“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” is a cliche that I’ve probably heard about a million times. Despite being a cliche, it has always resonated with me. It has been a constant reminder that when things are becoming routine and mundane, it’s time to find new ways to challenge myself and create opportunities for personal development. I hope that my story will inspire you to get out of your comfort zone, tread down the unbeaten path, and create your own opportunities.
Have you ever felt like your life was going in circles?
Back in 2015, I felt a similar sentiment. I was three years into my first job out of college, and it seemed like I was quickly approaching my ceiling there. After spending the majority of my life in the Greater Houston Area, and I was starting to have Bill Murray in ‘Groundhog Day’ vibes. I desired more for myself, but I was unsure about how to obtain it.
The Second City
I’d been performing Improv Comedy for a few years now. A hobby I picked up back when I was in sixth grade. For me, Improv was a scheduled time for me to be creative, be weird, and take risks in a judgment-free place. One day I received an email about The Second City coming to town for a workshop. I knew of The Second City as a place where a lot of my favorite comedians got their start, so I was pumped at the opportunity to learn from them. After the workshop I talked to one of the cast members and learned about his experience with Improv and Sketch Comedy and how he became a part of The Second City Touring Company. From our conversation I learned that I should consider moving to Chicago if I was interested in pursuing comedy.
Chicago was a place that I never thought in a million years I would live. It’s freezing cold, the media portrayed it as such a dangerous place, and I never lived outside of Texas before. However, this felt like an opportunity to break the monotonous cycle and get outside of my comfort zone. I eagerly began spending the majority of my free time researching jobs in Chicago and applying. After an exhausting several months of applying and dead-end interviews, I was excited to receive a great opportunity working in the beer industry.
From this experience, I learned the importance of being open to new ideas. Living in Chicago is not something I ever considered prior to attending that workshop, but this has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It’s crazy how far a hobby can take you. Improv really was an afterthought when I first discovered it. In sixth grade, I originally wanted to take band as an elective. However my mom said she didn’t want a bunch of ‘child noises’ in the house, so I signed up for Theater instead.
Through Theater I discovered Improv, and it has opened up several doors for me. Lastly, I learned the importance of being determined to accomplish a goal. I spent a lot of my free time researching and applying to jobs in Chicago. Without that dedicated effort, I wouldn’t have been able to break free from my monotonous routine.
Fast forward to 2018. I’m two years into my Chicago experience and had a difficult decision to make regarding my professional career. Up until this point I was working as an analyst at Anheuser Busch, and after two years in the role you become eligible for promotion. After discussing with my manager, I learned that the leadership team wanted me to get some field sales experience. However, this would require me to relocate from Chicago.
I had an appetite to pursue sales as my next career move, but I was not ready to move from Chicago. I was heavily involved in the comedy scene, and still felt that there was still a lot of Chicago that I needed to take in. I needed to find a way into sales while also staying in Chicago. Previously I explored moving into sales, and was unsuccessful in finding the right opportunity for me. In previous interviews, I received feedback that I was too reserved to be successful in sales. That feedback combined with the fact that I had six years of experience that didn’t directly relate to sales, had me struggling with what to do next.
While taking a Sketch Comedy Writing Class I made a friend that was working in the Tech community. Technology had always interested me and I sought my friend Adam’s advice on how to make a transition into the Tech world. He introduced me to this program called Victory Lap. A bootcamp catered to people that don’t come from traditional sales backgrounds, but are seeking entry level Tech Sales roles. This opportunity had me incredibly excited.
I was grateful for the connection Adam was able to make between myself and Victory Lap’s leadership team. Throughout Victory Lap’s program, I learned how to prepare for an interview, developed an understanding of the outbound sales process, and how to network with folks in the Tech space. After completing the Victory Lap program I landed my first job in Tech Sales.
A couple of things that stood out to me during this experience was the importance of networking and also asking for help. I may have been able to eventually land a sales job on my own, but it was definitely easier having a friend that could make the right connections for me. Being willing to take risks is also crucial when attempting to create your own opportunities. I had to quit my job at Anheuser Busch without a guaranteed job lined up, so I had to bet on myself in order to reach my desired destination.
Creating your own opportunities is both a challenging and rewarding experience. Here are a few takeaways that have helped me:
- Get outside of your comfort zone
You truly won’t be able to test yourself unless you’re willing to get outside of your comfort zone. Things may feel uncomfortable at first, but that uneasiness can lead to new opportunities.
2. Hobbies are important
Hobbies are a great way to flex muscles that you don’t use every day, and also discover new interests. You also never know who you might meet while pursuing a hobby.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Share your desires with your inner circle and seek out their guidance. This could potentially decrease the level of difficulty in creating a new opportunity.
Today you can start by simply writing down a few goals or ideas that you currently have. Then think critically about how you might go about achieving them. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” How uncomfortable are you willing to get in order to create a new opportunity?