Battling Career Fear: How to Conquer Despair, Doubt, and Defeat
Let’s just go ahead and say it: there’s nothing quite like a global pandemic to strike fear in the hearts of even the most secure female career professional.
Whether you’ve just graduated from college, you’re steadily seeking more challenges and responsibilities, or you’re striking out into your own business, systemic uncertainty creates the same conditions for despair, doubt, and defeat for all of us. Add to that the fact that we’re seeing recession-proof industries crumble, sudden and indefinite furloughs, and record numbers of people seeking unemployment, and it’s enough to make any woman want to huddle back under the covers until everything sorts itself out.
I see this dynamic every day in our clients who are seeking more clarity in their careers. It seems like we’re all at a crossroads: do I attempt to be proactive and take advantage of this time or should I simply wait until the dust settles and a new normal emerges before making any decisions? And how does one previously secure boss-lady handle the inevitable fear that comes with uncertainty? Or better yet, if you’ve never had absolutely clarity in your career path, what’s a girl to do about that now that opportunities seem harder to find?
We have a motto in our office, today: She with the most clarity wins.
In times of pervasive uncertainty, the only voice that rises above the noise is the most clear and confident one. She who knows her professional niche and can powerfully articulate her value will separate herself from the pack. So here are my three favorite tactics for eliminating uncertainty and putting yourself back in the driver’s seat, regardless of the circumstances or your career fear.
Know your reason for being.
The Japanese have this incredible concept called Ikigai. It roughly translates to “iki” meaning “to live” and “gai” meaning “reason.” A person’s ikigai consists of four specific traits:
- That which you love
- That which you’re good at
- That which the world needs
- That which you can get paid for
That’s it. The magical professional sweet spot is the intersection of all four qualities. The first key to having more clarity, confidence, and certainty to battle your fear is to know these four components and know where and how they fit together.
Take some time later today and brainstorm answers to these four questions. It’s highly likely that your fear could be coming from one of these components that happens to be missing. For instance, if you’re good at what you do, the world needs it, and you’re getting paid, but you don’t love it, you’re going to experience a sense of comfort, but also emptiness. Where in your current career can you add one of these vital missing pieces?
Create a motivation bank
If you think of your Ikigai as the end-goal or the “light” at the end of the proverbial career tunnel, then you’re still going to need a flashlight to navigate on the way there. What else besides that ultimate goal is going to keep you going when times get tough?
This is where your personal, professional motivation bank becomes key. Navigating uncertainty will never be “easy” but identifying your deeper purpose, intention, and motivation will give you the stamina you need to avoid the temptation to give up. Knowing these core components of your internal motivation will give you more incentive to continue on this vital journey than any salary or benefit or title ever could.
Sit down and ask yourself a few introspective questions to build up your bank.
- What matters the most to you?
- Who are you setting an example for?
- Why is finding work you love so important to you?
- What keeps you going?
Then write down the answers and save them for a rainy day.
Slay your inner dragon
Author Marianne Williamson argues in her book A Return to Love that every choice in life is dictated by one of two things: love or fear. Love and fear function as the antitheses of one another, just like light and darkness. Just as darkness is really only the absence of light, fear is really only the absence of love.
So, what does love have to do with the motivation to pursue your ideal career? Well, if we keep the metaphor going, a mind that is wrapped up in love, abundance, joy, hope, and possibility simply won’t allow for fear, just as when a room is full of light, there is no space for darkness.
Is this a little woo-woo for a career? Maybe. But does it work? Absolutely! The only way I’ve found to consistently combat fear is to create a mindset that simply doesn’t have room for it. While we will never be able to remove our fear completely (darn biological tendencies!), we can create scenarios where we experience less of it. Fear doesn’t need to be in the driver’s seat—that’s where you’re supposed to be! Use gratitude for what you have, hope for a future of possibility, and the joy of being alive to put fear back in its rightful place.
With these three tactics, you will have more clarity, confidence, and certainty in your career. Bounce back better from this time of pervasive uncertainty and get back to being the boss-lady I know you can be.
This guest post was authored by Tracy Timm
Tracy is the founder of The Nth Degree® Career Academy, the proven career clarity system that helps high-potential professionals discover, define, and drive careers they love. She has a degree in behavioral psychology from Yale University and studied design thinking with the founder of the d.school at Stanford University. Tracy left a successful but unsatisfying career in finance, traveled once around the world on Semester at Sea, and discovered her ideal career. For more than five years, she has applied these lessons in her career advisory work with hundreds of individuals and over one hundred fast-growing companies. Tracy lives in Dallas, Texas.
Connect with Tracy Timm on Twitter @thetracytimm, Facebook @thetracytimm, Instagram @thetracytimm and @journeytoyourdreamjob, and LinkedIn. And visit tracytimm.com, nthdegree.tracytimm.com and unstoppablecareerbook.com to learn more.
Unstoppable: Discover Your True Value, Define Your Genius Zone, and Drive Your Dream Career is available September 29, 2020 on Amazon and other retail outlets.