Quit your comfort zone to find your true calling

Expand your horizons by being open to new ideas and networking outside of your comfort zone - it could be a one-way ticket to the career of your dreams.

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Your true calling or what you really want to do with your life can sometimes only start to make sense over a lengthy period time.

While some have known what they want to do since they were young children – seeing something they liked in a movie for example – others might spend 30 or even 40 years trying to find their passion.

When I was growing up, I always had a rough idea that I wanted to be in the creative field, to create a difference, introduce something new that would change the way people perceived their lives, maybe even inspire someone to follow their own passion. As I graduated from university, the idea began to formulate more. By the time I joined the workforce, I knew exactly what I wanted to do and followed both my passion for writing and being a social cause advocate.

What helped me find my true calling is a combination of what others told me, analysing emails, attending various events and moving away from my comfort zone.

Perhaps what confuses the youth in our community is how things have changed over the last few decades, how fast that change is taking place, and not knowing whether to follow traditional paths or embark on new fields. When the United Arab Emirates was formed, there was a calling for engineers, doctors, and business graduates.

Fast-forward to the 1990s and the formation of the online movement and commerce, and communication took a different form. There was a need for different kinds of engineers and business people. The online portals I used 10 years ago as a teenager are obsolete now.

Then we entered the fast pace of the new millennium, with technological advancements gaining pace and the creation of jobs we would never have heard of a few years ago – social media managers, bloggers and social media influencers. It seems you’ve just got the hang of something, and then something else is introduced. If we do not evolve, we will not keep up.

I recall a conversation I had with a manager of a company two years ago. She was against the use of social media to promote her company. Just one year later, she was heavily investing in her company’s online presence. She was falling behind her competitors, and had to survive, even if it meant doing something she did not initially believe in.

Lots of people, especially the youth, are lost in this craze haze. They are torn between following traditional educational and career paths that their parents encourage them to follow, and trying new schools of thought. Within Arab society, many parents do not believe in the new age fields of study such as media, mass communication. Instead they encourage their children to follow “safer” and “traditional” paths such as medicine and engineering.

The work environment is no different. We have the older generation members of the team that do not want to evolve, and the new kids in the workforce who want to alter things altogether. And then of course you have those who are stuck in between. This can create confusion as to what the right way of doing things actually is, and it can divert some of us from following our dreams.

So how do you get yourself out of this rut? Whether you are in a cubicle at work, or work from home, find your true mission. You could be surprised that the latest craze, and the fast pace of life could actually inspire you to do something.

Find out what your capabilities are. Build your connections, and explore all options out there. Go with the flow, and evolve as businesses grow. If you stay behind the trends, your business and you could miss out, and it would be hard to catch up again.

What has helped me personally is expanding my connections and going beyond my comfort zone by attending networking events, talking to people from different walks of life.

With all the new trends in this fast-evolving business world, it’s easy to get confused about which career path to follow. The trick is to move with the flow and not against it. Expand your network, talk to a lot of people and put yourself in uncomfortable and non-traditional situations. It is strange how simple actions such as talking to a variety of business people can guide you towards your true calling.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer based in Abu Dhabi. Follow her on Twitter: @manar_alhinai

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