You might feel it in the pit of your stomach, in the increase of your pulse, or in a flash of heat. This feeling is called fear; a distressing emotion of dread or apprehension. Many of us experience fear throughout our lifetime, and our professional career is no exception.
Change, big decisions, stress, and unfamiliarity are all triggers of fear and self-doubt. As young professionals deciding what direction to take our life, it is easy to encounter situations where these emotions occur. In fact, reflecting on this past year, I have found that I feared/am fearful of many things: not finding work, not progressing in my field, not living out my dream, not being successful…just to name a few.
Fear is a powerful emotion and if you let it, it can hold you back. So I want to take this time to go over what fear is and how you can use it to your advantage in your personal and professional life.
In order to do this lets look at the types of fears.
- External – fears caused by something outside of you
- Internal – fears caused by external events, however they “are not specific to any circumstance and are due to internal emotions.” For example, fear of failure.
- Subconscious – “fears that develop into limiting beliefs”, these fears filter how you see yourself and the world.
All of these types of fear can be experienced in the workplace, however the fears that are of the most concern are internal and subconscious. They are the type of fears that are a part of our mental mindset. But mindset is all they are. Oprah Winfrey once said, “Whatever you fear most has no power— it is your fear that has the power.” So whatever your fear is know you have the power to overcome and change it. Here are a few things I do to help myself overcome my fears and anxieties.
- Talk to a confidant. Some fears we don’t feel comfortable sharing, but some we can talk out. There have been many times I have spoken with a close friend and they have helped me minimize my fear.
- Make a plan. Start planning how you are going to overcome your fear or reach the goal you are fearful of not reaching. I find that if I do some research or logically think out how to accomplish what I’m scared of I feel more relaxed and in control.
- Don’t ignore your fear. (I am guilty of this.) If I am not ready to face something or am unsure of what to do I tend to put the dilemma in the back of my mind and ignore it (or at least attempt to). This can cause worry and even more stress so if you have a fear try to complete the “make a plan” part sooner rather than later.
From this post you might be inclined to think all fear is bad. However, we believe the contrary. Fear is a good instinct; it warns you when to be cautious and it causes you to slow down and question your actions. Facing your particular fears is a deeply personal decision, however, when you decided to do so, it’s also a decision that can be deeply gratifying. Rather than closing yourself off, allow yourself to become porous to the challenges you may find yourself timid of. Facing new environments/people/places will push you to be adaptable, allow you to gain experience, and will boost your confidence
Next time you have that knot forming in your stomach remember this quote from Dr. Henry Link, “We generate fears while we sit. We overcome them by action. Fear is natures way of warning us to get busy.”
What are some fears you encounter as a young professional? (Can be personal or in the workplace.) Is it public speaking? Networking? Transitioning to a new workplace? Check out some of Communication Minded’s previous post to get helpful tips on such areas.
– Caroline Robinson & Savannah Valade