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how to overcome career fears

5 Career Fears That Hold Us Back

To be successful you’re going to have to take some risks, whether it’s applying for a job, asking for a pay-rise or promotion, studying to enhance your professional development or even making decisions about what’s important in your life. Fear can be debilitating and it’s not uncommon for fear of failure and fear of success to get in the way. So, what are the most common career fears? We spoke Kris Reynolds, Managing Director at Let’s Talk Career, a career counselling service, for advice on how to identify and overcome fears.

1. Fear of Failure

What if I don’t succeed? I will look a fool, and everyone will know I failed and I will be outed as the loser I am. I will have wasted my time trying!


Think about what life is like if nothing changes for you.

2. Fear of Success

What if it goes well and things change for me? Things I don’t know and understand. What if I don’t like that change? What if I succeed and I don’t deserve to? What if I succeed and am happy?


Understand how you can wind back success if it becomes a negative for you.

3. Fear of What Others Think

What if I am found out? What if people think less of me? What if people don’t like me or what I do?


Stop being a people pleaser and doubting yourself; this is about self-acceptance.

4. Fear of Taking on Too Much

My work-life balance will be disrupted. What if I start a course or new job and it takes over my life? I value my (add own values here) and what if this new thing takes away what I love in my life? What if it takes over?


You control your life, you can always moderate the change by doing part time study; taking a sabbatical etc; or asking to go back to your old role; nothing has to be forever. Makes sure you are wanting the change for the right reasons.

5. Fear of the Unknown

What will change look like for me? I don’t like change. I’m unhappy where I am now, but at least I am safe.


Reflect on a time you felt this way in the past and how it worked out great; develop some self-confidence to trust that change can be a good thing.

How to Conquer Your Career Fears

Fear is an unpleasant emotion that plagues us all from time to time and is caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm. It’s powerful and if you don’t face fears they have a way of limiting your personal and professional life. Reynolds suggests the following strategies for tackling your fears head on.

Recognise the Fear.

Our brains our wired to be negative and to be fearful which served us well for our primitive survival (being hunted by the lion etc) but not so well for adjusting to change in today’s fast paced world.

Understand the Fear.

Think through what each fear is, understand it – is it real? What is the worst-case scenario? Can it be undone if you are unhappy? In most instances it isn’t as bad as our minds make up! Write a list of what you fear; write what will happen, the likelihood it will happen and how you might be able to minimise the risk.

Write About the Fear.

If you struggle to articulate your fear, journal for five minutes without stopping; start with “What I fear is …?” Don’t stop until the five-minute timer rings. Keep the pen moving without stopping and write whatever is in your head uncensored. Read through your notes and see if you gain any insight. This is an incredibly powerful exercise because your subconscious thoughts come out.

Be Inspired by Others.

Inspire yourself by reading about others who achieved what you want to achieve. Read how they saw and conquered their own fears. How they fell and got back up again. How it made them stronger and more successful in the long run.

Talk to a Career Coach.

If you continue to have fears that create obstacles in your professional life, it might be a good idea to consult with a professional. Career counsellors and coaches are trained to identity and help people move away from fear and towards a more positive and confident mindset.

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Face your fears and invest in yourself to achieve career goals. Consider a professional development course with Australian Online Courses to become the best you possible or to find your new direction. Simply visit us online or contact one of our friendly Learning Consultants today on 1300 762 221.