All this talk about witches, ghosts, and ghouls has us getting into the spooky seasonal spirit. We don’t mean trick or treating in costumes (let’s all pretend we’re "too old for that”…) We’re talking about fear. Fear can finagle its way into many realms of our lives. Here we explore fear in the context of career-driven change and growth.
Fear comes knocking on our doors at any number of points throughout our professional or educational pathways - and it’s not asking for candy. Fear is often accompanied with a few of its good friends like self-judgment, unhealthy skepticism, and in many cases, anxiety. Initial indicators include fear-induced questions that may pop into mind when we embark on a job search, go for an interview, change a college major, or even take an overall 180 degree career trajectory pivot.
“What if this isn’t the right job for me?”
“What if I can’t meet the expectations?”
“Is it okay for me to try something completely different and out-of-the-box?”
“Am I good enough?"
“Will I fail?”
“Should I even try?"
It’s safe to assume that each of the above questions are strongly linked to the fear of change. By nature, change is a gateway to the unknown. Like many things that are multidimensional with polarizing sides, fear can often be a misunderstood little guest at our doors. The key is to shift perspective on how fear serves you.
Here are 3 Steps to Conquer Fear of the Unknown:
1. Acknowledge and Accept | The more you try to deny it, the harder fear will come knocking. Acknowledging fear doesn’t mean intoxicating the mind with negative thoughts or all possibilities of what could go wrong when you make a change. In fact, it has an opposite approach where you detoxify the mind by listing out all the things you are afraid of. This aids in visually perceiving the information in a tangible way, that sets the primary, honest foundation for the following step.
2. Process and Plan | After laying out all the fears (rational or irrational) out in the open for you to see, the next step requires making calls to action. Understanding the root causes of things listed in Step 1 helps you develop a long-term sustainable plan to overcome the fears associated with the change(s) you’re planning to make. Begin thinking about support systems you’ll put into place, resources you’ll leverage, and the positive shift in mindset before proceeding to Step 3.
3. Demolish and Rebuild | As the architect of your new professional endeavor, you use your two blueprints to demolish and rebuild. Take a look at what is no longer working, and why exactly this desire to explore the unknown came about. What inspired the will to change? What are you willing to give up to make it happen? This is the most rewarding step, not because the fear has necessarily vanished, but you’ve learned to work with the fear in a positive way.
Fear can serve as an energizing force, a motivator for resistance, and a catalyst for change. So what are you afraid of? Make your next mindful move to acquire the career path you truly desire. If this resonates with you, share your story and views below!
About the Author: Neha Sharma (HCC'15, Northeastern University '15) is a health care professional in public policy, Medicaid reform, and actively advocate for co-integration of primary care and behavioral health. Aside from her traditional health care career pathway, Neha is a certified yoga & meditation coach with vested interest in bringing mindfulness practices to health care professionals and patients.