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10 Tips for Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone and Fuelling Professional Development

Expert Panel Forbes Council Member 

YEC COUNCIL POST, a 5-minute read 

 In both personal and professional realms, growth and progress are often the outcomes of embracing challenges and pushing beyond our comfort zones. Within the workplace, this means professionals who actively seek to challenge themselves may be more likely to experience accelerated development and fulfilment in their careers. 

Below, Young Entrepreneur Council members explore various strategies for stepping outside the confines of your comfort zone and delving into uncharted territories within the work environment. By venturing into new areas, taking on unfamiliar tasks and embracing discomfort, professionals can unlock their full potential, acquire valuable skills, cultivate resilience and foster innovation. 

1. Ask Peers or Colleagues for Advice 

Being confident in situations outside of your comfort zone is a sign of experience and one that only comes with practice. While this will look a little different for everyone, a great way to know where to start is by asking trusted peers or colleagues about areas they've observed in which you have room to grow. Chances are those skills and areas that are a bit weaker are the areas that don't play to your innate strengths. Once they've been identified, you can look for opportunities both within your day-to-day and your long-term goals to challenge yourself. If you don't grow as a leader, your business will stagnate and your competition will overtake you. - Leila Lewis, Be Inspired PR 

2. Take Risks and Accept Challenges 

If you intend to step out of your comfort zone, take risks. If you are faced with a decision at work, don't always opt for the safest choice. Similarly, when you encounter a new challenge in your personal life, please don't shy away from it. It's important to move in a direction that challenges you, even if it feels intimidating or scary. To step out of one's comfort zone can be daunting, but taking on challenges that scare you can be your best decision. You need to take risks to achieve the results you want, and more often than not, it's worth it. - Chimezie Emewulu, Seamfix Limited 

3. Leverage Your Skills to Volunteer 

Volunteering to provide your skills to a non-profit is a good way to push your comfort zone and test your intuitions in a different space or industry you are not 100% comfortable in. This is also a place where you will be looked at as a volunteer as opposed to the company leader and where your vote is not the final decision. - Torrey Tayenaka, Sparkhouse 

4. Network with Industry Professionals 

Between LinkedIn and the rise of virtual events, in-person networking has become somewhat of a lost art. Business professionals today should challenge themselves to sharpen their in-person networking skills through events, conferences and mastermind groups. The biggest challenge here is to network for the sake of knowledge and without the urge to sell or seek a higher-paying position at another company. I recommend this for personal and professional growth because it forces people to connect on grounds that 

they’re unfamiliar with. You can learn a lot about yourself by simply seeing how someone else in another role utilizes the same software you’re using or how they’re taking a different analytical approach to solving similar problems and making decisions. - Ian Blair, BuildFire 

5. Take A Course on An Unfamiliar Topic 

I think a straightforward but intensive way to challenge yourself is to do a full course on a subject you don't know. For example, data analytics is incredibly relevant and popular right now. But if you're a creative person, you may find this uncomfortable. However, I believe that when you do something completely different from your normal activities and preferences, you grow as a person. More importantly, you'll get the opportunity to combine disparate information and knowledge into something exciting and new. So, do a serious course on a new topic and this will also give you certifications and credentials you can leverage in a new career. - Blair Williams, MemberPress 

6. Try Getting Vulnerable 

In times when we feel like we are failing, that is the best time to learn. Hiding our struggles leaves us alone in the process of overcoming. By being vocal about wrong turns, you can get feedback from others and ideas for how to overcome or handle things differently next time. - Marjorie Adams, Fourlane 

7. Live by Your Principles 

I believe one way that professionals can step outside their comfort zones at work is by adopting and living by a set of principles that encourage continuous learning and growth. This may mean setting personal objectives that align with these principles and are slightly beyond their current capabilities. For example, if one of your principles is to always keep learning, challenge yourself to master a new skill that can benefit your role or team. Living by such principles promotes a mindset of constant evolution and improvement, pushing you to accept new challenges and strive for greater heights. It's not just about being better at your job; it’s also about evolving as an individual. By doing this, you're creating a dynamic work environment for yourself where stagnation is not an option. - Yury Sokolov, Finazon 

8. Design Challenges Around Your Weaknesses 

One way professionals can step outside their comfort zones at work is to start by explicitly asking for feedback and actively seeking opportunities to improve. By proactively requesting feedback from colleagues, supervisors or clients, professionals can gain valuable insights into their strengths and areas for growth. Following up with specific questions helps drill down and identify patterns in the feedback received. Designing activities or challenges based on this feedback can then help build those skills or immunize against fears. Embracing this process of seeking feedback and engaging in targeted challenges enables continuous growth both personally and professionally, fostering a mindset of learning and improvement and expanding out of areas of discomfort. - Benji Rabhan, Aboutly 

9. Work with A Coach 

I hire professional coaches who can train me or upskill me to help break my barriers or comfort zones. I might hire a sales coach, a business coach or a marketing coach who will listen to my challenges and help me to overcome them. This is very important for entrepreneurs to do. Every year I see which area I need help in and then I hire an expert to help me break that barrier. - Piyush Jain, Simpalm 

10. Be Comfortable with The Uncomfortable 

Never settle. Always seek out ways to improve your situation and self. Continuously challenge yourself to learn new things, meet new people and see new places. With your career, explore new ways of accomplishing tasks, network constantly and follow the latest trends. Set lofty goals that challenge you, and don’t be afraid to take some risks. Do your best to accomplish big goals, but also learn from the lessons and mistakes along the way. Also, be willing to pivot and adapt as needed. Be flexible. Above all, teach yourself to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. The best things in life require hard work, dedication and perseverance. The willingness to take the hard path and ask the tough questions is what brings about the greatest growth and pushes you to succeed. – Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker.

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