One of my New Year’s resolutions in January was to take a career risk. I was fairly happy in my job of 5 years, but also dissatisfied for many reasons, not least the lack of progression opportunities open to me. I’d held myself back from making a big change for a while, because of the fear of taking a risk. However, I finally decided at the end of 2017 that a career risk was exactly what I needed, and in February I took a leap into a new role, a new company and a different field. I always knew I could leave if it was a mistake, but actually after several months I am so pleased I made the decision I did.
So What Do I Class as a Career Risk?
- Leaving a job you’re good at for something new.
- Leaving a company you’ve been at for years and giving up your benefits.
- Going outside your comfort zone.
- Accepting a job at a company you’ve heard negative things about.
- Choosing a path that doesn’t bring things you previously thought were important, such as regular pay, job security, a good location/short commute, nice working hours, etc.
- Starting again in a completely new field.
- Going self employed.
This is not just a simple case of looking for a new job. I’m talking about making a move that doesn’t tick all your boxes; one where you may have to compromise on something; a move that might only be a short term opportunity; or even going unpaid for a while to allow yourself to retrain in something new.
Here’s Why It Could Be Worth the Risk:
- If you’re considering a move it’s probably because you’re bored and unchallenged. Taking a step outside your comfort zone is a sure-fire way of challenging yourself. Even if you’re not ambitious in your career, challenges are what make life fulfilling!
- You’ll learn so much by moving company, changing fields or completely retraining. I’ve learned so many more skills in the past 5 months than I would have done if I’d stayed where I was! The fact is, the longer you do the same thing (or stay in the same place), the less you have to learn from it.
- You might discover talents you didn’t know you had!
- You’ll expand your network. Meeting new people is always a good thing for your career, but it can also be personally rewarding if you’re lucky enough to meet likeminded people who end up becoming your friends.
- It’s very rewarding to bring your ideas to a new place or role. Companies can really benefit from a fresh set of eyes, and it’s a great chance for you to show off some of your skills. It can be a real confidence boost!
- You weren’t getting what you wanted before. Whether general job satisfaction, progression opportunities, interesting projects, or simply a higher wage, taking a risk can get you what you want (or at least, closer to it).
What’s The Worst That Could Happen?
If your move doesn’t meet your expectations, you can always move again. If it all proves to be a mistake, you’ll at least have learned one thing – what you don’t want from your career. And hopefully you’d have learned some other things too. This then becomes an opportunity to find something better. And don’t forget – you weren’t truly happy before anyway!
Of course not everyone has the opportunity to take risks, and I appreciate that if you have children or other commitments you may be limited. Definitely consider your circumstances before making any big life decisions! However, I feel like I made a big mistake staying still too long. My career risk has paid off so far – I’m much more engaged and challenged; I’ve learned loads; I have more prospects; and as a bonus, it was also a step up for me. It’s always hard to swap the familiar for the unknown, but there are so many reasons to take that risk if your situation allows you to!