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Tips for Managing Your Career Fears

John Lennon is often quoted as saying “There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love…” While the great musician probably wasn’t dispensing career information and advice, thinking about this philosophy may help you navigate your career – and the rest of your life – with success.

How often have you been motivated by fear? Maybe it started with being afraid to go back to school because you thought you were too old. Perhaps it was not going after a job or a promotion because you feared being rejected. Or, maybe you didn’t volunteer for a career-advancing project because you worried you didn’t have the right skills. Whatever it is, we are all too often held back by our own fears.

Pinpoint your fear

When said out loud (or written down) this can seem like an obvious step but it often takes a little thought to figure out what’s holding us back. One way to identify your specific fear is to think about something you really want in your career. If there’s something holding you back it will likely be at the end of your thought of what you want. For example “I want to that manager’s position but I’m afraid I won’t get it if I apply,” or “I want to go back to school but I’m afraid I won’t see my children as much.” When you understand your specific fear, then you can figure out how to diminish it.

Practice being afraid

Just like everything else in life, overcoming a fear takes practice. You may have seen extreme examples of this in immersion therapy for people with severe phobias. We’re not recommending that you jump head first into your deepest fears – especially without the guidance of a certified professional. But, practicing tackling small fears can help you gain the confidence you need to face bigger career-changing fears. Try to do something that scares you every day and you’ll be surprised how easily your other fears will dissipate.

Focus on the future, not regrets

It’s really easy to wish you had done something differently in the past. But focusing on these moments of regret could be affecting your present day decisions. There is a lot to learn by past mistakes or failures, but make sure you are thinking about what you will do differently next time not dwelling on the mistake itself.

Find a sympathetic ear

In the workplace, it can be hard to admit you are afraid of something – especially if that something is part of your job responsibilities. This can be especially true if you are young and just starting your career. However, finding someone you can trust at work to be an ally and a confidant can help you from getting in over your head or passed up for interesting assignments. By talking to someone in your office about your fear you may find they faced something similar and know what you can do to overcome it. If you can’t find someone at work, turn to your friends or family. Sometimes even just saying your fear out loud can help it seem less scary.

Reduce your stress

Fear is definitely linked to stress, so if you’re feeling particularly anxious about something make sure you add stress-reducing activities to your life. Eating right, exercising and meditating are all known to lower stress. Everyone is different so find something positive that helps take you to your “happy place” and make sure you do it a couple times a week. Conquering your career-related fears can help you advance in your current position and it may also help you get a new job (either now or down the road). When you get over your fears, you’ll be able to take greater risks that will result in greater rewards. Showing that you are the kind of person who can make an impact in an organization is a valuable employability skill and something that will make any employer take notice. Bryant & Stratton College Online aims to help students maximize their employability skills for career success through its Employability Series. This set of core competencies is integrated into the College’s online degree programs, to complement occupation-specific training and help graduates get hired. Interested in learning more about the online degree programs offered by Bryant & Stratton College Online? Call 1.888.447.3528 to speak with an admissions representative.


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