WARNING: Article may include clichés. Cos life is like that.
Sometimes it is the right moment to move onto new challenges. Often people find themselves bogged down in security. I don’t just mean financial security, but also secure in their knowledge and their professional field when perhaps they might find happiness elsewhere. Maybe there is potential still to be unlocked.
There is so much to be learnt in a new job and accompanying such learning is considerable degree of uncertainty. Everything is often foreign to the new employee, from the daily details of the work to be done, to the people and policies in the "new company". Whether we like to admit it or not the nearer we get to it the more daunting a proposition it can be. However it should be viewed as an extraordinary opportunity. After all, we all started somewhere.
We are heading towards an age of enlightenment in the workplace.
I hardly need say that I believe life should always be about challenging oneself and doing the best one can. Not a ground breaking or controversial opinion, I know, but I think if any human can look in the mirror on occasions (and of course none of us can all the time) and say I have done everything as well as could possibly be, then it can be argued that it has been a life well lived.
But there is more.
I feel that we are heading towards an age of enlightenment in the work place when it must be recognized that what one does should also be fulfilling. This must be recognised by employees themselves, not just by their employers. Perhaps this is the subject of another post but this kind of job and life satisfaction is inextricably bound to finding a challenge that enriches your life experience and therefore it is or should be a driver to looking for a new challenge.
By stepping outside your comfort zone you are likely to stretch yourself to areas unknown, achieve things you may have thought unachievable and indeed find fulfilment where you didn't know it was hiding. 15 years ago I never thought I would be where I am now, even if it is in my own small way.
The Grass May Actually Be Greener on the Other Side
Of all the things you might do to improve your life, switching career can often be a particularly difficult step. The financial dependence and the emotional security of a salary can feel like some kind of umbilical cord. But even if you are not ready to ditch your worldly possessions in search of a lightweight existence this comfort of the known should not be something that stifles your ambitions. The question; what if I fail? should not prevent you trying something new, even a new job.
It is important to look around you every now and then - to look for challenges to tackle and to look for things you may actually enjoy more. I have referred to this in the work place but in truth these could be professional or personal challenges. In order to get the best out of yourself and therefore continue giving your best you should find an environment that encourages this. As far as the workplace is concerned, the rewards of finding the spiritual happiness, for want of a better phrase, that accompanies the feeling of doing something that you enjoy must surely outweigh the perceived risks that our naturally cautious inner-self may be prey to. And yet doubt is mighty strong. What if I am no good at it? What if it doesn't suit me? What if the environment is no better?
How to find the confidence to believe.
To separate from that “umbilical cord”, to take the leap of faith, requires a certain suppression of fear or doubt. Believing in yourself to make the most of an opportunity or to follow a dream is not always easy. There are precious few of us who have not suffered from self-doubt at some time or other and I guess it’s a good quality. The thought of the entire human race running around with rock-solid conviction in what they are doing is just a little frightening.
If the thought of what you will have to learn in a new challenge, whether work related or a hobby or even a new language, holds you back then I recommend switching focus to what you have already learnt to give yourself the requisite confidence.
From time to time, take a step back, look where you have come from and what you have achieved. This is not measured in status and salary (although it could be if it helps you) but in personal growth, in ability and in knowledge. ‘What have I learned?’, for example. It could even be from a negative experience, such as; ‘what have I learned not to do?’. There are likely to be just as many of these.
So your next challenge could be setting up your own business, changing industry, moving to a different kind of role within the same company or indeed climbing Mount Everest.
Make a list.
My advice is exactly this: take a step back, reflect and make a list. I have done it in the past and it has helped me to believe in myself.
Make a list of what you have achieved, what you know and what you have learned and what you think makes you special. It doesn't matter how small each item is just write. Write them all down, one after another, write, write, write. In fact do it before reading another word of this post.
You see? It’s a lot more than you imagined. Now imagine applying not only this ability to learn but also these acquired skills to something new, maybe something you are actually much more interested in!
If the challenge is a new job don't necessarily think of it on paper, imagine where you could take it with all the experience, knowledge and ability you just wrote down. Imagine how fulfilling that would be.
If anyone is looking for a great podcast about overcoming fear and partitioning emotions check out Caroline Paul speaking on the Tim Ferriss' podcast.
Caroline Paul is an author of a number of books. She has overcome the label of "scaredy-cat" to work as a firefighter, fly planes, raft big rivers, climbed mountains and was one of the first female firefighters in San Francisco.
Annapurna by Maurice Herzog. This is an epic tale of survival in the Himalayas, from the 1950s. Herzog overcame the odds in an extraordinary mountaineering adventure.
Warning: contains a very high dose of machismo!