Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

Hello everyone! Let’s talk about something exciting today (wait, I don’t talk about exciting things everyday on my blog…?). Let’s delve into new beginnings, new journeys, new jobs, new comfort zones. As you already know, one of my goals for this year is to push my boundaries and enter a new comfort zone. It can be a challenge to step outside of your comfort zone, but I’m a firm believer in doing so on the occasion to learn, grow and develop as an individual. So let’s get into it a bit, huh?!

My Experience Stepping out of My Comfort Zone

Let me start by saying I just reached my 10 year anniversary with my Company two months ago! Since entering the workforce I’ve stayed with the same company; however, I’ve had my fair share of job-hopping which has allowed me to push my boundaries a number of times.

Besides the rotational / training program I participated in, I have held positions in 3 distinct groups at my employer. And as you may know, I’ve been seriously considering a fourth group recently with a potentially move London (an update on this later). This would mean, on average, I’ve expanded my comfort zone through my employment and geographic location once every 3 years or so. And my moves have spanned the United States, having lived and worked in the Midwest, San Francisco, and currently Charlotte. How great would a move to London be next!?

“If you are not having doubt, you are not pushing your boundaries far enough.”

– Tony Fadell

The New Normal

Coincidentally, my experience is on par with most folks. Some studies have shown millennials job-hop 4 times in their first decade compared to just 2 for Gen Xers. However, other studies by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that millennials job-hop on par with Baby Boomers. So while there are conflicting reports as to whether millennials job-hop more than previous generations, one thing is for sure… job-hopping is common!

But allow me to provide a for-warning to new folks entering the workforce. Resumes filled with 1-2 year stints can lead some HR managers to be wary of the motivation, skill level, engagement on the job and ability to get along with others. Job instability on a resume could come at the cost of the dream job!

The key is to be strategic with your job-hopping. With the right context, a scattershot resume may demonstrate ambition, motivation and the desire to learn new skills more than flakiness.

That has been my approach as a 10+ year banker. My first job switch was after 2 years and was to gain new experiences with larger clients. I thought it was important to be in my first job 2 years before I begin a new search and timing worked out well.

My next gig is when I took advantage of my Company’s tuition reimbursement program to cover a large chunk of my MBA. Shortly after earning my MBA I took my next leap outside of my comfort zone. This was about two and half years after my first switch. The purpose for this switch was to take advantage of having just earned my MBA and earn a higher wage, expand my experiences to bank more large publicly traded companies and complex transactions. I’ve been in this current gig for about 5 years now, although with a series of promotions and expanded job responsibilities.

Each move was strategic and gave me experiences to build on!

“Great things never came from comfort zones.”

– Unknown

Benefits of Expanding Comfort Zones

We all have our own comfort zone. It is the routine of our daily life. It is familiarity, safety and security. It keeps us comfortable, calm and emotionally even. It is a natural adaptation that we experience throughout much of our lives.

But stepping outside of our comfort zone is when we grow, transition and transform.

A little stress and anxiety every now and then can be good too. It can give us new experiences, challenges and risks. And regardless of the ultimate outcome, taking risks provide growth experiences. After all, FAIL can be re-framed as “first attempt in learning”.

Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

According to Dr. Brenner in her article on the psychological benefits of stepping outside our comfort zones:

“Your real life is out there waiting for you. Your real life exists beyond the bubble of your own personal thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. Your real life is the sum total of ALL of your experiences, not just the one’s you’re comfortable with.”

Adapting to a New Comfort Zone

“Don’t settle for the mediocre just to avoid stepping out of your comfort zone; it’s too big a price to pay.”

Dr. Brenner

With all that, it is time for me to once again expand my comfort zone. A lot of details still need to fall into place for my wife and me to make the decision to move to London. Unfortunately it has drug out for a while which leads to uncertainty. We haven’t really minded it being drug out a bit since we’re expecting our second kiddo in early April and we’d like to have the baby here.

