What to do when your comfort zone at work feels like a velvet prison
I've met a number of people recently who are comfortable in their jobs but unhappy. The problem is they feel trapped.
The further they move up the career ladder, the more it matters what their boss thinks of them. There’s something about the opportunity costs that have them question what they might be giving up if they were to make big decisions.
Sometimes those big decisions are simply to speak up in meetings and share what they're really thinking. Other times it's that they're not quite finding themselves in their role. They know their talents aren't fully being utilised but they're either afraid of what might happen if they shared what was on their minds, or don't think there's any point in doing so because they won't be heard anyway.
The latest UK engagement stats from Gallup show that 57% are not engaged at work and 26% are actively disengaged.
So why would someone stay in a job that didn't engage them? I believe it's proper comfort zone stuff. We all know that outside our comfort zone is where the magic happens but we've got to walk through the fear of the unknown to find it. It takes courage to admit something's not working in the first place.
The irony of working with courage is that most of us become less and less courageous because we don’t want to stand out or rock the boat. We want to enjoy what we do and be successful but we don’t want to risk career suicide. We’ll put up with so much more than we did when we were younger because before we didn’t care if we got sacked - we didn’t have the responsibility of 2.4 kids and a Labrador!
If you're feeling like your caught in a trap and your comfort zone is now uncomfortable and frustrating you it's time to take charge.
Courage is a muscle and if you don't use it, you lose it. There'll be lots of people around you whose courage has faded over time. It's not that you don't have it, you'll have made courageous decisions in the past - it's about remembering it!
I'm not going to tell you the fear will go away but it's about being honest with yourself. The decision to take charge and drive instead of being a passenger is key.
Knowing what you really want is the way out and if you don't know what that is right now, making a decision to find out is the first step.
It's about having an opinion about who you are, what you're brilliant at and what you stand for.
Then it's about sticking to it no matter what.