Fear. It’s not just the feeling that strikes when you’re home alone watching scary movies and suddenly there’s a noise outside your window. It can happen in a much more mundane, brightly-lit place: your desk at work. In fact, the office can be a place where all of your self-doubts and worries compound into a big, career-blocking blob. But you’re not alone—millions of people have responded to polls and surveys about their concerns.
What are some of the most common work-related fears?
1. Losing the job
Whether you’re a rockstar at work or feel like you’ve been making too many mistakes, fear of losing your job has little to do with actual performance and more to do with your own personal need for stability.
2. Performance anxiety
Maybe your boss wasn’t as enthusiastic as she could have been after your last presentation. Maybe a new performance review process has you feeling uncertain about whether your year was really as productive as you wanted it to be. Any uncertainty or lack of positive feedback can feed this apprehension.
3. Not fitting in
Whether it’s middle school or the office break room, no one wants to be the uncool kid. We spend most of our waking hours with our coworkers, and universal social anxieties may show up. It can be tempting to try to play a certain character type in meetings or defer to others’ thoughts and ideas instead of your own.
4. Being left behind
With social media giving a new platform to everyday triumphs (“Guess who’s rocking it today?”), it can turn the workday into a competitive exercise. This plays into anxieties about stagnating in your job while the real stars move on to higher titles and bigger paydays.
What can we do to move past these?
The best way to conquer these fears (or at least tame them into submission before) is to acknowledge that they’re happening, name them, and be clear with yourself about the steps you’re taking to overcome them. That could mean communicating more openly with your colleagues or even just taking small steps forward on a project you’ve been avoiding because it seemed daunting.
Embrace the fears that are holding you back, and then step neatly around them on your career path.
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