We’ve all been there. The moment when you realize that you’ve reached a plateau. You’ve checked off the mastery of every skill on your professional “to do” list. It’s been months, maybe even years, since you had the exhilarating, albeit terrifying, feeling of keeping your head just above the water line. You feel a certain sense of accomplishment coupled with a feeling of comfort in knowing that you’ve got this.
So what comes next? For myself, and I would venture to guess many of you, there’s a moment when the easiness of living in your comfort zone begins to feel a bit like a weight. A moment where you realize that complacency has begun to creep in along the edges of your safe haven. And that’s when we begin looking. Looking for the next thing to feed our creative spirit, our driving work ethic or even our core need to keep learning. When that moment strikes, here are five keys to help you step out of your box and into your next adventure.
Be Open – The key to stretching past the safe place you’ve become accustomed to can be as simple as a change in perspective. Take time each day to observe your organization through a brand new lens…the lens of opportunity. Look beyond the usual places to see where you might take on a new challenge, solve an existing problem, learn a new skill or join a new team.
Be Willing – Now that you’re seeing a little farther than usual, open your mind and heart to accepting a new challenge. It’s one thing to see a new opportunity and dip your toe ever so slightly into an unfamiliar pool. It’s quite another to jump in with both feet and commit to trying something brand new and beyond your usual boundaries.
Be Vulnerable – Trying something new, stretching yourself and risking failure is an exercise in vulnerability that may seem unnecessarily terrifying. Ships are safe in the harbor, but that’s not what they were built for. Vulnerability is not the same as weakness. It’s simply an acknowledgement that you’re open and willing to trying something new and with that comes a fear of the unknown that is 100% normal. Embrace it. Open yourself to learning – and failing – and that feeling will disappear before you know it.
Be Honest – There’s a reason your comfort zone is comfortable. It’s where everything is known and familiar. Moving forward requires a leap of faith into unknown territory. Conduct an honest assessment of your current skills and your knowledge gaps. Being honest with yourself puts you in a position to ask for help when you need it, seek out opportunities that are a good fit for you and push beyond your limits in a healthy and meaningful way.
Be Brave – Trying something new requires a healthy dose of courage. You have it. You just need to summon it. Be prepared for some frustration, maybe a little embarrassment and a period of feeling like the earth is constantly shifting under your feet. It will pass. And when it does, you will soon realize that your boundaries have shifted, your perspective is wider and your professional toolbox is a good bit more robust!
I have found that the most meaningful experiences in my personal and professional life have come when I am most willing to set aside my own agenda and try something new. It’s always a little uncomfortable, but in learning to embrace that discomfort I have discovered new pathways that would never have been opened to me otherwise. Take the leap and stay tremendous!