Many young professionals think it’s best to keep their heads down and pay their dues at the beginning of their careers. While you may think that taking risks is only for your experienced colleagues, in actuality, playing it safe can be holding you back. In order to advance in the workplace, taking deliberate career risks is necessary for future success.
“Personally, I think the riskiest career move you can make is not taking any risks at all,” says Anna Wood, career coach and expert. “You can dream and set goals all you want, but if you don’t actually take risks and execute on your plans, you’ll never achieve them.”
It’s not easy to get out of your comfort zone. The good news is, it’s never too late to pursue the career goals you want to achieve.
One way to take more calculated risks at the office is by saying “yes” more often than not. Showing that you are a team player will likely tell your boss that you are willing to take on extra responsibilities, a move that will help you come promotion time.
Speaking to taking risks, Sabine Hutchison, CEO and co-founder of Seuss Consulting agrees, “Say ‘yes’ to special projects that others shy away from,” she says.This includes taking on a role that you feel is a “shoe size” too big, she says, and out of your comfort zone. And, doing *anything* out of your comfort zone is a risk, but will be worth it once you prove you’re capable of executing it.
Donato Sferra, co-founder of the Toronto-based venture capital firm Hillcrest Merchant Partners, says that he wishes he had taken more risks at the beginning of his career. Coming from a blue-collar background, he says, “I didn’t know anything about business, but I always wanted to be in business . . . . I really learned about business and the entrepreneurial spirit, that way I got exposed to as many opportunities as possible.”
Like many young entrepreneurs, he feared the unknown.
“Fear is one of the main reasons that more young people don’t take enough risks. Fear of losing their job, fear of failure, fear of losing respect. Pushing through those fears is what helps you to persevere,” Donato Sferra explains.
It’s also important for young people to speak their minds. When you have an idea, especially a possible solution to a problem, let your manager know.
“If you think your way could really improve things, be sure to approach the person in charge with your suggestion in a pleasant, helpful manner,” suggests Miriam Salpeter, author of Write and Speak Like a Professional.
Maybe you don’t have the grades for law school. Maybe your dream company didn’t hire you. Being open to different positions, organizations, and even industries can grow your career. Sarah Guckes, a B2B Fintech Marketer, discusses that “There are countless stories about people who have left corporate America to become entrepreneurs and take a chance on a new business. There are times that doesn’t work out immediately. There are also times that it works after a ton of hard work, money and risk taking.” This example goes to show that sometimes you have to take risks to find the career path you were truly meant to follow. Taking career risks isn’t just for those in the executive suite. When you take risks early in your career, you tap into your true potential.