Once you get in a cozy spot, it's hard to get out of it. Some call it laziness. I call it human nature.

When you get into your comfort zone, it's easy to get complacent and let life whiz by you. It takes the form of a lot of things. Maybe it's a job with good security that over time it's become nothing more than a paycheck at the end of the week. It could be just doing the minimum required coursework at your school just to get that piece of paper that says you went to college for four years. This even applies to athletes, naturally gifted individuals who do the bare minimum amount of training to stay successful on paper.

I've been threatened with complacency in all these areas. In college, it was a good thought to just go to class, turn in my work and get on with life. The saying in school is "class really gets in the way of college." It's true, some of the greatest things in college that everyone should experience take place outside of the classroom. However, if all you've done is coast through with no extra application, when you finally walk down the aisle in a large gym wearing a gown and that ridiculous looking square hat, what then? I saw several of my friends go to class and have their afternoons taking naps, being able to stay out late while I had to go run. Being a student athlete really put a cramp into my social life sometimes.

Then came Imagewest. My ultimate throw down with complacency.

Knowing the job market was going to suck and that mom and dad weren't real thrilled with the idea of me leeching off of them out of school, I knew I had to do something to stand out. Imagewest provided that avenue. Working there several extra hours out of the week ON TOP OF classwork and my track team schedule wasn't convenient. Spending extra hours at night working on projects wasn't comfortable. Ultimately it was rewarding.

I graduated college and within a month and a half I became employed as a Marketing Coordinator for an incentives company in Chicago. That extra real experience with Imagewest is what put me over the top of other applicants that may have spent their time doing the minimum (not all though...several awesome dedicated applicants in there too). Complacency tried making a sneak attack on me here as well. I have an awesome job spending time working with social media. In a nutshell, I earn a paycheck working with Twitter, blogging and Facebook. It became tempting to just get by here as well. Retweet a couple of followers, BS a blog, and just kinda read some articles for further re-tweeting.

However, I'm giving complacency another swift kick in the face. I'm not just doing my job - I'm making it better. It's not just about being employed, it's about being irreplaceable. Everyday I go out and learn the new practices in B2B social media, where the audiences are shifting. I read up on the latest things in the incentives industry so I can blog with more authority. I take on challenges at the office outside of my job description such as video and writing product copy. Learning everything I can anytime I can will pay off dividends down the road. One of our company VPs always stresses the "consumption of information." I am finally beginning to see the merit to that statement.

I'm taking that challenge outside the office. In my non 8-5 time, I'm picking up free-lance jobs, one client at a time. From this experience, I'm making new relationships, learning about more industries, sharpening my skills and most importantly:

Getting me out of my comfort zone.

Stuck in your comfort zone? Plan an escape. Like any exercise routine, it's rough to get it going but the end result is always worth it.