Many people have claimed that the only way to figure out what’s truly meant for us—be it for career or love life—is to step out of our comfort zone and just go for it. Not gonna lie, hearing this piece of advice is mind-blowingly inspiring. It’s how we discover that one soundtrack that changed our lives forever, or the person we’d eventually spend all our life with (cheesy but true!), and even the career path we’d ultimately devote our whole employable lives to.
But when you’re *actually* ready to follow this piece of advice and set out on your career goals, a question will pop up in your head: Just how far out of my comfort zone am I supposed to go? Should I throw myself into the deepest end of the waters for maximum growth? Well, it doesn't necessarily work that way.
An article on Psychology Today by Mira Brancu, Ph.D. discusses the processes of creating certain experiences that would shape our career for the better. In the article, experiences considered as “career-defining” are ones that: allow you to learn and stretch how much you’re capable of doing, give you “growing pains” or mistakes that teach you lessons, and put your capabilities to the test.
When it comes to putting your capabilities to the test and stepping out of your boundaries, the author suggests to keep in mind that the career-defining experience should be “outside but adjacent to your comfort zone.” Meaning, it’s okay—and actually encouraged—to try new and unfamiliar things, as long as it’s still something that's not ~too~ far off from what you're used to doing.
Assuring success in our careers won't readily happen without taking chances and treading unfamiliar paths. After all, there's only so much a college degree can do. We still need concrete experience in the field to shape us and teach us career and life lessons not taught in school. But it's still important to note that we don't have to set out too far out of our comfort zones just yet. Instead, we take on the tasks we can handle with our existing skillset until we're able to develop new skills and swim further and further.
So, when you're setting new career goals--or just life goals, in general--going out of our comfort zones can take one step at a time.
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