Choose your language:
April 18, 2016
By Lisa Dare
There were only two ways down to the sparkling teal of the Mediterranean Sea on a dusty July day. One was a scary leap from an outcropping 15 feet over the water. The other was a terrifying plunge from a much higher cliff.
As much as I wanted to feel the warm waves, I had no intention of jumping. But my husband, a thrill-seeker to the core, insisted I try it.
Reluctantly, I climbed up and contemplated the ocean crashing against the rocks below. The jump seemed terrifying, and I wasn’t sure I could do it. But then I surrendered, plunging as far past the rock face as I could into the water.
Like most leaps into the unknown, it was utterly thrilling. Basking in the waves—which were every bit as delicious as they’d looked—I noticed the much taller jump, at least 40 feet above. “Let’s try that one!” I shouted.
My husband blanched but did it anyway.
Taking a step—or cliff dive—outside your comfort zone is scary at first, but it often proves exhilarating. And taking a professional risk can literally change your life.
Transforming careers through risk
There are two main types of career risks: changing your career path or asking for more responsibility. Both require courage. Here are some ways to contemplate risk and find the bravery to meet challenges head-on.
1. Contemplate the waves
You probably have a pet project you’re dying to try. Or a new role at your company you’d like to create. Or a conversation with your boss you’ve rehearsed many times in your head but never initiated. The first step to taking a career-changing risk is to define what it is you want, and say out loud why you’re so scared to try it. Often, murky fears lose their power when you specifically identify what it is about them that frightens you.
2. Test the waters
Figure out your career-changing IT skill and learn it.
If Hacker News is your go-to read, perhaps you’d enjoy information security. There is a growing demand for InfoSec skills that touch lots of IT roles, particularly systems administration, networking and application development. Knowledgeable InfoSec pros recommend you start building knowledge by simply reading a book about security topics. The InfoSec Institute recommends a few, including:
Other up-and-coming IT careers: IoT developer, data scientist and machine learning engineer. Start reading what these pros read and solicit practical advice for joining their field in user forums.
3. Find a friend
It’s time to network (with people, not computers).
Everyone’s least favorite career-advancing task is also the most fruitful. If you can commit time and emotional energy into networking, your career will reap rewards.
Here are three ways to start networking:
4. Try something new
If you want to branch out from your current work, schedule a talk with your recruiter. Be honest about your career aspirations and ask your recruiter to keep you in mind for new types of positions.
5. Take the leap
Changing industries can open up a whole new set of career options and refresh your enthusiasm.
Some interesting industries to consider:
6. Imagine how you’ll feel after jumping
Taking risks is scary and uncomfortable, but remember that exhilarating feeling of diving into the unknown. It might be the motivation you need to push the boundaries of your comfort zone and find a career you’re passionate about.