While you may have everything going for you in your professional life, fear can be the one chink in your armour that means failure rather than success.

Career fear

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Of course, fear isn’t always a bad thing. It’s that which keeps us on our toes in many situations that require us to be really switched on. So when do you know your fear has become counterproductive? What can you do about it?

What are you scared of?

Perhaps the most common career fear is a fear of failure. Most of us experience this at various points in our lives, it’s pretty normal, – after all, we generally prefer to succeed in life than fail. However, a fear of failure has the potential to become so crippling that progress in your career is stunted. It can be easy to become bedded into your comfort zone, making the prospect of stepping outside it a frightening one. Giving into this fear will mean you pass up opportunities that could take you further in your professional life.

So how do you deal with a fear of failure?

Don’t be afraid to make a mistake

A great habit to get into is to embrace your mistakes. Get into the right mindset about them – they happen, everyone makes them from time to time, you are not infallible and no one expects you to be, not even your boss. However, when mistakes happen, own them – fix the problem, learn from it and move on. You’ll soon find that they aren’t nearly as frightening as you thought. Some of the greatest successes have been borne out of huge mistakes. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be careful, especially in sensitive tasks, but don’t let the fear of making a mistake preoccupy you.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

The prospect of asking for help makes many people feel that they’re presenting themselves as incompetent. Asking for help does not mean you’re incapable of doing your job. It does not mean you’re a weak link in the company. It simply means you could do with a hand.

Think about many people have come to you during your working life and asked for help with something. Did you immediately see them as incompetent? No. They were just asking for some help from a valued colleague and it probably made you feel pretty good about yourself. Asking for help and providing help is a very positive exchange in the workplace. You work as part of a team when you belong to a company, so take advantage of that fact – help others when they need it and lean back on them when you could do with some help yourself.

Don’t be afraid to say no

A pretty surefire way to risk coming unstuck at work and making a lot of your fears become reality is to bite off more than you can chew. Sometimes, this means you need to decline to do work that someone has asked you to. This can be difficult when someone of seniority is the one with the request. They’re important, so you may feel obliged to say yes, but what if you genuinely have no time to do the extra work they’re asking of you? This may be a time you need to say no, but make sure to do it the right way. Don’t give an outright ‘no’. Explain your position – tell them why you’d struggle to get it done. You might not get out of it completely, but maybe the deadline can stretch or someone else can take on some of it as well as you. If you level with whoever is asking, there won’t be any bad feeling about having declined, so don’t be afraid to do just that.

Career fear can be a huge obstacle to progressing professionally, so take control of it and don’t let it hold you back.

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