5 Ways to Fight Your Fears and Nail that Next Assignment

It’s normal to feel a twinge of anxiety when accepting a new assignment or challenge.  You wonder if you will measure up or “How long before everyone figures out I don’t have a clue what I’m doing?”

Christian leadership coaching, leadership development, leadership skills, executive coaching

Transitions in the workplace can be personally and professionally fulfilling, but hard to manage. Switching roles and increasing responsibility means not only adjusting to new tasks, but to new relationships with those around you. Moving outside your comfort zone can soon feel overwhelming. In these situations, it is normal to experience some self-doubt, fear, and uncertainty.

But too much negative self-talk can start a downward spiral and reduce your chance of success. It can keep you feeling inadequate and unsure of yourself. Left unchallenged, your “inner critic” will reduce your self-esteem and stifle your professional development and advancement.

The inner critic can and must be countered. These 5 strategies can help you develop a positive inner voice and a resolve that will bolster your confidence:

1. Lower your standards.
Yes, that’s right. Stop trying to be perfect! You don’t need to know everything right when you start (or ever, really). High achievers have unsustainably high standards for everything they do. Set your new standard as “effective” rather than perfect. Perfection is unattainable so stop holding yourself hostage and celebrate the strengths you have. Relax and don’t demand so much of yourself.

2. Eliminate “all or nothing” thinking. What you may be telling yourself is, “If I don’t know everything, then I know nothing. If it’s not absolutely perfect, it’s completely worthless. If I’m not at the top of my game, then I’m totally incompetent.”

Stop being your own worst enemy. Without trying to change yourself, start to observe the situations where you judge, evaluate, and critique yourself. The more aware you become, the more your responses will shift on their own. And don’t waste energy ruminating on mistakes. When professional athletes don’t win the big game, they watch the playback tape, learn what they can do better next time, and get back into the game.

3. Find your strengths. Try to balance your negative thoughts with a greater number of positive ones. Keep a list of your ongoing accomplishments throughout the year. When you’re feeling unsure of yourself, use this list to remember all you have already achieved.

While achievements are great, keep in mind that your true value comes from within – separate and distinct from your performance or others’ opinions. Stay focused on the personal value that you bring to the table. If you don’t already know your strengths, I recommend using a self-assessment tool like the StrengthsFinder 2.0 or the the VIA Survey of Character Strengths (it’s free!) to identify your positive qualities. And celebrate them!

4. Take action. You will gain confidence by taking a step forward. Often you feel stress because you freeze in panic and wind up procrastinating. Leaving things for later only increases your feelings of incompetence. Deal with issues head on, and cross items off your to-do list. Taking the first steps will allow you to truly own what you are capable of doing well. You’ll discover a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that will ease the voice in your head saying you’re not good enough.

5. Get support. It’s ok to ask for help. Surround yourself with people that recognize your talents and can remind you when you forget. Typically there is no one harder on you than yourself, so you need friends and family to give you confidence, especially when you don’t feel like you deserve it.

When you feel like you’re barely keeping your head above the water, hang in there! The most exciting things in life happen just on the other side of your comfort zone. 

positive leadership, toxic leadership, leadership development, leadership styles, leadership skills

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One Comment

  1. John Pokrant says:

    Great insights! Thank you, Stefani. John

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