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Dealing With Fear In Your Career

We all experience fear, but how do you handle fear in your career? Does it hold you back?

In this article, learn how to remove this road block to your career success.

Fear in your career can have various degrees of impact on you.

From the more subtle like shying away from opportunities to the much more serious like causing complete career paralysis and becoming stuck in a job going nowhere.

Did you know there are healthy and unhealthy fears?... And it’s the unhealthy type of fear that causes you to get stuck!

What is the difference between healthy and unhealthy fear?

Well, healthy fear originates from your genetic makeup. It’s there to deal with immediate physical dangers like being attacked by a lion or snake! Your fight or flight response is triggered and a little voice in your head says “Careful! Be alert! Danger!”. This kind of danger comes and goes quickly and so does the fear attached to it.

However, unhealthy fear tends to relate to things that don’t pose a real threat. Instead they are often created out of the perceptions of ourselves and uncertainty in our ability to handle a given situation.

The key difference between the two:

Healthy fear is triggered by something externally while unhealthy fear is created internally.

The serious consequences of unhealthy fears

Since, unhealthy fear is created in the mind it can follow you everywhere and doesn’t stop.

This can compound in your daily life and have serious consequences by increasing general stress levels and causing changes to you physically like sustained spikes in adrenaline that lead to unclear thinking, sudden fatigue and decision paralysis.

How To Dissolve Unhealthy Fear

There are 4 key questions you can ask yourself to identify unhealthy fears and replace the doubt with a ‘can do’ mindset:

1. Am I in immediate danger? Real danger tends to come suddenly and vanishes soon after. Contrary to imagined fear which feels like a danger but never goes away.

2. What evidence is there that this fear is real? If there is no external proof, the situation may be exaggerated by your own perceptions.

3. Do you feel paralyzed? Imagined fear tends to paralyze you while real fear forces you to take action.

4. Is the fear making you feel ashamed or less of yourself? If the answer is yes, then it is definitely a perceived fear.

Once you’ve identified the fear as unhealthy — acknowledge it. In acknowledging its existence, it allows you to deal with it.

Given unhealthy fears are often triggered by our uncertainty to cope in a situation.

One of the best ways I’ve found to deal with unhealthy fear is to create a mindset shift in my thoughts with this simple phrase “I’ll handle it…”

Man talking to reflection - career fear

  Tell yourself - "I'll handle it"

Tell yourself no matter what happens you’ll find a way to handle it. So, whatever it is commit to finding a way to do it…

You’ve be given a new task and you’ve never done it before — Tell yourself “I’ll handle it”

You need to write a report on a tight deadline — Tell yourself “I’ll handle it”

It’s your first presentation standing up in front of your team — Tell yourself “I’ll handle it”

Use quality questions to keep forward momentum

Then back this up with good quality questions like:

“what’s the smallest step I could do right now to move this task forward?” OR “what’s one way I could find out more information and empower myself to do this task better?

I believe, we are all far more capable than we think we are and our unhealthy fears often get in the way of us using our full potential. Whilst this technique won’t remove every ounce of unhealthy fear it will clear any roadblocks, turn down the volume on negative thoughts and give you the ability to take action.

By taking action you build your competence which leads to confidence and confidence is the best medicine to dissolve lingering fears.

Do interviews create fear in your mind? If so, check out this post which specifics help deals with interview nerves.

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About the Author Andrew Walsh

Andrew is a strategist, career performance expert and mindset master. A qualified Chartered Accountant and former CFO, he has a variety of experience in top 100 corporates, professional services and building businesses. His passion is ‘results driven education’ and maximising experiential learning to rapidly develop individuals for real results.

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