“If you get scared, there’s a burger place near the station”

This phrase was said to me this week by one of my oldest friends. The context is that I am visiting him and his girlfriend in Tokyo, Japan right now and was going for a bit of shopping and lunch by myself. It’s not my first time, but it has been 4 years since I was last here, and due to the pandemic my solo traveling skills can feel a bit rusty.

So when I confidently proclaimed to my friends that I would venture out and walk the 15 minutes to the nearby station to have a look at the stores in that area and grab lunch, he offered me this bit of comfort – if it gets too much you can just fall back to what you know.

This felt like both a personal challenge (because no way would I opt for a burger when in TOKYO!) and an analogy of my current work situation. After being employed by Meta for over 12 years I was laid off earlier this year. I took a few months to brush up on my French skills, read loads of books, launch an album with my Jazz ensemble, play a music festival in Italy, and now visit friends in Japan.

I needed this break because I had gotten so used to working for the big tech company (♾️), and while I learned a ton and am extremely grateful for my growth in those 12.5 years, I was ultimately spoiled and borderline institutionalised (think free food, health insurance, phone, laptop, etc.). So getting laid off meant I had to do some “adulting”.

This also included figuring out what I would do next for work. Which took a while to ponder. The “easy” option would have been to apply for learning partner roles at other tech companies. But I knew quickly that I no longer wanted to go back to that. My heart was telling me to seek out work that would make a difference in people’s lives. And so after much consideration I decided to become a full time coach.

Which brings me back to my Japanese lunch. I could have gone with the familiar option of a burger. But the joy of trying new things means you get to grow more and discover unexpected things. Some will be good and some will leave a bad taste in your mouth. But if you don’t leave your comfort zone every now and then, you will 100% miss out on some of the best things in life.

I went with a semi safe choice of a rice triangle with what I assumed was salmon. It was filling and yummy. And on my way to the till I picked up a squishy little green ball that had some pistachios on the packaging, and I’m happy to report that inside that wrapper was THE most delicious pistachio flavoured Mochi I have ever had in my life.

So if you’re facing the option to go with what you know or trying something that’s maybe a bit new and scary, go for the latter and enjoy how you’ll evolve and grow.

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