3 fears you need to overcome for your career growth

By Robert Half 13 July 2019

When it comes to risk-taking, do you generally jump in head-first, or do you shy away from the unknown?

For your career growth, avoiding risks altogether could be more dangerous than embracing them. Positive risk-taking is important as it can help you stand out from the crowd and drive your career forward.

It’s easy to get stuck in your comfort zone and avoid taking risks so this article explores what may be stopping you. It also shares four ways you can manage risk better in the future. What’s stopping you from taking risks?

There are many complicated barriers for not taking risks for your career growth. Here are just a few to consider:

1. Feeling of fear

It’s easy to feel scared about taking risks. This is because you’re probably asking yourself repeatedly “what if it goes wrong?”. But overcome this by taking a deep breath and thinking about how you would feel if the risk pays off.

2. Job certainty

It’s easy to avoid risks because you’re comfortable in your current job. But this can put you in a position where you’re not moving up the career ladder and at a dead-end. You may be comfortable with the situation now and happy with the job security it offers, but you may not be reaching your full potential.

3. Financial security

Taking a risk, such as accepting a lower paying job, could be a financial concern. But remember to look at the bigger picture. If you’re able to support yourself financially in the short-term, a job change could provide you with more opportunities that can lead to bigger rewards and more financial security in the long-term.

Ultimately, whilst you may have responsibilities to consider before taking risks, the only real reason holding you back is you. It may, therefore, be time to review your risk-taking behaviour.

Risks that paid off

If you’re still nervous about taking risks, consider some of the risks that have paid off for successful business people and brands:

  • Billionaire Richard Branson was running a successful record company and decided to buy a second-hand Boeing 747, later the catalyst for Virgin Atlantic.
  • In 1997, a sum of $1.5 million was offered for the sale of Google. Many may have taken the money, but the owners took a risk on their own vision for the company.
  • Jeff Bezos decided to take a big risk by quitting his finance job to start Amazon from his garage.

4 ways to take measured risks for career growth

Whilst following in the footsteps of other risk-takers can be daunting, these simple steps for positive risk-taking can help you get started:

1. Start small

Try taking a small risk every day initially, to push yourself out of your comfort zone. The more times you take a risk, the more comfortable you will become. You can then gradually build up to taking bigger risks over time.

2. Consider the pros and cons

If you’re not sure whether to take a risk, lay it all out on a piece of paper. Writing down the pros and cons will help you see the overall risks and rewards. One column may be longer than the other, or one may stand out to you more, so this will help you make your decision.

3. Have a backup plan

Instead of jumping in headfirst, or not taking any risks at all, it’s best to find a middle ground. Take a smart risk, but have a backup plan ready too, just in case. This will help make the risk not feel as daunting.

4. Plan for the worst-case scenario

By planning for the worst, you will at least understand what could happen, which can make the overall situation less scary.

Taking measured risks

When it comes to taking risks, the actual risk of failing and your perception of failing can be completely misaligned. It’s easy to focus on the negatives and blow these completely out of proportion. Instead, focus on the positives of taking a risk, such as the new opportunities it may provide for career growth.

You may think that being overly cautious and risk-averse is just being sensible, but this could mean letting opportunities pass you by. Of course, taking impulsive risks could be just as damaging. But taking a smart, calculated risk can show courage, increase your confidence, improve your overall happiness and aid your long-term career success.

If you don’t step out of your comfort zone and take smart, calculated risks, you’ll never know what exciting opportunities could have been available to you.

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