It’s a cold, cruel world out there – downright scary, even. It’s completely natural to be fearful as you look for work, but it’s how you deal with fear that counts. Here are 10 steps to overcome your fears and get back to work in a job you love.
Fear holds you back. It keeps you from being as good as you could be. It prevents you from achieving what you really want.
As a result, most job seekers are afraid to take risks. They are afraid to go after the job they really want. They are afraid to step outside the box and do things that will set them apart from other job seekers.
These 10 steps will not only help you conquer fear, but also find a job that challenges you, excites you, and gives you satisfaction of a job well done.
1. Know what you really want – or how else will you know when you find it? Figure out your strengths. Visualize the future you in your mind. See yourself in the job you want. Don’t let anyone else make your important life decisions for you.
2. Be open to change. Change is scary, but if you avoid it, you’re missing out on personal growth and thousands – perhaps hundreds of thousands – of dollars in potential lifetime income. Don’t let fear stop you from taking that next big leap, whether it’s changing careers, earning a degree, relocating, or going for a position with more responsibility. Be bold and try new things, and you’ll open yourself to many exciting opportunities.
3. Do research. The more you know, the less you will fear. Remove the unknowns by reading, investigating, asking questions, thinking, etc.
4. Have a plan of attack. Ask yourself, “How will I handle this?” Map out what you want to accomplish, and then make a backup plan just in case. Set realistic goals for yourself. Break fearful tasks down into small, manageable pieces. Don’t expect too much, too fast, or you will set yourself up for disappointment.
5. Understand your fear. Figure out what exactly you are afraid of: Rejection? Embarrassment? Losing money? Not knowing where to go? Failure? Being too old? Meeting new people? Identifying what you are fearful of will make it less scary and easier to tackle, which leads to tip #6:
6. Face your fear. Do it and do it right away. Usually the solution is fairly obvious. Stressed about being unprepared for the job interview? Practice in front of a mirror or friend. Worried about a flawed resume? Read our many articles on polishing up your resume and proofread for errors. Not sure what to do next? Spice up your job search. The longer you wait, the harder your fear will be to face.
7. Make a “worst-case scenario.” Be realistic: What is the worst thing that could happen if you fail? Chances are, the worst-case scenario isn’t all that bad. The employer isn’t going to kill you if the job interview goes bad. Keep the worst in mind; just don’t let it overwhelm you.
8. Keep busy. Fear thrives on inactivity. When you lie around, your mind goes wild. Volunteer, exercise, or pick a hobby. It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as you do something you feel good about.
9. Ask for help. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help. People want to help. Reach out to your network. Seek career counseling. Find family, friends or other job seekers you can confide in. Share your fears, and ask how they handled theirs. Ask for support and suggestions.
10. Relax. If you feel stress building up, take five slow, deep breaths. Take some time for yourself. Look outward. Get the focus off yourself and take a step back. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in a situation that we lose perspective on the big picture. Taking a fresh look will often make things appear much less threatening. Loosen up and laugh off your mistakes. Having a positive attitude will get you farther than trying to be perfect.
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” President Roosevelt’s famous quote delivered during the Great Depression of the 1930s still applies today. Follow these steps to rise above and conquer your fears, and you will be well on your way to confidently moving forward in your job search.