Ahhh, the comfort zone. Doesn’t it feel great to be on top of your skill set for work? Other people come to us with tough questions, and we can answer without hesitation. We are known as the agency expert in our particular area and even outside of our agency. Work comes easy when we are in the comfort zone, yet it can also become particularly unfulfilling. A lack of challenge is one of the most often-cited reasons for leaving employment and going elsewhere.
There is certainly nothing wrong with having expert knowledge and skills in our area, but sometimes shaking things up a bit can do a lot for helping with a fresh perspective and enjoyment. Whether you do something different with your key work skills or take up something on a personal basis, you can reap many benefits. There are several good reasons to tackle something outside the comfort zone.
- Working on an area where we are less skilled makes us a better candidate for future positions by making us a more well-rounded employee. Whether we are learning new skills or becoming more culturally competent, there is a great advantage in doing something different.
- Learning something new may give us a whole new peer group to interact with, with a completely new perspective from what we are used to. This can be a great way to meet new friends and expand our network too.
- Picking up on something outside of our comfort zone gives a real sense of accomplishment as we achieve small milestones. Once you have reached an expert level at something it’s much more difficult to feel the same sense of achievement over accomplishments.
- When our brain is in the learning mode in one area, it tends to function better in all areas. You might well find that you think more clearly and creatively all the way around when you are learning something new.
What are some ways to break out of your comfort zone? There are many ways, but what works best for you will depend on what your areas of comfort are. In general, try to take on something that pushes you a little bit past what you are used to. It is the slight stress of doing something different that makes the most difference in helping us gain a fresh perspective. In order to get the most benefit from your experience, avoid an experience that you can do at home or online. The best learning and insight will come from reaching outside your normal boundaries. Here are some ideas to get you started.
- Volunteer with a group that makes you uncomfortable. If you tend to shy away from homeless people on the street, try getting to know some people through volunteering at a service site.
- Get involved in committees or workgroups that make you stretch a little at work. If you have never thought about being involved in the diversity committee or the safety committee, you might be surprised at what you learn and the new perspective it gives.
- Tackle the thing you hate the worst. For many of us, it’s public speaking. Try getting involved in Toastmasters, it will change your life in ways you never would have dreamed.
- Give yourself a dose of culture shock by traveling somewhere the language and customs are different. Don’t go with an organized group.
- Join a book club or study group that focuses on a topic you are less familiar with or don’t agree with. Go with an open mind and see what you learn.
- Try out writing. Starting a blog or contributing to blogs can be a great way to reach people who are outside of our daily circle. There’s no better way to share your insights and thoughts with others. Best of all, you can start your career as a writer right here on GovLoop!
Reaching outside of our comfort zone can have a powerful impact on how we approach our daily activities as well as our relationships with others. You may be surprised at the difference in how you feel about your job and the things you do, once you have really gotten outside of the box. What are some other ways to challenge yourself? Sound off below!
Brenda Dennis is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.