Monday, August 16, 2010

Out to Chase a Dream: Out of the comfort zone

People are almost always scared of getting out of their comfort zone. Who would ever choose something they’re unfamiliar with? According to an article, “Escaping Your Comfort Zone”, it’s a basic psychology that we feel scared because when we venture out, we feel anxious. Staying in our comfort zone, however, may prevent us from pursuing our dreams or living the life we want when it doesn’t have to. For me, the simple process of knowing what I want, writing down the things I want to achieve, and having the courage to stick with it makes a difference.

I know what I want. On my first day as a teacher of English as a Second Language, I had a plan in mind: learn everything I can. The time limit? Five years. It did give me great experiences; meeting people of different personalities, getting along with foreign students, even having the opportunity to learn a little of Hangul. It also paved way to more leadership roles and of course, high payment. I was on the peak of my teaching stint when I heard the deadline clock. It was not easy, but taking a step towards my life plan is something I couldn’t ignore.

I recorded what I want to do in a week, in a month, in a year, and even in five years. I was having a dilemma. When I checked my list of to-dos, I had the confirmation of having accomplished my five-year plan. Perhaps it was time to leave. For me, the concept of having a job for life is outdated. Shifting careers is not just a way of taking chances, it also means broadening experiences. It was strengthened when I read an article that says, “Changing jobs gives you a broader base of experience: After about three years, you've learned most of what you're going to know about how to do your job. Therefore, over a ten year period, you gain more experience from "three times 90 percent" than "one times 100 percent." 

Sticking with my plan of becoming a professor, I left the job I was comfortable with. I started to contact some old colleagues for flex-time schedules that will enable me to job hunt for day jobs. Luckily, I got what I wanted. Now, I don’t have to compromise a responsibility for my personal preferences. I never did regret doing it. I may not have much income I used to enjoy, but I am deeply satisfied that I was on my way to realizing my dreams. “You should always be sure your new job offers you the means to satisfy your values. While there's no denying the strategic virtues of selective job changing for the purpose of career leverage, you want to make sure the path you take will lead you where you really want to go.” 

Now, I get to keep my list and am very eager to follow it. Job security is such a good thing, but being constantly afraid to take new steps is a lot more risky. When you refuse to get out of the comfort zone, you can never realize your capability. This may sound easy but I have learned that taking things down on paper can be of great help when you are in doubt or indecisive. We need to choose which path to take as there are countless of them in our lifetime. When caught in the middle of making big decisions, having a plan might just help you out. If you already have a list, then all you need is the courage to work it out.

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