Eight years ago, as I was moving positions within a company I had worked at for 4 years, the head of the PR team gave me a card with the following quote from Neale Donald Walsch on the front “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” I packed this card up in the box that would be travelling with me to my new position, at Global Headquarters four blocks away, and hung it on my cubicle wall. I was going from working on the North America Public Relations team, to be the Communications Manager for the Global Sales Department.
I made the leap out of my comfort zone because a year earlier, I participated in a small group session with the Head of Sales at the company, and he shared with us that you can’t ever really understand a company unless you know how your sales organization and supply chain works. His comments resonated with me so much that when a communications position opened in the sales department, I jumped at the chance to learn more about the company, applied and got the job.
Knowing very little about the sales organization, I was pretty terrified as a I started my new position but I would look at the card pinned to my wall and it helped center me, reminding me that I was here to try something new. I knew my position would help me to learn more about the company in a way that would let me communicate the brand promise more effectively.
Truth be told, everything out of my comfort zone scares me. It always has. I hate airplanes, I don’t ride roller coasters and I’m a strict rule follower. However, one place this isn’t the case is with my work. Throughout my career, I have made many jumps, whether it be going to new companies, or going to different positions within a company. Some jumps have been rewarding, others have been challenging, but they have all helped shape my career and help me figure out exactly what I want to do.
For anyone contemplating a career switch or internal move, here are some thoughts to consider:
- Breaking out of your routine - Does your current job challenge you? Are you doing the same things every day? When I left the PR job to join the Sales team, I had been doing the same thing for four years and didn’t realize how comfortable I had gotten in the role and how it wasn’t exciting for me anymore. I liked the routine I had but trying something different made me realize that new challenges presented new opportunities.
- It’s not always about moving up - In many corporate environments, there is not always room for promotions. There can be little opportunity for growth when a company is scaling back or making cuts. If you don’t have the opportunity to move up, there may be a chance to make a lateral move but to another department. This gives you a chance to work on new projects and meet new people and most importantly, acquire new skills that may help you to get to the next level.
- Find a mentor – I have been lucky to have worked with and for many strong women over my career. I have been able to talk to them about career choices, ask them for advice and seek guidance. I have always talked to my mentors when faced with a career decision and found their advice incredibly helpful.
This year, I took on my newest role, once again leaving my comfort zone of a 9-5 corporate job and joining a startup communications/PR company (led by one of my mentors!) and I am excited about the journey we are embarking on together. When we counsel our clients, we encourage them to push outside their comfort zone too. I know firsthand, it’s the best way to grow.