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6 Tips to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone | Women in Tech

Women in Tech webinars held by Crimson offer an excellent opportunity to network with others, and engage in open, non-judgmental discussions. In the most recent webinar, Joanne Thurlow, a Strategy and Transformation Senior Advisor with over thirty years’ experience in the tech industry, provided great insight on how, as a woman, to step out of your comfort zone. While comfort zones offer a sense of familiarity, safety, and security, staying in your comfort zone can often impede your success. Joanne shared her first-hand experiences with stepping out of her comfort zone and highlighted six key points for doing so.  

Turning challenges into opportunities.  

Joanne shared how she experienced a challenge in her personal life which she used as an opportunity for growth and advancement. She discussed how she had always dreamed of working abroad, and so this life-change gave her the opportunity to do so. Joanne has since moved from Canada to the United Kingdom to Norway, then Germany and is now residing in the Isle of Man. The challenge that Joanne faced triggered her to rethink her life plan, and to step out of her comfort zone. Joanne emphasised the importance shifting your mindset, as she expressed “perspective is everything!”.  

This webinar is all about changing your mindset and viewing challenges and experiences as an opportunity for growth and progression. The challenges you face can be viewed as part of your adventure, you’re bound to face obstacles along the way, and this will make success sweeter. Joanne emphasised that we should view every challenge as an opportunity in disguise and use it for learning and growth. Many of us are familiar with SWOT analysis used in strategic planning – Joanne suggests carrying out a SWOT analysis on the challenges we face on our paths, identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. We may not be able to control the obstacles we face, but we can control how we respond to them.  

Why failures and setbacks are as important as successes and wins 

Stepping out of your comfort zone means becoming comfortable with failure, setbacks, successes, and wins. We will never learn to move out of our comfort zone if we do not overcome our fear of failure. Failure fosters perseverance and teaches us to overcome hardship. We must learn to view failure as an opportunity to re-evaluate and refocus our vision. Failure is inevitable, and so the sooner we become comfortable with failure, the sooner life will become more positive. Failure increases our humility and makes us more relatable and understanding to others. Therefore, failures and setbacks are just as important as successes and wins. Just as failure is inevitable, so are successes. The feeling of failure is temporary, just as the feeling of success. If we only celebrate and feel happy when the feeling of success is around, are we supposed to exist in a state of misery at all other times? No, we should plan for success and celebrate it, but we should also do the same for failure. Failures are simply opportunities for growth and change. Failure serves as a steppingstone to success, provides perspective on success, and is central to innovation. 

The art of sacrifice in balancing life, family, and career  

Sometimes it is okay to admit that we cannot do it all at once. Joanne emphasised the importance of expecting sacrifice, and that nothing will ever be equally balanced. For example, there will be times when your family needs you and your career must take a backseat, which is to be expected. Joanne stressed the importance of learning to say no and making guilt free time for yourself. She emphasised that the ideal time for the future you want may not be now, and in this situation, you must ask what can you do now in preparation for the future?  

Risk-taking - the key ingredient of getting out of your comfort zone 

If you are stuck in your habits or routines, you are not growing or learning anything new. Even though it can be daunting and often uncomfortable, taking risks opens the doors to innovation and opportunity. The level of unease we feel when carrying out risks is a reflection of the level of risk. Once you start to reap the rewards of risk taking, stepping out of your comfort zone becomes much easier. Innovation would never occur if people did not take risks. The fear and discomfort we experience when taking risks creates a stress response in the body which motivates us to focus and take action, and step out of the comfort zone,  

Face the fear – do it anyway! 

Sometimes we need to “feel the fear and do it anyway”. Many of the reasons that people are afraid to take risks is fear of failure, rejection, ridicule, or criticism and the fear of not being in control. We must develop confidence in ourselves to manage situations that may come our way. Each time you successfully handle a new situation, your self-esteem and confidence rise, no matter how big or small the situation. To step out of your comfort zone, you must learn to welcome fear. Realise that fear is mentally created - an imagination of something that has not happened yet, and that may never happen. This journey can begin by doing something as simple as eating at a new restaurant or taking a new route to work.  

Why imposter syndrome is a ‘possibility on progress’ 

Much of the fear attached to risk-taking and stepping out of your comfort zone can be linked to imposter syndrome, in which an individual doubts their skills, talents and accomplishments, believing that they are not as competent as others perceive them to be. A webinar attendee shared her personal experience with imposter syndrome. She explained that, whilst she is comfortable in challenging situations and thrives off interacting with others, the use of apps such as Teams and Zoom that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic made it especially difficult to read the room, give people time to speak, and have led to a sense of self-doubt and a decrease in self-confidence. This example demonstrates that everyone feels like an imposter at some point in their lives, and that is okay, but living an imposter life is not. Joanne emphasised the importance of taking stock of your skills and strengths, embracing your victories, and recognising your learning gaps. When you do so, you can reframe, and begin to see yourself as “possibility in progress.” Joanne recommended conducting personality assessments and asking what you bring to the table – taking the time to develop you and your values. The more you know yourself, the more certain you will become of yourself.  

On a final note, Joanne recommended skydiving as a means of stepping out of your comfort zone… will you be giving it a go?  


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