Articles from TheCareerAdvisor
Fear Checklist Calms Job Hunting Nerves
If you're a job seeker, you may be anxious from time to time. It goes with the territory, and very few career books talk about fear. They explain the "how to's," forgetting that you can't do the how-to's if you're too intimidated even to begin. It's important to talk about fear and find ways to deal with it.

For years I taught job search classes, and these are some of the fears my students expressed. You may find that some of them apply to you. Take a moment to mark the ones that do. Then we'll discuss ways to calm the common job-search jitters.

  Common Job Hunting Fears  
  Admitting what you really want  
  The "cold cruel world"  
  Running out of time  
  Spending all your resources  
  Losing everything  
  Ending up in a nursing home  
  Dying in the poorhouse  
  Losing self esteem  
  What "others" think  
  Not being prepared  
  Being trapped in the same rut  
  Losing to the competition  
  Not knowing where to go  
  Wasting your talents  
  Ending up in a dead-end job  
  Making decisions  
  Knowing what you want  
  Running out of money  
  Not trying  
  Going from bad to worse  
  Getting too much responsibility  
  Being too old, or too young  
  Never making a choice  
  Not being able to "prove" you can do it  
  Meeting new people  
  Taking the wrong job  
  Not reaching your full potential  
  The unknown  
  Writing things down (concretizing)  
  Losing control  
  Being wrong  
  Looking foolish  
  The economy  
  Newt Gingrich  
  Authorities, managers, "executives"  
  Being eaten by the secretary in your attempt to talk to the boss  
  What the truth may look like  
  Being unwanted  
  Incompetence, falling on your face  
  Not having enough skills or intelligence  
  Being driven to suicide  
  Starving to death  
  Add the boxes you checked to see how you scored on this self-test? Most career changers mark several. With all these fears to combat, it's no wonder many people dislike job hunting.  
  A Fun and Challenging Job  
  How do most job-seekers handle being scared? Some take the first thing that comes along so they can stop their anxiety and uncertainty. And that's often a mistake, because they end up taking a step back in title, duties and responsibilities, or salary—or giving up some of their big plans and dreams.

I encourage you to define your dreams and go for what you really want. But realize that the flip side of having your dreams is living with some discomfort. There's a price to pay for having what you want. And that price involves handling your fears.

Everyone wants a "challenging job." And many times, job seekers think "a challenging job" means "a fun job." It may, or it may not. Sometimes challenging means "risky, scary, and insecure." To have a job that's soaring, not boring, may require living with, and defeating, some fear. One of the Presidents of a Coors technology company told me that if a new job doesn't scare him to death, he knows it's to small for him—that is, it's not challenging enough.

  What About Solutions?  
  So much for the problem. What about solutions? Here are 43 ways we brainstormed to overcome fear:
  1. Admit that you're afraid, itemize you fears. Pretending you aren't afraid can accelerate the fear into terror.

  2. Remember some of your past successes in complete detail. Write down (1) the challenge you faced, (2) what you did about it, and (3) the outcome.

  3. Get a mentor.

  4. Make a written plan. Then make a clear alternate plan.

  5. Make a "worst-case analysis." What happens if you fail? What would that be like? Can you afford to lose? What would you do next?

  6. Know yourself and your skills. Look at your strengths. Know the situations where you are at your best. Take a valid, reliable assessment like the Birkman Method® and complete these paper-and-pencil exercises.

  7. Pace yourself. Set realistic, low goals. Don't expect way too much, way too fast.

  8. Face what you fear. Do it and do it now. (The longer you wait the more scared you might be.)

  9. Meet often with successful people. Their success will rub off on you. Read success books, listen to success tapes. Motivate yourself with FranklinCovey!

  10. Listen to yourself. Don't let others decide what you "should" do.

  11. Keep busy. Fear thrives on inactivity. When you lie around, your mind goes wild. It hardly matters what you do as long as you do something you feel good about.

  12. Start saying "yes" to invitations, instead of "no."

  13. Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Don't let your entire future ride on one interview or one job opportunity, no matter how "perfect" it may seem.

  14. Your mind is your obedient servant. It will do anything you want. Ask it for a list of 10 positive things you can do right now to stop the fear. Write them down—and do them.

  15. Be willing to accept "No's" No doesn't mean "never." It may mean, "Not now, maybe later." It can also mean "You don't belong here. There's a better place for you elsewhere."

  16. Break fearful tasks down into small, manageable pieces. Do one small step at a time. Tony McDonald, a regional Sales Manager for KWAL-Howells Paint, gave this advice to his sales team: "Break big problems into small problems, and make the small problems go away." Very well said.

  17. Seek career counseling.

  18. Listen to your fear. Fear can be positive and helpful feedback. If you're too scared, STOP. Maybe you really are going in the wrong direction, attempting too much.

  19. Communicate. Share your feelings. Tell people your fears. Ask how they handled theirs. Ask for support and suggestions.

  20. Read the Bible or other motivational books. Review these inspirational quotes or motivate yourself with FranklinCovey!

  21. Take a class on stress management, time management, or self-esteem.

  22. Listen to "The Pachelbel Canon" or other comforting or uplifting music.

  23. Let go.

  24. Prepare a detailed budget (we all hate to do this). Itemize the money you have now and the amounts you will need soon. It usually looks much better in black and white than you ever expect.

  25. Continue to mix and meet people. Don't withdraw. Don't hide. Stay active.

  26. Do research. The more you know, the less you fear. Remove the unknowns: Read, investigate, ask questions, think.

  27. Write down lists of questions you want to ask future employers. Be sure you ask them.

  28. Do relaxation exercises. Meditate. Breathe! Clear purpose is the axis on which your world turns.

  29. Grill yourself before "they" do. Think of every conceivable question "they" could ask and rehearse your answers. Write them down.

  30. Role play problem interview situations. Act them out with a friend.

  31. Visualize the outcomes you want. Rehearse you future life in your mind. See your success. Read "Visualization: Directing the Movies of Your Mind" by Adelaide Bry, Barnes and Noble.

  32. If necessary, try short-term psychotherapy. Gestalt, NLP, Psychodrama, rational emotive therapy and many other popular therapies all deal with fear.

  33. Take in a movie, preferably a comedy.

  34. Laugh more often. Cry more often. Get angry.

  35. Ask supportive, helpful people for their ideas.

  36. Write down 50 ways you're going to benefit your next employer. Show them the list.

  37. Stop seeking so hard. Take time for yourself. Play. Lie in the sun.

  38. Say no to situations that aren't right for you.

  39. Develop an emotional support system. Meet weekly with other job-seekers. Share ideas. Help each other. Brain storm.

  40. Look outward. Get the focus off yourself. The world is full of hurt. The best way to stop your own fear is to reach out and help others who are hurting. Start working on this right now. Today.

  41. Read "Love Is Letting Go of Fear," by Jerry Jampolsky, Celestial Arts.

  42. E-mail this article to three other job-hunters or career changers.

  43. Most important of all: Understand that the universe is incomplete without you (that's why you're here). Because of your life-experience you have skills, ideas, and feelings to contribute that no one else can ever match. Why let fear stop you from having your brightest dreams?

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