The “Comfort” myth

The “Comfort” myth

When you are hungry you will do anything to get your next meal. There is an urgency in finding what and where you can eat. You will even be able to spot places that you would have ordinarily not seen if you were not hungry. In the same way, I believe hunger is important in life. When it comes to money it is normal to fear and even loathe hardship. When we are in tough financial situations, we just want to get out. We want to get back to the comfortable space. As a society we even aspire comfort so that anything that’s the opposite seems like the wrong place to be.  Reality TV shows sell us the ideal comfortable and flashy lifestyles where people seem to have no problems. If you look around at the numerous bill boards, they are full of happy smiling people in their new home, new car, dream holiday, fast growing business, corner office job, perfectly behaved children, sparkling house etc. People even choose careers that they think can give them this life. Others get into relationships that promise this life. But reality TV is not true. The model who posed for the dream car advertisement goes back to her one roomed house to deal with everyday struggles. The bank marketing manager- the brains behind the smiley happy faces on the billboards- is buried so deep under so many levels of debt. You just won’t notice it at the company cocktail. This kind of life is an illusion. An illusion that many people are struggling to keep up with.

We have stopped appreciating hunger or hardship. We have started believing that there is something wrong with that picture and everything right with the billboard version of life. If you are struggling to survive you are seen as a failure. People even fear telling their partners about financial issues lest they are judged. Medial highlights the success story of the entrepreneur via the current house and car but they do not talk about the auctions that happened along the way, or even in his or her current success, the issues they have with everyday working capital. Then the young start up business person thinks something is wrong with them when they are not making money instantly. Whatever version of survival you are going through it is valid and it is in fact what builds you (Click to Tweet this thought). Of course you want to get past it but there is nothing wrong with the fact that you are going through it. If used correctly it gives you that sense of urgency, which just like the food, makes you see things you would otherwise not have seen.

Elizabeth* was retrenched from her job a year ago. It was because of that experience that she started her own law firm. Not only does she have a job, she has created jobs for five other people. She still struggles. Paying salaries is not easy but in this, she has discovered a niche market by focusing on family businesses. This would never have come out if she was in a comfort zone. Mark on the other hand had a lot of debt on his plate. Instead of playing victim he took it upon himself to get out of it. His family has a farm and he started selling vegetables and fruits at work. Yes, the kind of solutions most people don’t want to hear because they are worried about what others will think of them. He now earns an equivalent amount to his salary through this. He still works but is now building a very lucrative side business. There are many more examples of great things people have done out of discomfort.

Most people are not comfortable so there is nothing wrong with you. In fact, the person you admire has built what they have because of constantly being uncomfortable. Constantly having an urgent situation at hand to deal with.  Then of course there are those who just pretend. To have nice things and to live well is not bad but that cannot be the vision of your life. Don’t aspire to earn more money just to be in a bigger comfort zone (Click to Tweet this thought). There must be something else to keep you hungry enough to see things differently. If you feel you are comfortable, then do something to get out of it. Some people are finding themselves very liquid. They have enough money for day to day and even extra.  This liquidity makes them spend recklessly. You need to make yourself uncomfortable to avoid that, for example get into an investment that removes excess liquidity from you. Challenge yourself.

It’s not just the money. It can be time as well.  If you find you have time to binge watch all possible TV shows, then you need to get into some sort of activity. Whatever discomfort you are going through, use it to your advantage. Don’t compare it with somebody else. Our hardships will always look different. From my experience, the best lessons on money, come when you don’t actually have money (Click to Tweet this thought). The thing that is making you hungry today could be simply paying the bills. It could be getting out of a financial bind. It could be building a business. It could be realigning your life after a divorce. Whatever the case see the process through. Even after you’ve gotten through the current situation, another one will rear its head. That’s real life. The perfect life that is often sold to us is an illusion. Just like a quote I once read says “A comfort zone is a beautiful place to be, but nothing grows there”.

Waceke runs a course on Personal Finance Management, Centonomy 101 and an Entrepreneurship Program, The Centonomy Entrepreneur (click for more details). For details email her on |Facebook/Centonomy| Tweet @cekenduati 



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  • Doreena Deborah

    Very brilliant piece. The issue is to convert the pain of hardship into a positively creative venture. Thanks, Waceke.

  • Kaji Muna

    I just loved this article. Its so enlightening.

  • Sarah Qui

    Am starting to love discomfort. Great piece

    • Thank you for the feedback Sarah and please do share with a friend…

  • Ngatia

    so true,i wondered why some people were very generous days after pay day but decreases as month progresses.