4 ways to prevent yourself from getting complacent at work

Taking the easy way out at work — by getting too comfortable with the status quo — won’t always prove rewarding for your career.

Here’s how to stay on your toes at work so that you’re ready for whatever comes your way.

Don’t back down from workplace challenges

If you spend all your time sliding by and resting on your laurels, you’ll be a lot less prepared for the next big assignment your manager throws at you.

But if you metaphorically toss yourself “into the fire” by getting involved in a new type of project, you’ll learn about how you fare under pressure, how to work through the tough parts, and what you need to do to improve your approach.

Once you prove to yourself that you can successfully do something difficult the first time, you might feel less nervous when something similar comes around.

Actively seek solutions to your team’s problems

Do you notice your supervisor posing the same questions to your team? Or your coworkers complaining about the same workflow issues? These are signs that the underlying problems here need to be addressed before potentially spiraling into something worse.

Come up with possible solutions to roadblocks that frequently pop up. Take note of common issues — if any of them are related to your expertise, you might be more inclined to try and solve them yourself, and bring them to your supervisor’s attention.

You might even impress company leaders by demonstrating that you would make an great manager in the future.

Check in with your manager regularly

If you don’t have performance reviews, it’s up to you to be proactive and find out how your boss thinks you’re doing — even if you don’t have much of a relationship with him or her at this point.

Your boss will be able to point out how you’re doing, what you need to work on, and answer your most pressing questions. You’ll also appear more engaged in the work you’re doing and concerned about your professional development as a whole.

Start a conversation instead of aimlessly trucking along until you get very critical feedback.

Keep meeting new people in your industry

If you keep your eyes peeled for them, you’ll discover that networking opportunities are far and wide.

New to your field? See if you can shadow someone doing a job that catches your eye. If you’re a seasoned veteran, you should still jump at the chance to make new connections with people in other departments and at industry events.

Even if you already know a handful of people at conferences, be sure to push yourself to form new relationships. While doing your research before the event, consider briefly reaching out on social media to speakers you’ll be hearing from to (hopefully) generate a discussion between the two of you.

Joining clubs and affinity groups are another way to both use and sharpen your networking skills.