After working from home for two years, my comfort zone turned into a restrictive bubble without me realizing that it was happening. A vacation trip to England is what it took to finally wake me up to the fact that staying secluded in my office day after day was having an insidious impact on my mental health.
I work remotely in an office space in our garage that’s separated from our house. This allows me to be in solitude for large blocks of time. Being an introvert, this has been a form of heaven for me. But after two years of working from home, my world had shrunk down to a radius of only a few miles. Days were going by without me ever leaving the driveway.
Off to England
For most of my life, travel has meant going to a warm weather location or resort. And this is something my wife Caitlin and I have only done on a few occasions. The thought of going to another country seemed further and further out on the horizon… a someday, maybe type of thing. But living in the bubble had reduced my view of travel to locations we could drive to in under a few hours.
This changed over the summer when we found out that our daughter Chloe would be studying abroad in England during the fall. While I knew this was her intention, it really didn’t hit me until she informed us of her decision to accept and move to England for the semester. Thoughts began to race through my mind. We had to figure out the logistics of getting our daughter settled in another country. We had to renew our passports which we hadn’t used in years. We had to figure out how we were going to make this all happen financially. Living in my bubble had heightened the level of anxiety I was feeling about things that I knew we would find ways to manage and make happen.
Fighting the Bubble
Fortunately, Chloe stepped up and figured out the overwhelming majority of logistics for her dream adventure. And my sister-in-law, who is very close with Chloe, generously volunteered to travel with her to help get her settled. That allowed Caitlin and I to wait until November to visit, after our daughter was already familiar with the location.
However, as the date of our flight to England approached, I found myself continuing to have heightened levels of anxiety. Thoughts continued to race through my mind. Something could go wrong at our house while we’re gone. Will our dog be okay with my sister-in-law? What if one of us loses our passport? Our luggage could get lost. What if there’s a problem with security and we miss our flight? These thoughts continued right up until our plane took off. The bubble was fighting hard to keep me inside.
Launching Myself Out of My Comfort Zone
Everything changed when the plane landed. I let go of the ruminating thoughts and allowed myself to enjoy the experience of finally escaping the bubble. I was now on vacation in England with my wife and daughter. A sense of wonder set in as we explored London which is an amazing city. My mind began to open. I was feeling creatively inspired as I started taking pictures and documenting each day in my journal. We had an amazing vacation that was long, long overdue.
I realized that my self-created bubble was a comfort zone on steroids. Traveling to England finally burst that bubble and launched me out of this comfort zone in a big way. It was a wonderful experience that I’m incredibly grateful for. I’m not sure when we’ll have the next opportunity for international travel (dreaming of Italy). But I’m not going to wait for the next vacation to find creative ways to keep my world from shrinking back into that bubble again.
Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”Seth Godin
While I love working from home, I’ve realized that it’s more important than ever to create breaks that force me to get out into the world more often. This can be as simple as taking a ride during my lunch break, or choosing to work in a cool cafe for the day. Working remotely can make it easy to settle into a pattern that can create a restrictive bubble. But it can also be a wonderful opportunity to create a life I don’t need to escape from… well, until we go to Italy.