Applying for jobs just out of college or grad school, comfort may have seemed like the ultimate goal: to find the perfect job that was a natural fit and have a long, fulfilling career there.
Forget all of that: comfort is the enemy. If things are easy, it's time to shake up your career.
Remember when you were young, and you first attempted to write a bicycle? Were you scared at first? Absolutely. Was the end result worth it? I'm betting it was.
Hopping into a new job or career path is indeed a lot like that first ride on a bike: a heart-pumping, adrenaline-inducing risk-- and the payoffs can be as meaningful as the life-changing freedom of mastering two wheels.
Getting out of your comfort zone is a must if you want to achieve extraordinary success. I like to think of it as a shift into your "strength zone": identify, highlight and hone in on what makes you unique and lean into it so you stand out.
The hardest part of shaking things up is taking that first step. It can be scary, but here are four reasons why it's completely worth it:
1. You'll uncover new skills.
If you've been in your industry or your job for a long time, you've developed a specific set of skills you use often, and other strengths may be ignored. Exercising just one muscle won't make you strong overall; it will make you imbalanced. Shaking things up in your career can help you find new areas of expertise you've never used before and strengthen them.
2. You might find a new passion.
How can you know what you love if you've never tried it? There's only one way to find out: Bite the bullet, summon up your bravery and dive in. You have more to gain by trying something new -- even if you fail -- than staying in a rut forever.
For Adam Fridman, founder and CEO of Mabbly, a digital-marketing agency, an assignment to optimize search terms at his old company uncovered a love of SEO that inspired him to found his new startup. "I had no idea when I picked up that one-off project that I would find something I loved and excelled at," Fridman told me. "Now, it's my whole life, and I couldn't be happier."
3. You might fall back in love with your old job.
On the other side of the coin, trying a new job, industry or career might backfire: You might hate it and miss your old job. Whether or not you can go back to the way things were depends on many factors, but recommitting to your old industry or a similar position after trying something new can cause you to return a more committed, passionate person and eliminate the nagging "what ifs?" that were holding you back.
4. You'll grow as a person and an employee.
No matter where it takes you -- straight up, on a roller-coaster ride or even in a circle -- stepping out of your comfort zone has benefits that outweigh the intimidating risks. Shaking up monotony with new life experiences guarantees a fresh, renewed outlook on life and your job.
I'd take an employee with a wide array of experiences over someone who's only done the same job for decades, as the former applicant is likely more adaptable, more creative and capable of tackling new and interesting challenges than the candidate who played it safe.