WORDS summary leap

Don’t Let FEAR Hold Back Your Career!

Most common FEARS

Some recent experiences with new clients, all in different situations, have got me thinking again about how FEAR can hold you back from achieving success or key goals in your career and life. We all have fears, don’t we, as it is part of human nature? As a coach, the most common fears that impact on your personal career development tend to be:

  • FEAR of failure
  • FEAR of rejection
  • FEAR of change/ the unknown
  • FEAR of making the right choice/ decision
  • FEAR of success

10 Typical fearful statements

I hear many of these regularly from clients and I’m sure you have heard similar statements from friends, family, colleagues and maybe even yourself e.g:

  1. ‘How will I cope / what will I do if I lose my job?’
  2. ‘I don’t know how to sell myself and get so nervous in interviews’
  3. ‘I don’t think I will apply for the job/ promotion, as I am unlikely to get it’
  4. ‘I am too old to change career now’
  5. ‘I have only ever done one type of job / worked in one sector, so how can I do something different?’
  6. ‘What if I get too much work/ my business takes off too quickly?’
  7. ‘What if I make the wrong decision?’
  8. ‘What if my new job / career doesn’t work out?’
  9. ‘What if I don’t earn enough?’
  10. ‘What if I am not good enough?’

Perception V’s Reality

Consider these 10 typical statements and you will realise that most people’s fears are perception, rather than reality i.e. False Evidence Appearing RealIn most cases your fears are as a result of uncertainty and the unknown. There are always ways you can overcome your fears. For some people it is simply about providing evidence e.g. many of our clients are in their 50’s and 60’s and have made successful career changes, so you are never too old to change careers, are you? With the right mindset, right help and right positive actions, pretty much anything is possible. Therefore, don’t let fear hold back your career!

Turning FEAR into FOCUS

Look at the 10 fearful statements closely and you will notice they are closely linked to your mindset and beliefs. ‘You are what you think and feel‘ and the ‘what if’s’ are a great example, as they are all negative fears and mindset. So, how can you overcome these fears and turn them into positive focus? Reframing is the answer.


Reframing is an excellent term, as it explains exactly what is required. It is about changing your perspective (lens to the world) by working on your thoughts and beliefs (you may need the help of a Coach) and reframing them into positives.

A great example is the number 9: ‘What if I don’t earn enough?’

This is often a key FEAR of people looking to change careers or set up their own business. By reframing this FEAR it will become ‘What if I can earn enough? How good would that be? Once you know how much you need to earn as against how much you currently earn or perceive you want to earn, this can be very liberating. Therefore for every negative, there is a positive reframe!

Consider number 6: ‘What if I get too much work/ my business takes off too quickly?’ 

This is something many people are fearful of, myself included, when I set up my business and it can hold you back from even starting up in the first place. However, the reality is what a great problem to have! The hardest part for any new business is getting business, so if you have too much, you can always find good people, within your networks to help you and collaborations are key to business success for small business nowadays.

Many of these fearful statements are closely linked. A good example is a client who was fearful of interviews and had little or no belief they could get the job that they were aspiring to. This links to fearful statements 2&3.

Having coached them to realise the opportunity and got them excited about the job and then how best to prepare and tackle the interview, they got offered the job, which was a big step forward! They were then by their own admission paralysed by fears around numbers 7, 8 and 10!

When I challenged them as to what had provoked such fears and what evidence was there to suggest they wouldn’t be up to it, they told me that everyone they had spoken to had told them how good they are at their job and what a great opportunity it was so they should jump at it! This proved emphatically that such fears were perception and the biggest mistake would be not to take up the offer.

The irony was that having done brilliantly well to overcome their fear of rejection to secure the job, they then let their fears of failure, change/the unknown and making the right decision, cloud their judgement. Unfortunately the undue amount of time they spent paralysed by their perceptions and unnecessary fears meant the offer was withdrawn. They have since tried to rescue the situation but to no avail.

Don’t let FEAR hold back your career and rule your life!

If you have goals you wish to achieve in your career and life, don’t let them be sabotaged by negative fears and perception. If you are like me, you will feel that one of the biggest sins in life is not to fulfil your true potential. My mantra is You spend more waking hours at work than in any other activity. Life is too short so why be unhappy? Take the leap of faith and do what you love!”  Therefore, don’t let fear hold back your career! 

Steve Preston is known as The Career Catalyst ®. A leading Career Coach to executives and professionals, the Career Coach’s Coach, MD of specialist Consultancy SMP Solutions (Career & People Development) Ltdmotivational speaker and Internationally acclaimed Author of Career and Personal Development books and products, including Portfolio Careers – How to Work for Passion, Pleasure & Profit, Winning through Career Change and Winning Through Redundancy