But now London seems to be on hold. Not gone altogether, but with internal re-organization in process the dynamic has changed significantly (typical large corporate re-orgs…). It’s a shame, but now it gives us a time period to reflect on our options and how much we really want London. After having time to reflect and we still want to entertain a move to London, then with persistence I think we can make it happen. It will just take some time to let the re-org take effect, but we can make it work. How long? Don’t know, maybe a few months, maybe a year. But patience has never been my strong-suit…

Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

Thoughts?

How have you pushed boundaries and stepped outside your comfort zone? Is it time for your next move to further grow and develop? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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The Green Swan

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  • I’m feeling the push outside my comfort zone since I took on a new assignment a few months ago. It’s difficult and stressful at times, and sometimes I want to give up and go back to my old assignment, where things were much easier. But I know that I need to push myself in order to grow, so I’m going to give this assignment at least a year. After that we’ll see if I want to continue or try something else. I definitely find it easier to just keep going in the same groove, but I’ve gotten stuck a few times doing that and I hate being stuck. Thanks for the article, I needed this on a Monday! And best of luck with London!

    • JW

      Good for you for recently branching out, Liz. It sounds like giving it a year to decide is fair. And who knows, by then you may get into a rhythm and appreciate it more!

      Thanks!

  • I recently took on a new project at work that has gotten me slightly out of my comfort zone, but unfortunately I think it’s just a bad project. I’m trying to stick with it for a couple more weeks though to make sure I get past the first uncomfortable stage. If it still sucks after that, I can re-evaluate some options. Oh, and for what it’s worth – if you get the chance, I’d definitely go to London. I think living abroad can be an amazing life changing adventure.

    • JW

      Yeah falling into a bad project can happen but hopefully it still allows you an opportunity for growth and development. Thanks for sharing, Freedom 40!

      Thanks for the encouragement on London! I need that. Sometimes a long process like this that keeps dragging out can lead to fatigue of it.

      I appreciate the comment!

  • GS, As a guy who made many such moves, I would say not just step, but Jump out of your comfort zone! With a 7 figure net worth, you have built a massive cushion to not worry about consequences. Heck, I did it when I had far less than you in my late 20’s and 30’s and still do it today! Unless you feel butterflies ? in your stomach, your decision isn’t bold enough! This is one of the least talked about benefits of being FI. You can continually push your professional boundaries with no fear of failure. Besides, it’s just London, not Ladakh! So, enjoy it and you will be a changed man after the experience.

    • JW

      That’s a great perspective 10! Thanks so much for the encouragement. And that’s true, life experience opportunities like London don’t come around often. Sometime I get to caught up about staying on my retirement plan that I need to realize an opportunity like this is worth a potential delay in FIRE.

      Haha and I had to Google Ladakh! Thanks for the great comment!

  • We’re getting close to a need to jump. My new role since July has two aspects, it pays more and it’s pretty much all stuff I’ve done before. It’s in a new department at the company I’ve been at for ten years. I thought I’d learn in depth about that departments marketing. What I’ve found is it’s the same thing different group. I haven’t decided how to jump and I’m in a good position until I do, the top you can have without direct reports in my specific company. However I know deep down I can’t stay here long or my career and life will become stagnant. First world problems to have a well paying job that’s just not developing you. The decision to jump out of my comfort zone and join this company led me to this point, so it’s obvious it’s a beneficial process.

    • JW

      Sounds like you’ve done a great job challenging yourself throughout your career! Sometimes becoming stagnant in a job can creep up on you which has sort of been the case in my gig too. But you’re right, first world problems!

      Best of luck as you continue navigating your career! Thanks for the comment, FTF!

  • Some of the best things have come from stepping out of my comfort zone. My internship and subsequent full-time job with an O&G major, dating and marrying Mrs. SSC, even leaving said O&G major for a new company. They all felt scary and different at the time and definitely out of my comfort zone, but soon they became my new comfort level.

