“Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.” ― Jim Morrison
As humans, we can be skeptical about new things as we assume that they will negatively impact our lives. For most of us, change represents different degrees of ‘fear’. Fear is a double-edged sword, while it can guarantee our safety as a primal instinct, it can stop us from having wonderful life experiences. This is certainly true when it comes to our work lives.
Throughout my work as a Career & Executive Coach, for nearly all the clients I have worked with, the topic of ‘fear’ in its different guises has arisen. This fear has led to them stuck in jobs and career paths that provide little satisfaction beyond the regular pay cheque.
According to my experience, the sources of the problem can be from fear of:
- the unknown
- what others will think or acceptance
- loss of status
- loss of income
- wasted education
- being a fake
And the list goes on……….
Another area of ‘fear’ in the career context is other’s ‘projecting’ their ‘fear’ onto those who looking to;
- Take a career break
- Change careers
- Engage in further study
- Start their own business
- Create a portfolio career
Take a moment to reflect, as you may have experienced this yourself or un-intentionally done this to others.
It is not uncommon for people looking to make career changes, to find those around them (friends, family, colleagues) less supportive than they would have imagined about their career choices. There are certainly many reasons why others do this, however, their comments are more often than not based around their own ‘fears’ which they project onto or transfer to the person looking to make changes.
For example, a son who is taking a career break from his engineering career may find his parents ‘acting’ supportive in some ways, while they also make unsettling comments around the length of time he has been unemployed and the impact it will have on him ever securing another ‘good’ job. He may also find his friends and colleagues questioning his decision to take a career break for such an extended period of time and what this will do to his career prospects if you’re out of the industry for too long etc. The son, while initially feeling reasonably confident about his decision to take the career break, becomes increasingly unsure about this decision if he listens to other’s fears.
In this case, the parents fear is coming from a place of parental concern about their child. From a desire to protect them. Or, it may come from a fear of what others will say if their son has a lower status career or is unemployed for a lengthy stretch of time.
The comments from friends and colleagues are often coming from their own fears, which they are projecting. It could be their anxiety levels if they did not have secure employment or what others would think if they were not working. Or it could be a genuine concern for their friend’s / colleague’s welfare. They could also be coming from a place of jealousy, in that while they are not happy in their career, they don’t have the money or confidence to take a career break and potentially make a career transition too.
It is normal to have fears around making major changes in our work lives. What we don’t expect when we decide to make changes, is how much the comments of others who doubt and question us, make us question our decisions.
3 Steps to Managing Your Fears
- Explore fears (see the 2 activities below)
- Devise strategies to manage your fears
- Seek support to work through key fears
When making any changes in your work life be sure to spend some time reflecting and understanding your own fears or blockers as they are sometimes referred to.
Also, be mindful to monitor the comments of those around you from friends, family, and colleagues. Don’t take on board their ‘fears’, instead focus on strategies to overcome yours and even call out unhelpful comments and advice.
Homework – for those who dare to look their fears in the eye and move forward!
When it comes to fear holding you back from making a change, below are 4 questions to ask yourself? Grab a pen and paper or your computer and write down your responses.
- How much do you want to make this change in your work & life?
o Is it a burning desire or nice to do! If there is no drive then re-assess what you think you want.
- What are you willing to give up, to make it happen?
o No pain no gain, everything is a trade-off and sacrifices will need to be made.
- How uncomfortable are you willing to be in order to make this change?
o On a scale of 1-10, 10 being willing to walk on hot coals! You need this to be 5+!
- Who is going to support you and how do you need them to support you?
o Who is your support crew? Great things don’t happen alone! Find people who are true supporters.
The answers to these questions can help you create your strategy to look through the fear and focus on your long-term desires or vision.
Fear & Blockers Activity Sheet
We also have a free Diversitas Blockers Activity Sheet you can download in the resources area of the Diversitas site to help you identify your top fears (what are real and what are perceived) and put in place steps to manage them more effectively. You will be surprised by how helpful these activities will be to your confidence and overcoming and addressing key fears that are holding back your career and happiness at work.
If you find you need further support with identifying and managing your fears or Career & Executive Coaching support, please give us a call or email to discuss your situation and how we can help you in achieving your goals.
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” ― Nelson Mandela