by E. Elizabeth Carter
Playing it safe in life is boring. Playing it safe in your career can not only be boring but also catastrophic. What makes life worth living is taking chances and embracing change. This is even truer in your professional life, however, when people feel doubt and anxiety when they get out of their comfort zones.
One question I ask my coaching clients is “what do you do for professional development?” The answer many times is “not much” or “nothing” and they follow it up with “I don’t have the time”, “I work long hours”, or “between work and family, I am stretched thin”. However if you devoted some time to professional development you could learn new skills or enhance ones you already possess, open your mind to new solutions to a problem, and/or get a better position. Doesn’t that sound great?
Even if you devoted 15 minutes a day, six days a week to developing yourself do you realize that by the end of the year you will have accumulated 4680 minutes or in other words 78 hours of learning? Think of the possibilities!
However to be truly successful in your career you have to go beyond that. Continuous learning coupled with taking some risks is the key. Daring yourself to do something new or do something that maybe you failed at a long time ago is important for you to grow professionally. As an example I was an exchange student when I was in high school. It was a domestic program so this New Yorker lived in Santa Barbara, CA for a semester. I was required to give presentations to my school of 1800 students as well as other schools in the state about my experience. I know my talks were a bit boring and stiff. Flash forward 20 years and now I wanted to become a corporate trainer and presenter. Anxiety and fear of rejection almost stopped me so I took baby steps. I initially invited friends over to hear my presentations and then volunteered to do others for free at career transition group meetings. I also carefully watched other speakers either in person or Ted talks. Over time I continued to perfect my presentation skills and now I speak at a wide variety of corporate events and conferences, as well as serve as an Adjunct Professor at two universities.
I have taken other risks in my life and I admit some have not worked out so well, however, I realize that they were still learning lessons. So I challenge you to dare yourself once this summer. Don’t make excuses. Some ideas could be to ask for a raise or a promotion; ask for a transfer where you need to relocate or switch departments or divisions; take a class; get a certification; watch a webinar; read business books; listen to podcasts; or a really big one is ditching the job you hate and finally getting a position so you can have the career of your dreams. If it is possible for me and others then you can do it too. Now get started!