    The hardest was leaving my last company. I knew I wasn’t happy but it felt as scary as leaving a nice safe cottage at midnight to go wandering around in the deep dark woods. However, when I landed my current gig, it came with a 30% base salary increase, retention incentives, and double the yearly bonus target of my last place. Plus, I really enjoy the people I work with and corporate culture a LOT better. Did I mention I’m still happy here, even with 6 bosses?

    Being comfortable is fine for some things, but it’s rarely good for growth.

    • JW

      You’re not saying you got cold feet at the alter, right!?

      Wow what a great example of successfully getting out of your comfort zone with your most recent jump! Was it difficult finding that next gig?

      Thanks for sharing, Mr SSC!

      • Haha, no cold feet, but she was definitely the opposite of what I had been comfortable with in previous relationships. It’s worked out well so far, 8+ yrs married. 🙂

        For my job search, it was rather easy actually. I left a few months before oil crashed, so there were still plenty of jobs around. I was working with a headhunter that got me a few interviews at other companies, but this current gig, I landed the interview, negotiated salary, and sign on bonus all by myself. My headhunter was a bit dismayed she didn’t get anything from it, but in fairness I had initiated contact with my current company prior to working with her and I did let her know I went to interview with them as well. I think they acted quickly when I told them that yes, I was actively interviewing at the other companies.

        • JW

          8+ years for me as well!

          Gotcha, a combination of searching by yourself and with a headhunter. Haha that’s kind of funny your headhunter missed out. And nice how a little sense of urgency by the company helped out!

          Thanks for sharing!

  • I really hate the “job-hopping millennial” image. I have job-hopped as a millennial: but in the interest of transparency, it was because I worked at horrible, toxic places. Maybe it’s because many entry-level jobs are awful and we’re desperate to pay off our record-breaking amount of student loans? Just a thought.

    But way to go for sticking with one company for so long! I’m envious of your experience. 🙂

    I do know London can be a pricy place to live, so it’s not a move to take lightly, of course.

    I pushed my boundaries a bit this weekend. I cooked chickpea curry even though I’m a little terrified of Indian food. It turned out delicious and I’m glad I tried it. 🙂

    In the job world, I applied for an internal job for my client (I’m a contractor). It’s a little terrifying because it’s not really what I love doing, but the benefits would be kickass and I could provide Mr. Picky Pincher with more stability. We’ll see what happens, but it’s terrifying all the same

    • JW

      Finding new work because your gig is toxic is not a bad reason to job hop! Things like that are explainable to HR managers. I agree, I think millennials can get a bad wrap for job hopping when other generations have done the same.

      Cooking curry would definitely be pushing boundaries for me too, ha! Good for you and glad it turned out good 🙂

      Good for you for keeping your eyes open for better options. It can be terrifying! Best of luck and thanks for the great comment!

  • Like you, I stayed within one company, but switched roles (and functions) relatively frequently. I advanced faster than most people I knew – including people that skipped to other companies to try to get ahead. I think the key is ‘reading’ your company. Are they well positioned for the future? Where are they in the business cycle right now? The biggest opportunities often emerge when the company isn’t doing well and people are leaving. If the fundamentals are good, stick it out and show you can be useful at the next level.

    • JW

      Great points, Mr FireStation. And I agree about reading the company situation. I lucked out initially with my first job at a relatively strong bank which survived the economic collapse (albeit not unscathed). I was contemplating a job elsewhere initially and it turns out that bank collapsed within 6 months! Scary what may have been for me.

      Thanks for sharing your experience!

  • I’m a frequent job-hopper and with every job switch, I’m pushing my comfort zone limits as I’m going out and learning new technologies, meeting new people, and trying to establish my presence in a new environment. However, once I do settle in, I start getting complacent and would often think of switching jobs again.

    It’s a vicious cycle, but it’s been a fun and rewarding one.

