Brave is the word that has been used by many people when I told them I was leaving my secure ‘job for life’ in the Public Sector after two decades to go and work for a growing start-up. I didn’t think of it as being brave, but it did mean leaving my comfort zone, and I suppose that takes courage to do and that’s what I want to talk about in this blog.
I had gotten used to the same familiar faces greeting me each morning in an office that I had been attending for the last 20 years (different organisations and various job roles but all from within the same building!). It’s comforting knowing your role inside and out, as well as having people around you that know what you are capable of, but staying in a role that didn’t fully utilise my skills & experience had left me feeling burnt out, disengaged, and wanting a change. By staying in your comfort zone, you are restricting yourself of personal growth, learning, and success.
Learning how to get out of your comfort zone takes willpower, motivation and a change in mindset. Stepping out of your comfort zone might be meeting new people, going to the gym, travelling to a new place, starting a new job or even just a change in routine like where you do your weekly ‘big shop’!
My journey to stepping outside of my comfort zone started last year when I attended the BA Conference Europe last September which was something I had always wanted to do but not had the opportunity. I really enjoyed meeting new fellow BAs and attending some inspiring talks. I came away realising the BA world was a bigger place than my just my organisation and wanting to expand my network and knowledge more. It made me reflect on my career as a Senior BA and realised I had become too comfortable and had outgrown my role and wanting a change. I researched my options and concluded that I was 100% certain that I wanted to remain in the BA profession and unfortunately there wasn’t any opportunities internally to progress so knew I needed to look at what my options were externally.
I fostered a mindset of continuous learning and became more active on LinkedIn to learn more about what was trending in the BA industry and to make new connections which opened up new experiences and activities such as attending a webinar with Jamie Toyne (Founder of Herd) and Emal Bariali (BA BLOCKS) which was about career pathways for Senior BAs. After attending this, the role of consulting really appealed to me as it offered flexibility in how to carry out the BA role, be in a position to help & advise others and offer exposure to different areas of work and learning opportunities outside of the Public Sector. Luckily for me, Herd were recruiting and after a few further chats and an interview I was offered a role as Principal Consultant!
Having a support system makes stepping out of your comfort zone a lot easier than doing it on your own and I was able to talk through this opportunity with my husband, friends and co-workers to ask for advice and their support. We agreed I was taking a risk, but I felt that the feeling of regret would be more than fear of failure. The risk with not taking risks is that you may be missing out on reaching your true potential. I assessed the risks and developed contingency plans, balancing the risks with the opportunities that I anticipated and used this to make an informed decision to take the new job.
On reflection I think the reason I didn’t feel ‘brave’ was because I was looking at this opportunity with the best possible outcome in mind, rather than fearing the worst. I’m a fan of visualisation & manifestation and I think these techniques helped me on this journey.
“You will never have to chase what’s meant for you. Naturally, it will gravitate towards you, like a puzzle piece, everything will click into place effortlessly“Samantha Gabardi
Transitioning from the public sector to consulting is a significant shift but I know that my business analysis skills and experiences from my background will be valuable in my new role. As Business Analysts we adapt to change, use data to drive decision making, face challenges and solve problems and use our soft skills such as collaboration and communication, but how often do you use these skills to help yourself and your own personal development? For example you could carry out a SWOT analysis to assess your own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in your career then use this analysis to make informed decisions about your professional development path.
If you stay in your comfort zone you’ll never know what you are truly capable of, start pushing through that initial fear and start challenging yourself and looking for opportunities to learn and set some personal goals. Find what motivates you and challenge yourself one step at a time. The best way is to gradually expand your comfort zone by trying new activities and experiences, this can be as simple as working from a different place in your home or a coffee shop a couple of times a week to get out of a rut and add some spontaneity and get comfortable with being uncomfortable!
Thinking about leaving your comfort zone? Do it!
- Set some personal goals (visualise where you want to be)
- Start making small changes
- Try new activities and experiences
- Build and use your support system
- Reap the rewards!
It’s a continuous journey and I want to keep pushing myself, for example this is the first time I have written a blog! I hope you have enjoyed reading it and can take something away from it and I’d love to hear from you if you do.
🖊️ Authored by: Sinead Torley, Principal Consultant at Herd Consulting
🎧 Most listened to song of the week: Used to be Young – Miles Cyrus
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