Are you comfortable with risk? Most people aren’t but if you are mid-career and want to pursue something different, there is a huge upside in taking the leap or several. Even if you stay in your current position and you’re curious about another topic, that’s a great start. Trying something outside of your comfort zone allows you to adapt and learn and creating that excitement might be exactly what you need.
What’s considered risk-taking? Anything that makes you stretch and makes you squirm. Public speaking? Taking an Improv class? If you happen to be an extreme introvert, that’s OK. Think of all the things you’ve always wanted to try and see where it takes you.
New & Novel
Learning a new skill definitely counts as putting yourself out there and taking a risk.
If it isn’t related to your job, it gives your mind a refresh and can help to see things differently. It’s also incredibly beneficial if you’re tuned into the skills you already have and how you can expand on them. If you have an interest in consumer behavior, how about taking a course on transformation in the retail industry?
As David Epstein, author of a book called, “Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World” says, “Take your skills to a place that’s not doing the same sort of thing. Take your skills and apply them to a new problem or take your problem and try completely new skills.”
My friend, Caroline, was a graphic designer working for a traditional media company. She took several UI/UX courses and transitioned into a new job at age 55. Another friend, Ally, was so frustrated about finding a place for her mother to live that she decided to study innovation in senior living. She envisioned and wrote about “mini compounds” where multigenerational families could be close but not in one house. Her passion for the topic shone through and she was able to work with others who had a similar vision. At 57, she’s now working for a company headquartered in Europe that focuses on new (and less expensive) ways of living as people age.
If you find yourself wondering about things you’ve always wanted to try, take the time to study it and go for it. Although uncomfortable at first, it will lead to areas that surprise you.
Oftentimes people will say they need the safety and security of a full-time job or some other thing in their life they feel is too stable to disrupt and that is understandable. The reality is that your life could change in an instant. Whether it’s a job lay off or something else. If there’s no such thing as security, it makes it easier to take that risk you’ve always wanted to try. It may help position you to be more agile and adapt.
Fear or Possibility?
Instead of focusing on what might go wrong when you take that risk (everyone succumbs to Debbie Downer syndrome), try to focus on what could happen if you DO try something new. Hold onto that thought. Envision what could happen if you open up the possibilities for yourself.
Goal setting and writing those goals down is great but without taking the actual risks, real change won’t happen. And the more risks you take, the more you get used to it, the more you enjoy the rush of something new and want to do it again. An added benefit is that you’ll also get used to failure that may show up. When it does come up in life, maybe it won’t look so devastating. Why? Because you have been through failure and persevered.
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Emily’s vision for illume hire developed as part of her journey from a startup-curious sales and marketing professional to co-founder and CEO. Her passion is to provide the tools and community to support other mid-career professionals to maximize their mid-career momentum. In addition to her work with illume hire, Emily is part of the founding leadership team of Age Equity Alliance, a non-profit focused on age diversity in the workplace