    • JW

      That’s great it’s worked out for you so well and you’ve made the most of each spot. As long as you’re gaining value to help with your next gig (and employer) you’re doing it right.

      Great work and thanks for sharing!

  • I’m relatively new to your blog, but your post is quite timely for me. I’ve pushed my boundaries several times in the last decade or so by switching career paths and companies. Most recently, I’ve moved between departments (side ways then upwards) within the same organization. I think pushing your boundaries and moving outside of your comfort zone regularly is extremely beneficial (for personal and professional growth). I recently started a blog (which was a push – have thought about it for a couple of years but finally just took the step). Very scary because it’s a whole new world, but I know the discomfort will be worth it in the way of growth and opportunity at some point (right?!).

    My fingers are crossed that you make it to London post reorg. I’m sure with persistence you will find a way!

    • JW

      Glad you found my blog and enjoyed the post! Sounds like we’ve gone about job hopping similarly and also stumbled into three blogging world similarly too! Best of luck and I’ll look forward to following your blog.

      Thanks for the well wishes on London, FYG!

  • After ten years at his old company, my husband knew it was time to push outside his comfort zone and look for something new. He wanted to get out of a niche before it was too late, and develop more widely marketable skills. He has been so much happier at his new job because he’s being challenged, has a chance to advance his career more than ever before, and is taking on increasing amounts of responsibility as well as gaining technical skills. It’s so true that there is a balance between hopping around too much, and staying too long. Glad you’ve been able to keep that in the balance. I hope it becomes clear what is best for you regarding London!

    • JW

      That’s great regarding your husband! Sounds like he found a new gig just in time and couldn’t have worked out better.

      Thanks regarding London! It’s always a challenge during a prolonged process like this and all the uncertainty. I’m sure it’ll be resolved for the best soon enough.

      Thanks for stopping by, Kalie!

  • Although I’ve been at my current employer for almost 20 years (!), I’ve taken many calculated risks along the way. There were enough opportunities and new work along the way to keep me interested and challenged. I’ve also been lucky and had a few good mentors and managers who believed in me.

    That said, I feel like at the point that I either stay here until I’m done (about 7 years or so) or now is the last time to jump ship. A bit of Newton’s first law – an object at rest stays at rest…

    • JW

      There are many ways to keep challenging yourself throughout your career. Sounds like you went about it very similar to me. And also similarly, it’s time to think about that last stage of your career and to get out of it what you want to! There’s always something to think about and plan for. Thanks for sharing, Need 2 Save!

  • The constant job hopping can be a turn off but if you show an upward trend, i.e. taking on new jobs for a promotion, then it’s looked at more favorably. When we look at resumes at my company, one of the things we look for in experienced people is an upward trend. If they’re constantly moving around and making lateral moves, that’s a big turn off.

    My current job pushes me outside of my boundaries, but I could definitely push myself more. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • JW

      Well said, GFY! That upward trend can be quite telling.

      Thanks for the comment!

  • I’ve been afraid to leave my comfort zone regarding my job. The jobs I want to try out pay quite a bit less. However, the experience could put me in a position to get into a higher level role that could pay more in the future. I’ve actually had a few offers, but for whatever reason I pulled back last minute…
    it is difficult leaving your comfort zone!!!

    • JW

      You hit on a major challenge higher income folks face. There are less options for the next jump that can pay as much leaving you feel a bit trapped. I would be hesitant taking a pay cut too and would feel better if it’s a lateral move.

      Thanks for the comment, GE!

  • I think that the longer that I stay in one position the more complacent I become. I have been having a bit of a curse when it come to my bosses. On average I have a new boss every one and a half year, so I often have to step out of my comfort zone to adapt to a new boss.

    • JW

      Yeah that can be tough having to adapt to new a new boss so frequently! Thanks for sharing, Leo!

  • I’m 40 and count four real job hops (to different employers) in my professional career. I’ve been with my current employer for 5 years and have held 4 positions, and will soon have a 5th.

