicking in to help mitigate mental or physical pain. Ignore the temporary pain, stay focused on your end goal, don’t be too harsh on yourself, and see failures as an opportunity to learn.
The biggest benefit in getting outside the comfort zone is the self-acknowledgement that you’ve achieved something new and difficult. The first person who can value your efforts is you, so look in the mirror and smile. Self-confidence is important and you will need it to reach the top of the mountain.
Adopting a new diet, developing a new habit, discovering a new hobby, or making a career move, stepping outside your comfort zone is something everyone should do occasionally. Life will not be as exciting if we don’t take it upon ourselves to make it challenging.