When you get into a groove at work, it’s tempting to want it to stay that way. It makes sense — feeling like you understand your role and have mastered your responsibilities bolsters confidence. Why wouldn’t you want to ride that wave for as long as possible? But if you truly want to grow in your career (think: raise, promotion, new job), it’s important to resist complacency. There comes a point at which you’ve got take on the next challenge.
Rather than stepping up to tackle more, though, people often make excuses so they don’t have to learn a new skill, take a mentee under their wing or expand their professional horizons. If you’ve found yourself getting too comfortable at work, take note.
Here are 5 excuses you may be telling yourself to avoid taking risks at work:
1. I’m too busy.
You might think it’s not the right time to step outside of your comfort zone, but let’s get real: Is there ever really a good time? At any given moment, there are a dozen different things on your plate, and it becomes all too easy to use these tasks as justification for why you shouldn’t take on something new. Brush your inner procrastinator aside and commit to making a concrete plan that will help you accomplish your objective.
In a select few cases (such as if you’re in the middle of a two-week sprint to meet a deadline), it is actually a good idea to hold off for a little bit. But don’t simply say you’ll get around to it when you have time — set up a reminder for yourself to get down to business as soon as things start to slow down.
2. I don’t want to step on anyone else’s toes.
The office politics struggle is real, so it makes sense to try to avoid drama when you can. But if this is one of your excuses to not try something new at work, it holds no water. Unless your goal involves actually vying for somebody else’s job, you’re unlikely to offend any coworkers. In fact, you’ll probably only flatter them if you reach out to express your curiosity about their job and ask to pick their brain. Having a well-rounded background can only benefit you and your company, so don’t be shy.
3. I should wait until my boss brings it up.
While good managers always have your career development on their radar, they’re not mind readers. You’re the only one who knows where your true passions lie and where you want to go. Therefore, it’s on you to speak up. And hey, bringing up a new idea to your manager is a great way to impress them with your proactivity (maybe even enough for them to offer you that raise you’ve been eyeing!).
4. I don’t know how.
In an age of unprecedented access to information, claiming that you can’t do something because you don’t know how doesn’t really cut it anymore. Beyond reaching out to your current coworkers, you can look up thousands of articles, videos and courses on any given topic you’d want to learn about, from coding to SEO to leadership skills and more. You’re just a Google search away from becoming more marketable — don’t hold back!
[Related: 6 Skills That Will Get You the Job]
5. I’m scared of messing up.
When it comes down to it, this is usually at the heart of why people avoid trying something new at work. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that mistakes are a natural part of growth. Everyone has made a mistake at some point in their career and lived to tell the tale. And if you find yourself needing extra support/advice as you navigate a transition into a previously unexplored role, you can always turn to HR, your boss or your mentor.
Being scared of trying something new is natural, but, as a cheesy motivational poster might say, “life begins where your comfort zone ends.” Any real progress is made by taking a risk, so drop the excuses and try to accept that those feelings of nervousness as just a sign of greater things to come. Before you know it, your new initiative will become second nature — and you’ll be that much better off because of it.