The idea comes from that favorite old fairytale of the lost girl tasting bowls of porridge left on a table by three absent bears.
It’s also often used by astronomers searching for other worlds on which life might exist.
I talked to a group only recently about how the elusive our personal Goldilocks zones can be.
How we can spend years, or even decades, becoming very proficient at some skill or other without ever feeling the deep satisfaction that comes from doing the thing you feel you were really born for.
As in… you wanted to be a carpenter but your father pushed you into accountancy instead (which happened to my dad). Or, you’ve proven yourself in sales but would much rather be a fishing guide. You know how it is. Of course, we can adapt, we get by okay, but life can drift by with an underlying sense that some essential part of us remains undeveloped.
But shifts can happen. Just days after my GoldiIocks speech, astronomers from California’s Berkeley University and the University of Hawaii came up with good news – that one in every five Sun-like stars in our galaxy has a planet which is a similar size to Earth and could potentially be habitable.
Data gathered over four years by Nasa's Kepler telescope hints that the nearest Earth-like planet with temperatures kind enough for life could be orbiting a star that is only 12 light years away and visible to the naked eye from our blue planet.
It all sounds quite hopeful until you muse on how far 12 light years actually is. Just one light year is about 9.5 trillion kilometers (the distance you’d cover if you could travel at the speed of light – 300,000 kilometers per second). Multiply that by 12 and you begin to appreciate the immensity of the distance involved. Or not. The numbers are just too big to get to grips with.
So finding the outer-space Goldilocks zone remains a big dream, yet to be realised. And finding our own ‘just-right’ zones can be devilishly difficult too.
All we can do is to copy Goldilocks and keep on trying spoonfuls of experience.
You’ll know your current way of living or working is too hot when it leaves you burnt out, frazzled, wilting, almost literally ‘fried’ at the end of the day.
It’s too chilly when the thought of even getting through your day leaves you cold, your soul feels under-fed and you know your vitality is shrinking.
The just-right zone is exactly that – a space of abundance in which you can expand your natural talents and fulfill your potential.
If you think you’re not there yet, don’t stop the hunt. For all of us were born upon this Earth with a yen for some activity or career or artform or skill which is our true zone of contentment.
The best news is that just as there may be multiple planets in our galaxy that can support life, we may have more than one Goldilock zone in our own lives.
Getting skilled at one thing (and being happy in it) is no reason to stop looking for the next area in which you can sigh, “Aah, that’s so good.”