Breaking Out Of Your Career Comfort Zone
Often when people find themselves in new situations, they long for when that new situation will feel comfortable and, perhaps, routine. That is how jobs and work often go. You work hard to learn new skills that will add value to the organization, and hopefully you can move up the ladder. Eventually, even that coveted job can become routine.
The truth is there no prescribed path to advancement. The route is not always going to be linear. You can put yourself in the right positions, but a lot of it comes down to luck and timing. There are, however, ways to make your own luck and get noticed. Rather than settling into the job, you can always be on the lookout for opportunities to enhance your career. Here are 5 ways to step out of your comfort zone that can take your career to a new and different level.
Learn a Different Area of the Business
Success, whether in business or personal life, is rarely a straight path. There are ups and downs; sometimes you take several steps forward and eventually have to take a step back or sideways. Sometimes to make yourself more valuable as an employee, you may have to go learn a new part of your business.
This could mean a different title or going to a department where your existing training and expertise are valued, but will require you to enhance your skill set. Many people are hesitant to make these moves even though the long-term benefits can be huge. Sometimes your best route for success means making a detour onto a different path.
Work on a Team
What is great about a team is that its product(s) can be greater than the sum of its parts. Teams bring together different ideas and perspectives, allowing a group to do something bigger and better than what any one of the participants could have done on their own.
What rarely gets talked about are the downsides to teams. What makes them risky is that your success is tied to others, and in business success is far from guaranteed. There is that chance that you could get bogged down on a subpar or low-performing team. When working on a team, part of your role is to perform at your best, but you can help guarantee the team’s success by supporting those around you. Effective teams share a common vision and goal; they communicate needs and progress, and hold each other accountable.
Working on a team can be a risk, but it is one worth taking if you and your teammates are committed to the mission and each other. When you find yourself on a team that is struggling, it may take looking in the mirror to realize what you need to do to raise the performance level of the collective.
Take on a Leadership Role
Leadership is not about job titles; it is about ensuring success, both personally and professionally, by serving others. In most organizations, there are leadership roles available that people do not recognize. Look around your company or talk to your boss about potential leadership opportunities. Often they are things like:
- Volunteering to own a small piece of a project.
- There may be a need for more experienced employees to mentor newer employees, either formally or informally.
- Find out if any of the wellness or morale-building initiatives in your workplace need assistance. These are often employee-driven and they can always use assistance and new blood to get involved.
Some people have no problem speaking up in a meeting. Others view it as a huge gamble. However you feel about it personally, when given the opportunity—in a meeting, workshop, brainstorming session, wherever—share your idea(s), voice your opinion, or even voice an opinion that is not yours.
Again, some people read this and do not think it is a risk at all while others quietly keep to themselves until someone comes around to pry information out of them. It is not a matter of being right or wrong, but if your inclination is to be on the quiet side, challenge yourself to speak up more. Organizations need to hear from different people with different thoughts, perspectives and experiences. Those that are reluctant to voice their opinion are sometimes just shy. In many instances, they are very thoughtful too. There is a lot to gain for your personally, and for your organization, if you go out on a limb to speak up and share your thoughts more in group settings.
Volunteer to Give a Brief or Presentation
If you have been working on something that is important to the higher-ups, volunteer to brief them on the matter. With increased visibility and exposure comes higher expectations, but remember, you are the expert. The C-suite is intimidating to some and they will do anything to stay out of it, but this is a good and healthy risk to take. So long as you prepare, it is a chance to show poise, expertise and ownership of an issue or topic that is important to the company. Most executives are going to want to hear from people throughout the organization. If the opportunity presents itself, raise your hand and let your boss know you would like to brief the big wigs, then go knock their socks off.
Some of these are second-nature to some people and to others they would have never crossed their mind. For employees that are interested in advancing their careers, you have to keep your head on a swivel and recognize opportunities that others miss. Every day there are opportunities to move your career forward, even if it is a small step forward or sideways. It may always be easier to stay in your comfort zone, but to showcase your value and continue that climb, recognize and seize those opportunities that others miss.
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