If you are hoping to just wake up one day and magically gain all the skills you need for your dream job, you're not going to like what we have to say. But you definitely need to hear it. It's one of those tough love situations. You will never acquire those skills if you don’t take the initiative to take on challenges you're not 100% confident you can do. So how do you get started? You start by stepping out of your comfort zone. You probably hear this a lot, but what does it actually mean and how do you make that first step?
Let’s first examine the term comfort zone. A quick search on Wikipedia reveals that a comfort zone is a psychological state in which things feel familiar to a person and they are at ease and in control of their environment, experiencing low levels of anxiety and stress. In this zone, a steady level of performance is possible. When you repeatedly perform a task or use a skill, you become familiar with it. Eventually, it will feel second nature to you. You'll feel like you can do it in your sleep...probably because you will be so bored you actually will be falling asleep. That’s when you know you've established and entered your comfort zone.
Once you are in that comfort zone, you might feel relaxed and at ease which is exactly why it’s such a challenge to leave it. When you attempt to step outside of it (for example, challenging yourself to take on a new position with more responsibilities, or trying out new things that you’ve never done before), it’s not going to be pleasant. You have to fight your way through the discomfort in order to gain the experience, skills, and insights that you need.
Why go through all that trouble of stepping outside and risking getting beaten up and defeated? Well, if you are willing to accept the challenge, if you're up for and even embrace the struggle and the pain, the magic will happen. You will learn, grow, and develop the skills you need to advance towards your dream job and equally important, to navigate life in general. The expression, "no pain, no gain" is actually true, believe it or not? It may sound cliché but it's true. You also learn more from failure and making mistakes than from your successes. So don't be afraid to fail.
Remind yourself of your potential to learn and grow, and constantly challenge yourself to experiment. Don’t limit yourself to your current comfortable status. Take calculated risks. While it may seem stressful at first, the result will be greater self-discovery and satisfaction. You will be delighted and proud to discover your abilities. You will accomplish feats you never imagined you were capable of. It will be awesome!