Whenever you talk to people about their dreams, their goal in life is usually to succeed, whether that means to attain a better job, earn more money, buy a bigger house, purchase a nicer car and realize all the trappings that come with success.
Interestingly enough, in all my years of recruiting, I’ve noticed a pattern. While people say they want to succeed, when it comes to actually taking the job offer, an overwhelming sense of fear and paralysis takes over, which usually ends up with the person missing out on the opportunity altogether.
The person emphatically says that they truly want to take the new job and seize this amazing opportunity, but the thought of actually leaving their current position and starting anew is so terrifying that they end up doing something that ultimately ruins it for themselves.
It reminds me of when I first started to ski. I was excited to pick up the sport. I started going down steeper runs and, as I would pick up speed, I would purposely make myself fall. What I realized was that it was not the actual speed that would make me fall, but rather the fear of racing down the hills.
When I speak of a hesitance to pursue an opportunity, I am not referring to legitimate problems with the role, such as a lower-than-expected salary, a boss you feel slightly uncomfortable with and a lack of camaraderie among the employees. I’m referring to opportunities where everything falls neatly into place and it’s the perfect, natural next step. The money is better. The people are friendly. The manager would be a great mentor. The commute is convenient. The title is just what you were looking for. There is really nothing to punch holes in. Everything lines up with what the person wants.
After tense months of interviewing with over a dozen people, when the person finally gets the offer, they can’t seem to pull the trigger. It’s a challenge for the person and for everyone around because it is so blatantly clear that this is what the person wants and desires. However, the person just won’t allow themselves to overcome the perceived hurdles in their mind.
I would suggest that if you find yourself in this position—ruminating over an opportunity that would dramatically improve your life and is something you’ve been wanting to do, but you find yourself paralyzed—do some serious self-reflection. Ask yourself whether this is the job you want. Would these individuals be colleagues that you would like to work with? Will this career opportunity take you to the next level?
If the answer is affirmative, you have to take a second look to consider what is holding you back.
Why are you resistant to taking that leap forward? You have to be critical of yourself.
People are great at self deception. They will come up with excuses as to why they don’t do something, but the excuses they give are never actually the reason why.
Whenever someone has a big decision to make, it is extremely stressful. You’re going to be nervous, scared and intimidated. It’s easier to come up with an excuse and not accept the new opportunity than to deal with the fear and anxiety. But you know you’re deceiving yourself. Is there any legitimate reason why you shouldn’t do it? It is okay to recognize that you’re afraid. That’s fine. We live in a culture where it is deemed unacceptable to say you’re afraid. If you do feel anxiety, you don’t feel you have a safe space to talk about it. You need to embrace that doubt and understand that it is natural—whether you’re going after a million-dollar role or entry-level position.
While everyone is different, there are ways you can manage that stress and anxiety: taking deep breaths, going on long walks, blowing off steam at the gym or venting and talking it through with loved ones. Once you realize you want this job and that it is only your fear holding you back, have enough confidence in yourself to persevere. When you start, please note that it is going to be scary. But you’re going to thank yourself—in the long run—for having the courage to succeed.