7 Steps to Push Your Career Beyond Your Comfort Zone

With these simple, concrete steps, you can embrace discomfort, push yourself into career-launch mode and see massive returns.

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By Steve Taplin

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

A career is something you build on small successes and failures. But if you want to push your profession beyond your comfort zone, you will need a backup plan. Becoming successful in your work requires you to do what others cannot or will not do. With the simple, concrete steps below, you can push yourself into career-launch mode and see massive returns. These steps include taking calculated risks, learning from mistakes and embracing the unknown. Let's discuss each of them in detail:

1. Get comfortable being uncomfortable

Instead of fearing discomfort, you should embrace it. The more often you do something new and out of your comfort zone, the more comfortable you will become with doing that thing.

This will lead to an increase in confidence. The more confident you are, the easier it will be to do things outside your everyday routine. You will start seeking opportunities to stretch yourself or take on additional responsibility because you know that even though these things may make you uncomfortable, they are another way for your profession to grow.

You will also inevitably get better at whatever makes someone uncomfortable — whether it is public speaking or managing other people — and this makes those hours spent practicing worthwhile. The knowledge gained through experience sets a foundation for future success in any field.

Related: Get Out of Your Comfort Zone, Take Risks and Run With the Big Dogs

2. Take risks but minimize risks as much as you can

The best way to truly learn is by doing. The only way you are capable of doing that is by letting go of your fear. Take calculated risks, but make sure the odds are in your favor. The crucial decision is knowing when to take a chance and when not to. Here are some tips to help you minimize risk as much as possible:

  • List all of the things that could go wrong if you do not take a chance (or if you do). How will it affect your life? Your career? What are some potential consequences? If this is not worth risking everything on, it is not important enough.

  • Identify what might happen if something goes right with this project or idea — how will it help your profession? Will it lead to more opportunities down the road? Does this have long-term benefits for yourself or others around you? Does this have short-term benefits for yourself or others around you?

3. Be prepared to venture into the unknown

The only way to be prepared for these situations is by experiencing new challenges. Try something new every day so that when an opportunity arises where you need to venture into the unknown, it will not seem like such a big deal.

The more comfortable you become with stepping out on your own, going against norms or doing whatever it takes, it will not feel scary because now you have experience using those tools and honing those skills in other areas.

4. Learn from your mistakes, and move on

Many say that failure is the best teacher, but what they do not tell is the best way to learn how to fail better next time. If you are constantly trying new things, pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone and making mistakes along the way (as long as they are not too costly), then there is no way for you not to improve — and fast.

Related: The Most Important Career Lessons Are the Ones You Learn From Your Mistakes

5. Do not let what others think of you limit your success

It is easy to get stuck in the opinions of others, but this can stop you from making good decisions. If someone is telling you not to do something, and they do not have a good reason, then ignore them. What is important is your own opinion and what feels suitable for you. People may have told you that something was impossible or would not work out, but if the situation suits your ambitions and goals — go for it.

6. Put yourself out there

If you want to be successful, put yourself out there. This means taking on new projects and responsibilities that can help you grow in your profession. When you put yourself out there, you learn more about yourself, what motivates you and what your strengths are. You also know more about what kinds of projects or responsibilities make you uncomfortable or nervous.

By identifying these areas of weakness, you can figure out how to improve them. When future opportunities that require this skill set (or lack thereof) come around, they will seem manageable.

7. Dream big, then work toward making it happen

When you are dreaming big, you must be prepared to take risks and venture into the unknown. However, this does not mean you have to go all in with no plan to recover if things go wrong (as they inevitably do).

When planning for success, keep these things in mind:

  • Be prepared for failure: Think about what could happen if your plan fails, and work through those scenarios so that you know what steps you would need to take next.

  • Take small steps at first: Start small, and take one action at a time until you get closer to achieving your goal. Then move on until you meet your goal.

Related: How To Achieve Meaningful Career Advancement

Push yourself beyond your comfort zone to rise in your career. You may think you need to make the right move when you take risks, but the truth is that if you do not go out of your comfort zone, how will anything ever change? Pushing yourself out of your convenience zone can help you grow professionally and personally by helping build confidence, courage and strength. It will also help develop resilience, an essential quality for success in any field.

Steve Taplin

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

CEO of Sonatafy Technology

Steve Taplin is the CEO of Sonatafy Technology (www.sonatafy.com), a premier nearshore software-development-services firm that provides its clients with expertise in cloud solutions, web and mobile applications, ecommerce, big data, DevOps practices, QA, IoT and machine learning.

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