I hate scary movies. I was a pre-teen I watched only the first few minutes of a Friday the 13th (I don’t remember which one) and I was looking behind doors and curtains for a week. I don’t like having the beeves scared out of me, not my idea of fun.
When I was a little girl I could curl up in a blanket with my favorite stuffed animal and wish fear away. When I was a teenager I could steal my sister’s cigarettes, hide out under the deck and brood fear away. When I was in my twenties I tried to bargain fear away. In my thirties I tried to avoid fear and hoped it would go away.
Today I just sigh and said, “Fine, let’s get this party started.”
Fear doesn’t go away because we make a deal with ourselves, ignore it or hope it somehow disappears – fear always finds you. Fear only goes away when we recognize that we created it and we are the ones that have to stand up to it and punch it in the nose.
We all face fear at some point in our life about different issues. A lot of my clients have fears that can touch on the fear of being unemployed, rejected, seen as incompetent or a failure. Sometimes it can be debilitating and devastating.
I also know that some may be thinking that it is very easy for me to be preaching from mount high because I do not know your situation so how can I possibly understand? Because fear is fear. The degrees may be different, the situation may be different but when it all comes down to it: fear is fear.
It is created by a trigger – something happened that caused us to shift our perception or way of thinking. This then grew into fear. Sometimes the fear has gotten so overwhelming that we have forgotten the root cause. It is like being stuck in a huge ball of tangled string and trying to find the tip of the string.
In job searching fear can cause you to stop searching, stop applying yourself and stop networking. It can grow and cause you to become deeper in your fear and that mangled mess until we feel that we cannot move in any direction.
My best suggestion – get a pair of scissors and start snipping away at the individual strings.
Sit down with a notebook, a cocktail of choice (be it a coffee or martini – whatever works for you) and an open mind.
Start with writing down what you are afraid of – plain and simple. Not getting a job, not doing well in the interview, not impressing the new boss, or simply just failure – whatever it is.
Then ask what else you are afraid of – this can lead to not being able to provide for your family, not getting a good job, not moving into the field you want, being demoted. Keep asking yourself what you are afraid of – write it all down.
It is not a fun list and it can suck to have to write it down, but being able to see it helps make it more real – it just isn’t in your head any more.
Then ask yourself: what happens if I fail, what is the worse that can happen?
If the answer does not include death – you’re ahead of the game.
Keep asking yourself what could happen if you do fail. Write it all down. Sometimes we make things much more irrational in our head and when we see it on paper we can look at it and ask ourselves, “Really? I don’t think I can single-handedly cause the fall of western civilization.”
Now here is the kick in the butt phase. Ask yourself what you are doing to prevent the worse case scenarios. Be honest. Writing down that you are sending out 50 resumes a week is not a solution. First of all if you are sending out the same resume to 50 different jobs then you do not qualify for any of them. Second of all simply sitting at home at the computer sending out resume after resume is not an action-oriented results-guaranteed game plan.
Take ownership and action.
What are you doing? Next ask yourself what are the results of your actions? You should begin to see a correlation forming.
So what is it going to take? Once you can write some action steps here comes another hard part – what are you afraid of in doing those actions? You know what to do but fear is holding you back. So what is the fear of performing those actions? And again, what is the worse case scenario for not doing them?
I’ve had a struggle this week and I’m not preaching from mount high – I did this. What I realized is by being afraid of taking steps I’m keeping myself within my struggle. Take that first small step. Yes, it can get worse, but odds are it will get better. Maybe just a little bit for a part of the day but it is a step.
Fear is like being in a bad relationship. Stick with me on this one.
Have you ever had a boss, co-worker or significant other that just never approved of what you did, no matter what? Always criticizing, complaining or making you feel like you couldn’t do anything right? At some point you reach a point and say, “You know what, I’m going to do what I want because you are going to hate it anyway.”
That small step starts to bring you more confidence and lessens their hold. Same thing with fear. That’s why I said I sigh and say bring it on. The fear will still be there even if I take steps forward so come on if you are going to be on this ride with me, might was well acknowledge it is there. I’m still going to move forward and the more I do the more I see fear start to fade.
Look at your fears in black and white and realize the hand that wrote them is the hand that is holding you back. What you want is within you as is the ability to achieve it. It may not be easy but it is there and faith in yourself can pack one heck of a punch and knock fear out cold.
Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.