The Thrilling Terror Of Getting Out Of Your Professional Comfort Zone + 6 Ways You Can Do It, Too.

“What about THIS one?” Amanda hands me a tiny amber bottle to consider.

I turn it in the light and compare it to the seven other tiny bottles I have placed in a row on the counter of the lab – cobalt blue, clear, faceted glass, tall and narrow, rounded and squat.

This is NOT where I thought my Doctorate in psychology would take me.

For the last 15+ years my work has essentially consisted of two things:
a) talking to people
b) guiding people

I LOVE my work and, if I may be so bold as to say so, I’m quite good at it. My clients regularly say that I helped give them a “total spiritual and mental makeover” or helped them change the way they show up in the world.

I LOVE my work and – just like I counsel my clients to do – I knew I needed to get out of my comfort zone. (Keep an eye out for my totally new product, launching on January 8th!)

When we hear that age-old advice about getting out of our comfort zones we usually apply it to our personal or creative lives. We try a new hobby, we date someone who’s different from us, we go on a trip by ourselves. Lovely!

Why are we so reluctant to get out of our professional comfort zones?

Well, it feels a lot more risky. Many of us have spent dozens of years and a lot of money earning these degrees and our professional reputations. If you, like me, are in your 40s you might feel a bit … cemented in your current role.

If you’ve spent years becoming known as the best interior designer / CPA / casting director in your city, changing gears or trying something new can feel impossible. What will people think if you leave a career in law to open a catering company?

(Sidenote: That’s a career change that one of my clients went through and I can tell you nobody cared and she’s much happier now!)


If you’re thinking about getting out of your professional comfort zone but you’re not quite ready to change careers, here are a few things that you might want to try …

6 Ways To Get Out Of Your Professional Comfort Zone

  • Think about a career that fascinated you as a child – veterinarian, ballerina, astronaut. Find a memoir by someone who’s done that job and read it!
  • See if you can find a Community Ed or online course for beginners about something a professional topic that’s totally outside your professional comfort zone. Low risk and low cost!
  • If you work for a big company that’s frequently assembling teams to work on different projects, put your name in for a project that’s different from what you’d usually work on.
  • Do a “self-directed project” for something that’s outside your professional comfort zone. If you’re interested in fiction writing, take part in NaNoWriMo. If you want to get into interior design, offer to help your sister decorate her living room.
  • If you have a friend who took a big professional leap of faith, buy them lunch and ask them how they did it and where they started. Confidence can be contagious!
  • Network outside of your usual circles! If you usually go to networking events filled with people who live in your city, work in your industry, who earn, look, and think the same way you do – try a new networking group!

The average American spends 90,000 hours working. Even if you – like me – love your job, it’s good to stretch yourself every once in a while.

If things have been feeling a little stagnant at work, please consider this your nudge to try something new. And please stay tuned for MY “something new” coming early next year! (You can make sure you’re the first to know by joining my mailing list!)

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