How to Overcome Fear of Career Success

How to Overcome Fear of Career Success

Here, we are going to talk about one of the biggest factors that hinders our path to career success.

That is not knowing how to overcome fear.

It is normal for us to experience fear because it is part of our survival “fight or flight” defense mechanism.

However, many of us are stuck and do not know how to step up and overcome these fears, especially in the work environment.

If you’ve been feeling like a failure, perhaps you’re ignoring the fears that are causing the setbacks.

According to Jon Michail, CEO of Image Group International, an Australian-based corporate and personal branding advisory organization, common fears can hold you back when it comes to achieving a promotion, pay-rise or career change.

1. Fear of Self Image and Not Looking Good Enough

Many people worry that someone “better looking” will be given the job, but the opposite is often true.

Candidates face discrimination because they are “too attractive” for their own good.

Jealousy is a factor, but there are also old stereotypes that feed an interviewer’s unconscious bias: the old “brains versus beauty” stereotype.

It may not be fair, but it saves time to neatly pigeon-hole people, instead of getting to know them better: especially in the digital age!


Women are generally more likely to worry about personal appearance.

You don’t have to be perfect but strive to be at your best to maximize your chances of success.

Men can be too relaxed, and this can lead to sloppiness. Remember, first impressions last.

Whether this is agreeable or otherwise, your personal image does impact how you’re perceived.

So, in order to move forward and overcome this barrier, do whatever you can to change. That may be a new wardrobe, hairstyle or way of communicating.

Investing in yourself really does have a long term positive return.

overcome fear


2. Worry About a Lack of Experience

When you look at “entry level” job descriptions, it’s easy to see why people lose confidence with most requesting two to five years of experience in a similar position.

No wonder young job seekers or career changers are afraid they’ll never get anywhere.


Don’t be afraid: offer to work as an intern to get initial experience.

Internships can lead to paid employment and even if they don’t, the experience will pay dividends.

Be creative: search for a way into the career of your dreams even if it means working for a small company or working in a position that only has elements of your “dream” career. You’ll make important new connections.

3. Fear of Fumbling Interview Questions

I’m yet to meet a person who likes job interviews; they’re often forced, unnatural situations that uncover weaknesses instead of showing strengths.

This means the applicant must make the best of a bad situation and make a positive impression. Unfortunately, this only increases the pressure, making mental blanks and fumbled responses more likely.


Don’t worry: authenticity is key. If you’re nervous, admit it; one fumble does not determine your identity.

People are forgiving to honest people; remember, your interviewer is human too.

You may even be able to turn a tongue-tied response into a joke and show your humor.

overcome fear

4. Fear of Leaving a “Safe” Job

Fear of the unknown can keep people in a job that makes them unhappy for far too long.

It may be a job with a terrible commute, a toxic workplace culture or have no room for advancement, but their survival instinct tells them to play it safe and stay.

This fear is also driven by fear of not finding another job quickly and loss of income.


Unless the job is killing your spirit (in which case, run) you should prepare for resignation.

Operate with your head, not your heart and think about your skill-set.

Should you upskill by enhancing your personal brand or pursue further studies to move up the ladder?

A proactive approach will build your confidence and encourage you to take steps towards a new direction.

A prospective employer will value an applicant who has spent time acquiring new knowledge and skills; and when you shed your protective shell, all the hard work will be worth it.

5. Fear of Colleagues’ Resentment

When you seek advancement within your current company, in the form of promotion, you may have concerns about how you’ll be treated by your colleagues.

There may be fear about how current team members will react: will they be resentful or not take direction from you?


At the end of the day, only you know your colleagues and workplace culture. Be smart: people play politics.

Decide whether workplace jealousy can be overcome with tact and authentic leadership, or whether it’s symptomatic of a toxic workplace culture.

Could you be better off elsewhere?

overcome fear

photo credit Hannah Nelson, photographer

Real-Life Career Fear: State Manager to Dating Coach!

Chris Manak was training to be a state manager for a brokerage firm when he decided to throw in the towel and risk it all to turn a hobby into a full-time career.

He says that to make this bold move, he had to overcome the crippling fear of leaving a safe job to start his own business as a dating coach.

“My passion was coaching men to be more confident at dating.

But I was afraid I’d be walking away from a good career to do my hobby full-time and that it wouldn’t work out.

One day I realized there would never be a perfect time, and I would never totally feel comfortable with it, and that I had enough saved in the bank to get me through a couple of months if things didn’t work out. So, I quit immediately!”

Manak says he wishes he hadn’t let the fear hold him back for so long, as it’s the best thing he’s ever done.

He now runs a full-time coaching business that’s going into its tenth successful year.

Start Small to Overcome Fear

So if you are struggling to come out of your shell and shine within your workplace then a good thing to do is to start small.

Start working on yourself daily. This could be very simple things like walking barefoot in the park and literally grounding yourself.

As days pass you can gradually increase your speed and look for more ways to improve on yourself.

Many successful people will tell you that knowing yourself and accepting both your flaws and awesomeness is the secret to becoming successful.

‘know thy self’ – Temple of Delphi

There are also plenty of available options for you to acquire further coaching and training online or offline, in any areas of your life.

Your inner work does reflect your outer environment, meaning the more you work at improving yourself and seeking help to overcome your fears, you will naturally find less need to stick around people and environments that are no longer ideal for you.

It will become a stepping stone into the next phase of your life.

This article is contributed by Haley Williams and co-written and edited by Julie J.

Learn the art of public speaking by overcoming fear of success in the workplace or even in your personal life.

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Haley Williams is a Content Writer at Australian Online Courses. She is also an experienced freelance journalist specialising in writing magazine features on topics covering women, children, parenting, health, fitness, and nutrition. She writes for Madison, Good Health, Practical Parenting, My Child, and Oxygen magazines and has worked for News Limited and APN News & Media. Haley has a Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) and is a member of the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance.


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