9 Reasons Why Fear May Cost You Your Career – And How To Fix It

Have you ever asked yourself why you haven’t gotten promoted – again? Although you have been working like crazy and are always there when you are needed?

Since we all know that the world of work is not fair, the reason might lie elsewhere.

What matters most in the end is how we are perceived.

We tend to sell ourselves short when we are anxious – and fear gets in the way of having the career we could.

The greatest pitfall is to desperately want to fit in and avoid making mistakes at all cost instead of having our own roadmap in place and following our goals.

By trying to anticipate what is expected from us we gamble away the chance to show our true personality.

However, it is still possible to have a career if you are aware of the patterns that are sabotaging your progress.


Here are the Top 9 Reasons Why Fear May Cost You Your Career:


1) You Don’t Say What You Think

Do you remain silent in meetings, and don’t express what you think out of sheer concern you could say the wrong thing and embarrass yourself?

Don’t waste your talent behind closed office doors. You can do the best job in the world, but as long as you don’t show that it is you who has all these brilliant ideas, you risk being overlooked.

If you want to be noticed you have to give an opinion, even if your boss doesn’t agree with you.

The Fix:

Prepare yourself. Read the documents provided, get an opinion about the different aspects of the project and try to find arguments that confirm your standpoint. The more you are afraid, the better it is to grasp the project deeply and understand its main points.

Dare challenge the way “it is usually being done” and come up with new ideas. It’s not about being a superstar, but being taken seriously.

As long as you can explain your opinion you can keep an interesting discussion going and even convince others that your point of view is worth considering.


2) You Shy Away from Taking Over Responsibility

Your fear of embarrassment is bigger than your self-confidence. So you settle for the second tier and prefer being a simple team member.

You hide behind someone else who gets assigned as the head of the team although you know you could pull it off if yourself it weren’t for your fear of failing.

Instead, you end up striving to please the project leader and stress yourself out to spare her/him and yourself trouble.

In the end, it’s you who does all the work, but you are not the one to take credit.

The Fix:

You don’t have to ask for the large projects immediately, but take over responsibility for something.

If you want to progress, you have to make yourself visible, so take over the lead for smaller tasks at first and grab your chance to shine.

Go for projects that are less intimidating and work your way up.


3) You are the Busy Bee 

Don’t let your fear lead you to mistake hard work for having to show everyone how busy you are and how many projects you can juggle at once without breaking down.

Your boss will appreciate you for being the one staying late and finishing the jobs others don’t want to do.

However, if you never dare say “No”, you will not make it on top of the list when it comes to promoting people because you have proven yourself to be valuable as the busy bee only.

The Fix:

Ask yourself why you took on this job in the first place. Right now you might be so occupied that you are just ticking off jobs from your to-do-list instead of going for the ones that could help you push your career.

You have to set boundaries – and for that – you have to redefine your goals.

It is smart to help out when it is urgent, but make yourself scarce when it’s not necessary and concentrate on the important tasks.

Otherwise, you will be considered commodity and not management material.


4) You Don’t Ask for What You Deserve

You assume that, at some point, your boss will notice your commitment, and reward you for it.

So you don’t dare to ask for what you deserve because you think you are not entitled to be demanding.

It might happen, but, unfortunately, this world is not just. It’s the ones who don’t keep quiet, but advertise themselves who get promoted – and not the ones who patiently wait for their turn.

The Fix:

Talk about your work on neutral ground where you don’t feel pressured to outshine your colleagues sitting next to you.

Schedule regular meetings with your boss to discuss your performance and next career steps.

Always keep a journal in which you note down your projects, your responsibilities and your achievements. This will give you a lot of material to present yourself accordingly as well as reasons to convince your boss to consider you for promotion or a pay rise.


5) You Don’t Take Credit for Your Work

Most companies look for people who can integrate into a team. Still, being part of a team does not mean that you cannot be your own personality and take credit for playing your part.

When you are afraid that your colleagues are not going to like you anymore, you probably always report from a “we” perspective even if the effort was all yours only.

By doing this, you miss your chance to make yourself known for what you are capable of.

The Fix:

Your work is valuable and deserves appreciation. So dare take the credit for it. Your team members are likely to take over if you don’t.

Learn to use a simple but effective formula: “Me, myself and I”.

Practice to talk about your work in the first person perspective. Talk to yourself loudly about your achievements at home.

You are likely to feel resistance at first, but you have to get over it. The moment you have to report to your boss, you only have one chance. Grab it.


6) You Want to Be Loved by Everyone

The business microcosm has its own rules depending on the company you are working for. Some companies are more on the conservative side whereas others are more easy-going.

However, don’t let yourself be tricked into becoming the company sweetheart and trying to please everyone.

Being chummy and becoming friends with everyone does not help if you want to be taken seriously and strive to get ahead. Also, be aware of others roping you into their projects.

The Fix:

We are talking about corporate environment and not a beauty pageant, so leave your need for love at home. It’s about professional behaviour; that’s why you have to learn to set boundaries.

Rule of thumb: If you feel used or are overly nice because you are afraid of the consequences, save it.

It’s better to be known as a straight-forward person than as the friendly agony aunt or funny fellow.


7) You Stay by Yourself All the Time

You like your work, but are afraid of the interactions with other people, hence you prefer to spend lunch break at your desk and to leave the office as soon as your work is done – despite the invitation for after-work drinks.

Yes, it’s work, but it’s also a social environment that requires you to be approachable if you want more out of your job than just a pay-check.

If you don’t want to be labelled the weird guy, you have to mingle with others and establish professional relationships.

The Fix:

You don’t have to join every office party and spend every lunch break with your colleagues. Try to fit in some appointments a few times a week to set up a valuable network.

By this, you also get vital information and can draw attention to your talents. Practice simple small-talk – and you can always talk about work, at least this is the main thing you have in common.


8) You Mistake Colleagues for Friends

It’s good to have a nice working relationships with your colleagues, and some might also turn into real friends.

However, don’t mix up office talk with friendship talk and open up about all your troubles at home or the problems you are dealing with at the moment. It will come back to bite you later.

We are all humans, and people love to gossip. Especially at work.

The Fix: 

Protect yourself. Don’t look for friends but for allies;  people who respect and support you professionally and are easy to be around.

If you want to talk about personal topics, look for someone to confide in within your private social circle. In the end, when it comes to money and fame, it’s quite often every man for himself.


9) You Shy Away from Trouble

You are not the only person who prefers to get along with people rather than being caught up in territorial fights.

However, the workplace is a microcosm that comes with all the different characters of people and their very own personality traits, goals and ambitions.

It’s natural that once in a while you will be butting heads – and you better be prepared to stand up for yourself.

The Fix:

Some people will try to undermine your position or take credit for your achievements.

Draw your personal line in the sand and dare confront others if they cross it. Just because you are a nice person does not mean that you are going to accept being played and outmanoeuvred.

A job is not a one-way street. Keep in mind that you are offering your talents in exchange for a salary, and you want to be acknowledged for it. So don’t get caught in the obedience trap out of sheer gratefulness.


You don’t have to pretend to be someone else and start bossing people around, however, try to adopt a healthy self-confidence when it comes to your knowledge and talents.

The more you are aware of who you are and what your worth is, the more you can believe in yourself and will come across as the competent person you are.

(Image Credit: Renars Jurkovskis/Shutterstock)


How about you? Do you let fear sabotage your career and how do you handle it?


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