By: Grant Verhoeven
Is your motivation for going to work in the morning dwindling? Are you sitting at your desk constantly thinking about what else is out there?
Moving away from the tried and true can feel paralysing. However, the rewards of pushing beyond our boundaries can be well worth it. Stepping out allows us to explore new opportunities, try new things and ultimately navigate the job-hunting landscape with more confidence.
But why is it so hard to get out of our comfort zone? Experts point out that our comfort zone is designed to keep us safe and that we are creatures who like routine. It provides us with a state of mental security, reduced stress and limited anxiety.
I see more and more clients getting stuck. Often these are professionals who are mid-career with commitments such as children and mortgages. They find themselves not liking their work but are scared to make a change.
The pace of change in the world means we need to be more adaptable when out of our comfort zone. With the rise of automation, globalisation and technology, there is no longer the same level of certainty in our work. The Foundation for Young Australians pointed out that the average 15-year-old will have a portfolio career, potentially with 17 jobs and five different careers over their lifetime.
Based on more than 1000 coaching conversations, here are some of my top strategies to boost the chances of success when breaking out of your career comfort zone.
1. Give something new a go
Trying something new, no matter how small, breaks the cycle of the routine. This could be driving a new way to work, starting a new hobby or even giving public speaking a go. Remember, success breeds success – so start small.
2. Tap into what you would love to do
Tap into your motivation for future change. What activities give you energy and make you thrive? Write these down. A friend of mine took a risk – quitting a job to move on to something that gave him a greater feeling of purpose. He said, “If there is something you love and have wanted to do for a long time, you need to follow it. There is no point getting to the end of life and wondering ‘what if?’”
3. Think about your past successes and push repeat
How you have succeeded in the past is a guide to how you can succeed in the future. Think about the approach you took and the things you found easy to do. When looking at your next step, think about whether the role includes the tasks and activities that suit your personality and skills.
4. Break it down to the ridiculous
By breaking down goals into small steps, they become more manageable. Ticking off the steps as you go will also give you a sense of satisfaction.
5. Surround yourself with the right people
If the people we regularly share with are positive, then we become positive. If they are negative, focusing on why things can’t be done, we follow suit. Think about the people you would like to work with and be like, and if they are not in your current circle – ask.
So take a breath, take stock and work out whether it is time to break out of that comfort zone. If so, take a small step – this will often be the hardest. And if you need to engage the services of others to help, don’t be afraid to do so. After all, I believe we all deserve a feeling of achievement and joy in our work. Don’t you?
Grant Verhoeven is a professional career adviser and director of Sparked Careers, a Wellington-based career coaching and consultancy firm.