“Growth means change and change involves risk, stepping from the known to the unknown.” George Shin
Stepping into the unknown is scary! We tend to gravitate to that which is familiar because we know what to expect. We take the same route to work every day because it makes sense. We talk to the same people at work because we are accustomed to them. We like what is known. It feels safe.
But I want to challenge you with this question – how have you grown in the known?
Stepping into the unknown does not have to be a major event, it just has to be a small step outside of the box. Here are 4 tips to help you step into the unknown and grow.
1. Engage a Stranger in Conversation
This task will prove easy for some of you, but for others this is a major challenge.
For those of you who find it easy to talk to others I challenge you to start a conversation with someone who can influence your career or personal relationships. Make the conversation meaningful so they remember you.
For those of you who find this very challenging, start a small conversation with someone in the store or in an adjacent work space. Common conversation starters can be family, current events or the weather (seriously, it has been 103 degrees where I live – that is a conversation piece).
2. Start a Project
Projects are a great way for us to flex both sides of our brain. Flex the logical side of your brain by setting a goal with specific steps to achieve it. Flex the creative side of your brain by actually designing and working on the project. For added stretch, recruit someone to join you in order to get fresh perspective as well as a social partner. Projects also add value because we have something tangible to be proud of when we are done.
3. Join an Organization
There are so many interesting organizations to be a part of. From non-profit to social, there is something for everyone. Facebook built in a new feature that uses your interests and suggests groups accordingly. There is also Meetup that offers tons of local groups. I have made life-long friends through Meetup groups.
Joining an organization can potentially scratch #1 and #2 off of your list, resulting in PHENOMENAL growth!
4. Take the First Step Towards Your Goal
Everything in life starts with small action. Take the first step towards achieving your goal. Want to lose weight? Start walking. Want to go back to school? Call the registration office to find out what you need to do. Want to write a book? Create your outline.
Gains are small and/or non-existent when we stay in the unknown. Be happy with where you are yes, but do not forget your potential and your purpose. As long as you stay safe you can’t reach your potential and will likely fall short of fully living in your purpose.
Good luck growing!
I have a confession to make to you. I am hardcore, addicted to planning. I make lists. I map out my life. I break down events that are supposed to be enjoyable and measure them to the minute. I have lost several travel companions because of this addiction. I know I have a problem but it is getting better.
Seriously though, I do love planning. Give me an objective and I will break it down into pieces and have milestones associated with it quicker than you can you can bake a cake. I really do enjoy it. I am an ENTJ on Myers Briggs so I think that is where a lot of it comes from, that “T” and “J” working together.
I’m sure you have heard the saying, “if you want to make God laugh tell Him your plans,” I know that I have cracked God up multiple times.
So much of my life has not gone as planned but some of the biggest deviations have yielded the most incredible growth and learning experiences.
One of the biggest deviations I have made has been in regards to my career plan. When I started my career I had everything mapped out down to the year, title and location. One day I made a decision to apply for a position that was not in my plan – it was a completely different department and had a completely different function. I calculated that this move would help me advance and really build a solid foundation so I deviated.
I spent almost two years in that role. And you know what, my calculation was wrong. I did not move into the position that I had in my original plan – the role this one was supposed to build a foundation for – instead I moved into a better one, another position that was still not in my plan but that paid more, had better hours and provided greater opportunity.
Fast forward to today and I am happy and my life is rich and it is still not going according to plan (I sing in a band and am starting my own business, so not part of the plan).
Planning is a great tool that gives us structure and provides order at work, but for our lives it needs to be a guide. Our lives can’t be mapped like a project. Set goals and give yourselves milestones but don’t stay too rigid to “the plan,” you might miss something beautiful. Life happens unexpectedly and growth happens more organically when we don’t have a perfect picture painted.
Sometimes it really sucks when the plans change, especially when they change without our permission - death, job loss, divorce. Use these times to reflect in your life. What am grateful for? What can I learn from this? How am I growing from this?
As I look back over the past few years, deviating from my plan was the best thing I could have ever done. Because my plan changed I was able to join a rock band. Because my plan changed I was able to see other talents I had at work. Because my plan changed I was able to be there for my family during a few difficult times.
I still love planning but I know now that the most invigorating and life changing experiences happen outside of the plan.
What has been your biggest deviation from "the plan?" Comment below.