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How To Stop Worrying And Use Your Own Fear To Your Advantage

How To Stop Worrying And Use Your Own Fear To Your Advantage

Fear can be crippling. The fear of failure, rejection, or simply the unknown can render us paralyzed. Imprisoned in our own minds, we may end up boxing ourselves into a corner, feeling unfulfilled and frustrated. On the other hand, fear serves a purpose. From a survival standpoint, fear keeps us from doing things that might be harmful such as walking off the top of a 16-story building. Thanks, fear of heights. Fear can also be a great motivator: if we direct our energy in the right way, the fear of not achieving goals or falling short of a vision, can get us moving.

Here are a few truths about fear to help you utilize it, rather than let it control you.

1. Realize that most of your fears are irrational

Our minds sometimes ramble and project. We have a huge capacity for speculation, imagination, and wonder. This can be an asset as creativity is the wellspring of innovation. It can also get in the way when the things we imagine provoke fear. We can imagine the worst scenarios. The “what if” element can befuddle us into non-action.

Some minds tend to linger in the murkier side of “what if” more than others. At a certain point you simply have to realize that the things you’re obsessing over are pretty far-fetched, and let it go. Instead of succumbing to this dread in your mind, simply analyzing the things you’ve been afraid of in the past, which never materialized, can help you overcome your current fears. Once fear is recognized as unreal, the impediment is removed and you’re propelled forward.

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2. Understand that even your rational fears will probably never happen

Even if our fears are based in reality and qualify as somewhat rational, a lot of life is a battle in the mind more than anything else. Most of even the legitimate scenarios we dream up will never come to fruition. In fact, not even close.

For those of us who manage to psyche ourselves out with the possibilities in our future, let’s keep in mind that they’re just that: possibilities. Most embarrassment, disgrace, horrible modes of disease and death you ponder will not happen to you. Tragedies in life are usually unforeseen and unavoidable. So stop ruining your life worrying about it!

Coming to terms with this will not only help you relax in general, but it might even help you to take new chances. Without the feeling of impending doom, you’re free to experience life in a more vibrant way.

3. Accept that sometimes you will realize a genuine fear, but you’ll get through it

Bad things happen, even to the best, the most cautious, and the healthiest of us. But even when we realize a fear in one form or another, it’s more than likely not as bad as we thought. So you completely bombed on an interview, the guy you were seeing was still seeing his ex-girlfriend, or you’re a terrible executive assistant. Even though these things can be painful in the moment, anything short of death itself is literally not the end of the world.

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You’ll manage. You’ll get through. And in the long run, these nightmares-come-true really do lose their sting. Most of the time it’s never as bad as you feared, and when it is, it usually isn’t later on. You’ll surprise yourself with your veracity, even in the face of truly awful things.

4. Be aware that realizing fears can help refine you

It’s also these somewhat painful experiences that help us define what we don’t want. Maybe the energy of the office you were interviewing for doesn’t suit you; that weepy, artistic guy wasn’t all you envisioned him to be; or being someone’s own personal servant isn’t in the stars for you. There are worse things.

Take these experiences as a means of reflecting and saying “This didn’t work. That didn’t fit. So what else is there?” We are built to adapt. Embrace this strength, which is your innate gift from nature, and you will overcome even your worst fears.

5. Know that you’ll do fine at the things you’re putting off because you’re afraid

Sometimes there’s a learning curve. Don’t let it freak you out. In fact, if you’re afraid because you’re challenged or trying something new, that’s great! Discomfort is a side effect of growth.

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The truth is, the things you’ve already learned in life build upon themselves, feeding into new tasks as you develop them. And you have a great capacity to absorb new information. There’s very little you can’t learn, and honestly you’re probably already fine at it. The only regret you’ll have is not having started sooner.  A little stress, a little discomfort — it’ll all pass. But making up for lost time? That’s pretty tough. Just do it. You’ll be fine.

6. Try harnessing your fear of not being “good enough” and use it to drive you to try harder

The hardest part of anything you put your time and energy into is the first action. Once you’re a mile into a daily walk, you’ve got a pace going and you’re not even thinking about how hard it was to get started, you’re just getting it done.

From improving physical health or physique to mastering a new computer program, the prospect of attempting something new can be daunting. The doubt in the back of your mind that you’ll succeed or negative self talk can keep you from ever trying. But the truth is, a failed attempt will not haunt you the way a lack of trying will.

When you start to doubt yourself, collect that fear and mentally fuel your desire to meet goals. Rather than succumb to feeling that anxiety spreading across your chest, consciously realize that once you get started, the best of your problem will soon be whittled away into something manageable. Don’t be okay with failure or complacency — use fear of those things to conquer them.

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7. Use fear that someone else is living your dream to focus on your goals

Jealousy and envy; we’ve been taught that these are detrimental dispositions, and to some extent they are. Any time you’re burning up energy occupied with someone else’s life instead of you own, you’re wasting time. Unless you can use those feelings as fuel for focus.

Do you see people living the life you want? Jealous? Don’t be! Realize that they’re as human as you, with their own sets of pitfalls, insecurities and imperfections. If you want certain things in your own life, rather than ooze with jealously, ask yourself, “Why am I feeling this way?” If the answer is, “I want to travel, be in a happy relationship, or start my own business.” you realize the root of your feeling and can turn your attention to questions like, “What steps can I take to make these things a reality in my own life?”

Once you start spending your energy on your own goals, you’ll find you’re too busy to steam over other people’s accomplishments. And when you do find out about what your peers are up to, you’ll be happy for them since you won’t be hampered with your own guilt or feelings of short-coming.

8. Bear in mind that failures are inevitable, but nothing helps you learn so well as failing.

From time to time, you will fail. Failure is part of the process. Any successful person will tell you that, at one time or another, they failed.

These stories of failure are also consistently tied with astounding successes later. The failure offered some huge insight or corrected some faulty way of approaching a problem. There’s no teacher as impacting as the sting of failure, and no read on whether something works better than receiving a resounding “no” from the people in our lives, the market, or the universe.

9. Pat yourself on the back

Appreciate the strength it takes to work through your anxiety and congratulate yourself for that. And in the future, draw from that knowledge for more strength. Look back over the things you used to fear and how you overcame them. Analyze how you were wrong about certain things that used to paralyze you, and how you were right about the things you knew you were made to do. You’ll find new fears less intimidating and your accomplishments will steadily outweigh insecurities.

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

More Resources About Job Interviews

Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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