Are you afraid of your fears?

Do any of these sound familiar to you?

“What if no one wants what I have to offer? Maybe I should apply for these other jobs, just in case.”

“What if I’m just not enough?”

“What if this is a horrible mistake?”

Or perhaps…

“They say I should just be grateful I have a job, any job. I shouldn’t rock the boat by looking for something else.”

“They say you can’t change careers at my age. I’m too far along this path, and it’s too late for this kind of risk.”

“They say there aren’t any jobs out there. It’s hopeless.”

Even as I write these I can feel the energy and hope draining from my body, from my being. Each word gets harder to type. How do they make you feel?

Cassie and I had been working together for several weeks. She unearthed her strengths and skills, and was clear and confident about what she offered the right employer. She imagined a clear picture of the job she wants next, what she would love to do and be great at, and the kind of environment where she would thrive. As she began to move into the create stage, to create job search strategy and put the plan into action, her doubts and fears began to surface once again.

Cassie and I both took a deep breath. And then another one. And one more for good measure. Then we began to reassess the facts first. I asked Cassie, “How long have you had this clarity of focus for your job search, this confidence in what you offer and what you want?” Cassie replied, “Well, only a few weeks really. Not that long.” Then I asked her, “How many jobs have you applied for since you’ve had this new focus?” Pause. “Well, none yet. I’m still crafting my job search materials, like my resume and such.”

Then we began to look at her fears more closely, taking them one at a time. Taking a cue from Byron Katie’s ”The Work” (see www.thework .com), we started by asking “Is it true?”

“Is it true no one wants what you have to offer?” Cassie thought for a moment, then replied, “I don’t know yet. I haven’t even tried looking. But odds are someone wants what I offer. I know that what I offer is valuable, and employers have valued it before.” Then I asked Cassie what she can do to find out for sure? Her answer was to apply for jobs, as she’d planned.

Next question, “Are you really not enough?” Cassie responded that for her, this question is the same as the one about what she has to offer. So her answer is the same. She is enough, she offers enough. And she needs to apply for jobs to find out more.

The third question is trickier, “What if this is a horrible mistake?” For Cassie, the horrible mistake was trying to look for a job she loved. So I asked her if that was true. Cassie replied that she is seeking work she loves, that she is also very capable of. She also knows from personal experience that people who love what they do at work are much more fun to be around than those who aren’t. And she wants to be one of those. She concluded, this is not a horrible mistake. It might in fact be the smartest thing she’s done.

So far, Cassie has taken her fears out of the mix, one by one. For the last three fears, I started by asking her, “Who is they?” She said coworkers at her current job. Then I asked if these are people she trusts to advise her? Does she believe them? Does she listen to them? To my surprise, she said in a loud clear voice, “NO! Absolutely not!” We were both so startled that we laughed out loud. Cassie realized she was taking direction from “them”, the voices that she doesn’t want to listen to, doesn’t agree with, doesn’t trust and respect on this subject. And that was not what she wants to do. And at this point, she would not be doing any longer.

At this point, Cassie no longer felt drained, but empowered. And did I. She felt ready to move forward in aggressive pursuit of her new career path. She felt confident and strong, and able to address her fears as they surfaced.

There are several questions Cassie and I asked to work through her fears, one by one.

1) Is it true? If so, what actions do I need to take to address it?

2) Do I need more information? How can I get more information?

3) If it’s a “they say” fear, who are they? Do I trust them? If so, are they right this time? (going back to #1)

4) What actions do I need to take right now?

Are you letting your fears stop you from moving forward in your career? In your life? I encourage you to ask these questions, and turn your fear into actionable information.

How do you tackle your fears? Please share your favorite fear tackling strategies or techniques on my blog below.


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