    Each hop has pushed my limits and made me better. Each hop has brought a significant bump in pay. For me it seems that my real salary bumps come from moving to a new company and that’s always hard for me to do (I really dislike on boarding)

    I can’t believe I’ve never seen that FAIL acronym – love it!

    • JW

      That’s awesome Ty! You have quite a trajectory with your career and sounds like each jump has been successful and really paid off. A testament for pushing boundaries!

      Ha yeah FAIL is a good one huh?!

      Thanks for the comment!

  • Well, I stepped out of my comfort zone by standing up to an abusive CEO and his unethical policies late last year. It felt good at the time – and I was completely professional in my manner of doing so.

    I was fired on the spot of course.

    It opened the door to several things, including starting a website (which I had often thought about but never acted on).

    Is the future uncertain now? Well, sure it is but that wasn’t really any different from before. There is certainly much more freedom to be had and opportunity to explore than I had imagined.

    I’m not encouraging anyone to go and get themselves fired, but stepping out on a limb sure can be exhilarating!

    Thanks for the post and encouragement!

    • JW

      That’s one way to go out of your comfort zone! Woah!! Sounds like you did three right thing although I’m sure that was a tough decision. Life certainly can throw curveballs occasionally and sounds like you did what you had to. Glad it worked out well and you’ve maintained such a positive attitude! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Making changes rom time to time in life makes you grow. Picking up new skills and expereinces do not happen when you are ver comfortable where you are.
    I also think it is best to push yourself out of your comfort zone, rather than waiting for someone to push you out…

    • JW

      Great point, ATL. The world continues to evolve so it’s best to continue to grow and develop professionally to stay relevant and valuable!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Man, I could SO relate to this post! I’ve stayed with one company for 31 years now, but I’ve had CRAZY different jobs (from sales to Plant Manager to Commodity Trader). Ironically, I just wrote about Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote, and it’s totally applicable here:

    “Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.”

    Good luck getting London sorted. Sorry it’s on hold, I know how that racks with your nerves.

    • JW

      Well done, Fritz! And fantastic quote from Emerson, so true.

      Thanks regarding London. It’s never easy being in limbo. I’m sure you knew the feeling one time or another throughout your career. Well get through it though and I believe everything works out for a reason.

      Thanks for the comment!

  • Generally, it is a good practice to switch careers every 5 to 7 years. I have found growth opportunities and moved up a level every ~5 years. Three years back, we moved from TX to NJ when I received a ~40% raise with relo and sign on bonus.

    I have a nomadic mindset. Have you read the book, “Who moved my cheese?”. If you have not, I would recommend it.

    In life, embracing change, and stepping out of the comfort zone has always been a positive experience for me.

    • JW

      That’s awesome, Michael! Amazing the type of raises you can get for the right new job.

      Yes I have read that book and totally agree. It’s a great read and an important mindset to have, thanks for mentioning that!

      I appreciate the comment, Michael!

  • I have definitely been trying to push myself with the website and my current financial boundaries. It seems lame but, I’m really trying to grow my website. I have had the website for a full year now and I feel that I have not made the progress I have wanted. I’m also working on witting more articles per month and becoming more frugal with ym finances!

    • JW

      That’s a good push and I can relate having started this blog about a year ago too. I think persistence is key and will pay off.

      Thanks for sharing, Diligent Dividend.

  • I love the FAIL acronym! I use them quite a bit in my own writing. Funny, I’m a Gen-x-er and I have job hopped so much. Like you, I need to get out of my comfort zone and not feel afraid of failure. In a similar sense, I have coined an acronym that suits me… SMART goals are a little too safe and ‘vanilla’ for me. They don’t provide big inspiration for me. So, I came up with DUMB goals: Daring, Uncomfortable, Meaningful, Balanced.

    • JW

      Ha I love the DUMB goal acronym! That’s a good one. Thanks for stopping by, Primal Prosperity!