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Why Taking Risks is Essential for Career Growth

Updated: Sep 27, 2023


Dream Big

Have you ever felt stagnant in your career, unsure of how to advance or progress? Perhaps you have been doing the same job for years or feel like you've hit a wall regarding your professional trajectory. If so, it might be time to take an essential risk for career growth.


What does taking a risk mean? There are many types of risk taking. For our purposes we will discuss taking a calculated risk, which is a risk that you consider is worth taking because the result, if it is successful, will be very good. Some tips for taking a calculated risk: is to do your research; weigh the pros/cons; play the risk scenario out in your head, or write it down on paper to discover what some options may be for outcomes on taking this risk. This will help you anticipate any issues that might come up and plan for them. Also, map out your milestones and goals. Then measure where taking a risk will put you in relation to achieving your milestones and goals.


Risk taking makes you step out of your safety zone. Outside of safety is where you will gain new experiences and skills, build confidence, and be a better prospect for career opportunities. Often, we do not want to take on more work because we will not get paid for it. Expand your thinking to understand that the experience and skills you gain are your reward for venturing into the unknown territory of assuming more responsibilities and challenges. These rewards are long-lasting and will look good on a resume.


In this article, we will explore why taking risks is important for your career. We will also share some actionable tips and personal anecdotes to help you take the necessary steps toward growth and success. Whether you are just starting or a seasoned professional looking to take your career to the next level, this article is for you. Come along as we dive in and learn why taking risks is essential for career growth.


Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone


Staying within your comfort zone can feel warm, cozy, and safe, but it can also hinder your career. Taking up residence in familiar territory limits your opportunities for growth. Going outside your comfort zone means taking on new and unfamiliar challenges---things which build new skills, expand your knowledge, and ultimately propel you to new heights. Stagnant career trajectories are a myth; change is the only constant.


So, how do you step outside your comfort zone safely? By taking the initiative and asking for new responsibilities and projects that you can see will benefit you. Is there is a project outside of your usual scope of work that you have had your eye on? Talk to your manager about taking on more challenging roles. Change your modus operandi. Try speaking up more in meetings. This can help you become more confident in expressing your ideas and opinions. As well as get you noticed in a positive way for leadership and growth opportunities.


Trying, new things can be scary. But if you are proactive by doing and learning it will provide positive momentum for career growth. It should also add these updates to your resume. Resume - flexed. Taking on new challenges can provide invaluable insight into our strengths and weaknesses and help you become more resilient.


Embracing Failure as a Learning Opportunity


Taking risks does not mean you will sidestep setbacks on your journey. You’ll make unexpected mistakes along the way that you could not anticipate. This will happen even when you have tried to calculate all risk. The size of the error isn’t important. What is important to remember is, we learn by making mistakes. Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines says “Don’t be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” Re-frame your error and learn and improve from it and you will avoid making the same mistake again. Own your mistakes, learn from them and you will become more resilient and better equipped to manage unexpected challenges at work and in life.


Reflect on what went wrong, analyze why it went sideways, and think about what you can do differently and better the next time. It will help you identify where you need make changes personally and professionally. Remember to seek feedback from a trusted resource and stay open to their valuable insights on your performance.


Gaining New Skills and Experience


There are benefits you get from new skills and experiences. We mentioned earlier that calculated risk taking can help you obtain new and useful skills. The skills you develop you might not be able to learn anywhere else. New skills do a lot to increase your workplace value in "versatility" or capacity. For example, if you are interested in learning a new skill, such as coding or project management, you might consider taking a course or attending a workshop to learn new skills. You have many choices available for example: attending a local trade school; junior college or university; or taking online courses. Another option is to speak to your manager tell them about your desire to learn new skills. They will be able to keep you in mind when they assign projects or work assignments that will add to your skills resume.


Gaining new skills & experience also expands your knowledge base and increases your marketability to potential employers. Consistently adding new skills to your resume demonstrates you are a continuous learner. Being a continuous learner is a highly valued skill in today’s job market. Learning continuously can grow and advance your career laterally or horizontally. Keep in mind too, you can expand where you physically work by considering jobs in other cities or states. Moving can be made smoother by hiring cross-state or long-distance movers. A simple transfer across the state means a fresh new start.


Confidence vs Self-Efficacy


Often, we are encouraged to have confidence in ourselves. Having self-confidence means having a strong belief, whether it is in something or negative. A better word for this is having self-efficacy. Self-efficacy means having the strong, positive belief that you have the capacity and the skills to achieve your goals. When you successfully take risks and achieve your goals, you gain a sense of accomplishment and a boost in self-assurance or belief in oneself. Everyone has moments when we waiver or doubt in our capacity to do something. By meeting or exceeding your set goals you become more comfortable and confident in your abilities.


In setting goals it is key to set achievable goals that stretch you—and make you grow. Break down larger objectives into smaller, more manageable tasks. This makes progress more tangible and sustainable. Achieving goals increases your self-worth, purpose, and direction.


Another sign of strength is to ask for help at work when needed. Take stock of your job, your duties and assess if you are getting enough support to excel in your work. Ask for help when you need guidance. It is also important to build a network to support yourself while you work toward your career goals. Your network can provide a sounding board for your ideas and challenges.


Remember Rome was not built in a day. You will not be able to build your confidence or boost your self-efficacy overnight. It will take time.


Becoming More Marketable


Taking risks in your career creates tremendous potential for you to be eligible for new opportunities. By taking calculated risks and seizing those opportunities, you demonstrate your increased value to your employer.


Ways to become more valuable: take on new challenges; say "yes" to added responsibilities. In saying this remember say no as well and not overload yourself to the point of failure. Continue to look for ways to expand your skills/knowledge. This can include volunteering for new projects, taking on leadership roles, or pursuing further education. Show your employer your level of commitment to grow, by demonstrating your willingness to take on new challenges and expand your skill set.


If you are job hunting, add networking into your schedule. Build relationships within the industry. Attend events, join professional organizations, connect with colleagues via LinkedIn, create opportunities for new career paths.


Finally


You can see the value of why taking calculated risks is essential for career growth. In fact, not taking any career risks is more harmful to your career than taking a calculated risk. It all starts with stepping outside your comfort zone. Remember growth and career development takes time and it can take years to meet your career goals. Risk taking does not have to be a solo endeavor. Seek support from your manager and teammates. Are you willing to take a risk?


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