Professional Development

6 career risks you should definitely take if you want to be successful

Written by Peter Jones

You’ve probably heard stories about people who have found career success by taking crazy leaps of faith. These days, playing it totally safe isn’t necessarily the way to reach the goals you hope to attain. While you certainly shouldn’t be reckless and take wild risks that could end your career (or damage it), there are some risks that are consistently worth taking across the board.

But how can you tell the difference between a risk that’s silly and a risk that will pay off? Here are a few examples of risks worth taking, whenever the opportunity knocks.

1. Ask for more.

Are you growing enough in your current position? Are you being challenged? Are you making what you’re worth? Do you have the training or certification you need to flourish in your job? If the answer to any of these is no, then do your homework, figure out what you would need to succeed, and then propose a plan to your boss about how you can get to where you want to be. Even if you don’t get everything you want, you’ll at least show your boss that you mean business—and that you know your own value. Start networking above your pay grade, and explore opportunities that would require you to stretch.

2. Don’t think of salary as the ultimate goal.

Keep your work-life balance squarely in your head. Anytime you think you aren’t being compensated enough, think of any non-monetary perks or benefits you receive. Also consider the culture of your company, and any life perks it affords you. If you’re sublimely happy where you are socially, professionally, and personally—and you’re getting enough time to flourish outside your job as well as in—then more money might actually hurt your life rather than help you to continue at a pace and style you enjoy.

3. Do what it takes to learn stuff.

Never ever pass up an opportunity to learn something new. Whenever you feel stuck, think about whether you could pick up another skill, certification, or even a degree. It’s never ever a bad idea to gain more knowledge, because along with it comes confidence, expertise, and credentials you can use to enhance your career!

4. Take a big move in the direction of your passion.

If you’re stagnating at work and you’ve thought of every possible way to make it better, but just can’t, then try something new. Strike out in a different direction. Maybe you can cut back on your hours and add on a part-time job doing something else to dip your toe in new waters. Or you can think about how to start your own side business and go it alone. Only bold moves can get you out of real ruts. Don’t be afraid to make them and move away from the cushy trap of “what you know.”

5. Learn to say “no.”

In this cutthroat economy where companies are downsizing and merging left and right, make sure you aren’t too afraid to say “no” when you’re getting dumped on. If you’re being asked to handle more work than you can do effectively, then it’s really okay to say “no.” You’re not being lazy; you’re making sure to take care of your professional and mental health and get your work done well.

6. Follow your bliss.

If you don’t have a passion for what you’re doing, then the bottom line is that you can and should pursue every opportunity that comes up to get you moving in the direction of your bliss. Even baby steps in the direction of happiness are better than no steps at all.

About the author

Peter Jones