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7 strategies to take risks and grow your career

There are times you will need to take risks to grow your career. Are you ready to take them? Does the idea of taking risks scare you, or Is it something that comes more naturally to you?

The idea for this blog post came from my recent podcast interview with Alana Riley, Senior Vice President, Product & Distribution, Mortgage and Banking Solutions at IG Wealth Management. In it she talks about taking risks in her career and taking a job across the country, "got a job, packed up and moved the family. I think that fundamentally that huge risk really paid off, I don't think I would have had the same career opportunities that I have now.. sometimes you have to take a risk to leapfrog in your career." I wholeheartedly agree.

If I am honest, sometimes I am scared to admit that taking risks in my career comes more easily to me than it does for others. I often wonder, will people find me relatable if they know? But then I remember. We all have different strengths and talents that we can share with each other to learn and grow.

I have taken a lot of risks in my career, some that come to mind are:

  • Changing jobs roughly every 3 years, always to a promotion in role and pay.

  • Jumping from an advisor role to an Assistant Director role to be the youngest at the boardroom table

  • Quitting my job to run for politics

  • Starting a podcast and knowing nothing about how to make one

  • Taking on a Managing Director role for a not-for-profit when I only had a portion of the skills required for the job.

  • Starting my own business, during a pandemic, and with illness

Although some of these decisions were scary and hard, I would not change anything about the risks I have taken and where the results have taken me. And today I am going to break down my advice for how you can do this in your own career and life.

Here are 7 strategies you can use to take risks.

  1. Stop lying to yourself, stop telling yourself that women in leadership are not like you. In the interview, Alana shares how she has managed a career in financial planning with 3 children and one with disabilities. Everyone has challenges and barriers in their life, and regardless of your own, there are women who look like you at the top. And if there are not, all the more reason that person should be you, to create opportunities for the women that follow.

  2. Change your mindset. Instead of letting fear take over your thoughts, flip the script. I like to think about the opportunities I am missing out on by not taking risks. And my fear of missing out outweighs the fear of taking action. I have chased down former Prime Minister’s on the street to talk to them using this technique, CRAZY, I know…

  3. Don’t trust your gut. Everyone will say trust your gut, and that is true… unless the only thing holding you back is fear of trying something new. In that case, ignore it!

  4. Don’t overthink your decision. When I quit my job to run for politics I was terrified. But I decided to not overthink the decision. Make the decision and then put your fear into an imaginary box and lock it. I mean it, imagine yourself locking the box. Then make a mantra you can repeat to yourself every time fear tries to take over. For example, “I've got this”. “One step at a tim.”

  5. Believe in yourself and your capabilities. Shut down imposter syndrome. Believe in yourself and your own skill sets and record.

  6. Trust your mentors. If you can’t believe in yourself enough to take the plunge (it happens and that’s okay), find others who can support you. Believe them and trust their judgment of you to move forward with your decision.

  7. Get out of your own way. Alana put it beautifully in our interview, “...let go of what you think you can do, and let go of what you think other people can do, we are capable of so much more..."

I want to be clear, if you don’t want to grow your career there is NOTHING wrong with that. BUT if fear is the thing holding you back, then you should take the risk and do the thing.

I want to add a reminder that my good friend and co-founder Myrrhanda Novak shared with me, growing your career and taking risks is not always about upward movement. For example, sometimes moving to a different team and expanding your experience is what is required, or moving like Alana did.

I want to close off with some wise words by Alana who said, “let go of what you think you can do, we are all so capable of anything we set our mind to, your own limitations are just the limitations that you determine..."

Take the risk, do the thing, you’ve got this.

For more of Alana’s interview listen here, or get it where you listen.

What would you add to this list? Share in the comments..

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