As you consider what you’d like for your work-life, career or business in the year ahead, ask… what one thing scares you more than anything else?
Are you worried about loss of income? Of experiencing disappointment or rejection? Of being judged by your peers or letting someone down? Are you anxious about being just one organisational restructure away from a redundancy? Do you feel exhausted by the job search or trapped working for a toxic manager? Does the thought of putting yourself out there terrify you?
Or is it something else? It’s highly likely whatever this one thing is, it’s the nexus of what’s holding you back from achieving your dream job or building a business you love.
What scares you most is often a signal about what you should be doing!
Do you dismiss things that scare you with “legitimate” excuses? You’re not alone. We’d all rather feel safe than proactively step into situations that create feelings of personal, social or professional discomfort, right?
But… every time you excuse yourself from doing something uncomfortable, you’ve 100% guaranteed that thing won’t happen for you.
In 1, 2 or 5 years from now, how will you feel about what you’ve missed out on if you don’t address what’s scaring you? And, is this more or less than the fear you have of doing it?
The first step to conquering your fear is to name it.
If you’re feeling stuck in a career that no longer “fits” you, it’s highly likely you’re being held in place by one of these five common professional fears –
1. FEAR OF FAILURE
This is possibly the most likely fear in the way of doing anything new. You might hate what you’re doing now but at least you’re surviving (hopefully!). What if you make a change – get a promotion, move to a new organisation, start a business – and it doesn’t work?
It’s strange how culturally conditioned we’ve become to fear failure when, in fact, it’s only through failure that we learn, grow, and succeed. If you try, yes, you might fail… but, if you don’t try, you’re also never going to succeed.’
2. FEAR OF LOSS
Sometimes it seems easier to stick with what you’re currently doing, even if you’re bored, unhappy or frustrated, because you’re worried about what you might lose during the process of change. This might include loss of income (the BIG one), loss of freedom (due to an increase in responsibilities), loss of career progress (what about all the years you’ve put into getting this far?), or loss of status or credibility.
It’s human nature to fixate on what you’re likely to lose. Psychologists refer to this phenomenon as “negativity bias” and it’s something we’ve be pre-programmed with through evolution. Develop a more balanced view by identifying the potential positives and the likely gains.
3. FEAR OF NOT BEING GOOD ENOUGH (IMPOSTER SYNDROME)
When it comes to finding a new role, changing careers or starting a business, it’s true that “experience” can be perceived as a vicious cycle. You need experience to get “the role”, but you need to have “the role” in order to get experience.
However, each of us has a set of knowledge, experience, strengths, and skills that together comprise our unique career value. It’s entirely possible (indeed, probable) that already have what’s required to do most roles you’re considering. Or you have the capability and commitment to working it out. Either, don’t count yourself out before assessing and putting your best foot forward.
4. FEAR OF WHAT OTHERS THINK
Like me, you might worry about what other people will think and say. Will your family, friends, and colleagues support you or meet your decisions with concern, disapproval, or judgement? When you apply for a job or reach out to make connections with individuals or businesses, will they think you’re good enough, smart enough, experienced enough? What if they reject you or embarrass you?
You’re likely over-thinking this and exaggerating how much time others (including those who know and love you) spend evaluating you’re every move. The truth is you’re not going to be for everyone and that’s ok. Don’t let this discourage you. It’s far better for you to engage with those who are like-minded than struggle to change the minds of those who don’t understand.
5. FEAR OF JOB LOSS AND “QUITTING GUILT”
These two fears are opposite ends of the same spectrum. On the one hand you live in constant fear you’re just one organisational restructure away from a redundancy; and, on the other hand, you’re so entrenched with the people you work with, you feel needed, and you’re worried by moving on you’ll let them down. Either way, you’re incredibly loyal and heavily identify with your current role, you’re stuck… and anxious. You’re taking responsibility for proving the necessity of your role or filling management gaps. The problem is these are organisational decisions over which you have very little influence. Time to focus on your own wellbeing.
Once you know what’s in your way, you can start to move past them. You can’t completely eradicate your fears but there simple steps and tools you can use to “turn the volume down” so they don’t bother you so much.
Imagine what you’d feel like if this was the year you (finally!) make things happen. Go on… close your eyes and feel it as if it’s already happened. How good does it feel?
If you want this to be the year you stop talking about what you’re “gonna” do and actually get crystal clear about who you are and what you want, so you’re in a position to decide your next career move with confidence – please get in touch and let’s discuss how we can make 2022 the year you’ll remember.