Here’s a good question to reflect on: when was the last time you stepped outside of your comfort zone?
Comfort zones exist for a reason; they provide a sense of peace and safety, and the confidence that comes from knowing what to expect. As such, they do an excellent job of protecting us from danger, impulsive decision-making, and potential embarrassment. However, the flipside is that our comfort zones also protect us from growth.
Sometimes, a comfort zone is just a cleverly-disguised cage, holding you back from achieving your true potential. When you’re “comfortable” in a position, you stop striving for greatness, which means that you stay in the same place rather than moving forward. Although staying still can seem like a good thing at first, it can too often hold you back – especially when it comes to standing out in your career.
Here are five ways your comfort zone might be holding you back from achieving your professional ambitions.
You’re Not Reaching Your Goals
Everyone wants to feel comfortable in their jobs; we spend a large portion of our lives at work, so it’s crucial to feel satisfied with what you do. That’s why organisations invest so much time into company culture to attract and retain the right talent.
However, when you’re too comfortable in your position, you can begin to be swallowed by it. Eventually, you realise that you’re not making any progress towards your long-term goals, you’re just standing in place.
There’s a common idea among successful people that you’re either moving forward, or you’re letting your ambitions die. If you stay in the same place for too long, you may miss out on opportunities to explore new roles and challenges that improve your quality of life.
You’re Not Networking
The easiest way to change up your work life and step out of your comfort zone is to look for ways to network and collaborate with others. Take advantage of opportunities to work on challenging projects with others on your team. Even if you discover that you don’t like the work, you’ll still be investing some time into networking, which can be crucial for your future.
Whether it’s done online or in person, networking can be challenging; talking to people we don’t know and advocating for ourselves are things most people would rather avoid, regardless of their qualifications or experience. However, expanding your professional network is an essential part of career development in today’s competitive job market.
Not only will regular updates on LinkedIn allow your network to keep up with the work that you’re doing, but it can also serve as an excellent tool for recruitment. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the next big step in your finance career, just because networking was outside of your comfort zone.
You’re Afraid of Change and Failure
Fear isn’t always a bad thing; it can sometimes keep us safe from dangerous experiences. However, fear of change in the modern workplace is often detrimental to career development. With the ever-changing landscape of the finance sector, if you’re unable to evolve with the times, you may find that your career is stuck in a rut.
Often, a fear of change in the professional world comes from the desire to avoid failure. We assume that if we stick to the things we know, we’ll be less likely to make mistakes. However, the best employees know that they need to take risks from time to time.
As with being afraid of change, being afraid to fail will keep you a prisoner in your comfort zone. Rather than going after the banking career you really want, you’ll only focus on what you know how to do. We shouldn’t be afraid to fail, however, because failures pave the way for improvement and growth.
You’re Not Developing New Skills
The only way to discover your potential in any career is to experiment. You only find out more about yourself when you take on new challenges and explore unique opportunities by pushing your limits.
Trying new things in the workplace improves your chances of thriving in your career. You’ll learn more about what you like and dislike about your role so that you can pursue positions that suit you better in the future. Plus, you show that you have an experimental side with new experiences to place on your CV, which improves your chances of standing out to a future employer.
Twenty years of employment as a relationship manager is excellent, but not if you haven’t gained anything from it. On a successful finance professional’s CV, you’ll see endless accomplishments that came from each of the roles they took on, no matter how long they stayed with a firm. A career is much more than just a profession; it’s a way to develop your knowledge and talents as an individual.
You’re Starting to Settle
Finally, if you stay in your comfort zone for long enough, then you might be conditioning yourself to settle. Even if you’re no longer happy in your role, you’ll tell yourself that it’s better to stay where you are than try something new.
However, this prevents you from pursuing a life where you’re delighted by your career. You may even reject opportunities to grow and explore new things because you’re afraid of the uncertainty the future holds.
The most successful people know that sometimes, to accomplish great things, you need to be willing to embrace change. You don’t have to be a risk taker, but you should be confident in yourself to know that if you do fail, you’ll learn from it and grow from it. It’s therefore critical to be confident in your abilities and know your worth.
Future employers want to see that you are willing to try something new as evidence that you’re motivated and passionate in your professional endeavours. Don’t let your fear of the unknown or of failure hold back your career; you alone have the power to transcend the boundaries of familiarity and comfort that you’ve established for yourself.
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