Is Fear of Rejection Holding You Back? Learn 10 Surefire Ways To Move On

Is Fear of Rejection Holding You Back? Learn 10 Surefire Ways To Move On

If you are afraid of rejection, join the club. Every person has gone through this since human life came into existence. In ancient tribes, rejection would simply mean death. We all want and need to belong. It starts very young when we want to be accepted at school. As we grow up there is pressure not to be rejected by our peers, in relationships and, of course at work.

How many of us have had to open the dreaded letter or email rejecting our application for that dream job? Have you cried tears of frustration when a publisher has rejected your masterpiece? I can relate to the latter!

But if you let your fear of rejection take over your life, you may well be showing some of the following symptoms. It is a dreadful disease because it means that you will never leave your comfort zone or try anything new. This condition is holding you back. Here are the classic signs:

  • You rarely express your views openly and honestly at work or in relationships.
  • You seldom seek out new opportunities.
  • You make excuses all the time about never having enough, time, money or skills.
  • You tend to whine and complain a lot. You are the one who blames everything and everyone else without ever turning the spotlight on yourself.
  • You are inclined to please people all the time rather than clash with them. You prefer a quiet life.

Now, if you recognize a few or all of these symptoms, read on because I want to list 10 ways you can begin to conquer your fear of rejection and start to move out of your comfort zone.

1. You seize the moment

How many times have you kicked yourself for not taking action, reacting to a girl/guy’s interested look, or not applying for that better job? Lots of times, I imagine. When you find out that you were the ideal candidate or that guy/girl was also interested in you, then you start kicking yourself. Now the fear of rejection is nothing compared to the fear of regret. Nothing worse than going through life regretting all those missed chances. ‘If only… .’ is one of the most toxic viruses to affect the human brain. Seize the moment.

2. You know that rejection is not failure

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” –Thomas Edison


When you see and experience rejection, you begin to go on a downward spiral. You associate it with failure, mistakes, humiliation and depression. But if you learn that this rejection is nothing more than a blip on your radar, then you are on the right road to recovery. You plucked up your courage. The next time, you will not be nearly as scared when bringing up an issue with your manager, or approaching a problem with your partner.

3. You visualize positive outcomes with a critical lens

Lots of controversy about this one because most self-help sites encourage you to think of the positive outcome in your new venture or project. There is little reliable evidence to show that this can really work. Some new research shows that too much positive visualization may actually drain your energy because you feel more relaxed, and you will not reach your goals. There is a fascinating article on this in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.

It seems that the best solution may be to look at the outcome from a 360 degree viewpoint so that you can summon up enough energy. You can also prevent tricking the brain into thinking that you have achieved your objective. A more critical visualization process envisages the following:

  • Picture positive outcomes.
  • Assess the obstacles.
  • Reflect on lessons learned from setbacks.
  • Plan the steps and timing to reach the goals.

4. You control your negative thoughts and benefit enormously

Looking at the positive outcome will help to control all the other negative emotions which will haunt us day in and day out. I am thinking here of anger, resentment, humiliation, stress, and guilt.

Do these really affect the way we live and work? Barbara Frederickson, a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, has conducted some interesting research on this.

She found that the negative emotions such as fear and anger lead nowhere. But the positive emotions such as gratitude, joy and love helps to broaden your outlook in the following ways:


  • You begin to see new opportunities.
  • You are more open to other options.
  • You are encouraged to build your skills to exploit all these new possibilities.
  • You are able to use your own resources better.

Most of the research in this area shows that positive thinking can really add value to your life.

5. You are not afraid of taking risks

Maybe you think that hiding your failures will be a useful camouflage for your resume?  Think again. According to an article in Business Week, head hunters are now actively seeking those who a have experience of failure and success and who are not afraid to reveal it. The reasoning is simple in that those who are prepared to take risks, learn from failure and move on have gained invaluable experience.

According to some large companies such as Virgin Atlantic and General Electric, great success depends on great risk. Failure is a minor by product.

Analyzing failure means looking at the risks you need to take in future. You may need to discover more about your partner, your customers or your team. Try making a list of mini risks you need to take to assess what is wrong or what can be improved. You may have to approach the problem in a completely different way.

6. You do not take things too personally

You know that setbacks and episodes of rejection are just small incidents along the path of life. You know how to move on and seek out new opportunities which may open up new vistas and opportunities. If you are too introspective, you will never be able to take these brave steps of starting over.

If you watch Downton Abbey, you will remember that the characters who have been rejected do so with grace and dignity. We should try and follow their example.


7.  You know how to cope with fear in a relationship

Maybe your relationship with your loved one is being dominated by fear. There are many fears which can cover loneliness, boredom, failure, helplessness, poverty, or aging. All too often, these fears are never talked about openly but camouflaged. You know you or your partner have problems when remarks like these dominate the conversation:

  • Why can’t you ever be optimistic, for a change?
  • You are always the one who decides how much we spend
  • Oh you are always worried about something
  • You were the one who decided where we should go on holiday

The secret is to talk openly about these fears so each partner is aware of the other’s feelings.

Try to voice your fears in a neutral way. Use ‘we’ rather than ‘you’ or ‘I’. Talk about how you react in certain situations and why you feel like that.  Ask your partner how s/he feels and is there any reason for reacting the way they do. If there are financial worries, work out practical ways of how you both can be thriftier.

8. You are prepared to move out of your comfort zone

“Every time we choose safety, we reinforce fear.”- Cheri Huber

Often, you have to make a decision which will involve moving outside those safe, comfort zones. You may have to say something you feel strongly about at a meeting at work. You may have to work part-time to make ends meet. You may have relocated and will have to make new friends. You may have to learn new skills fast to keep that new job.

Just imagine if you had chosen the safe option in each of those scenarios. Well, you would still be in that boring, dead end job.


9. You have rejected perfection but you aim for excellence

Perfection is never a realistic ambition. You have to adjust your goals, ambitions and skills set to match the task in hand. Always aim for excellence.

You cannot expect perfection because it simply does not exist.  If you read Barry Schwartz’s book ‘The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less’, he cites examples of people at risk of depression and severe stress. They all have one thing is common; they have perfectionist tendencies.

10. You are aware that the real you is not your job or position

Workaholics make the mistake of giving their all to their job. It is a gross error because they are denying that there is a real person underneath who needs to love and cherish their passions, their friends and family. They hide their ethics, values and dreams. The person who copes with rejection knows that there is life beyond work, setbacks, failure and rejection.

Think about the above ten points which will help you get your fear of rejection into perspective. Once you do that, you can really say with conviction ‘And next?’ Nothing can hold you back now!

Featured photo credit: Starry night/ADD via

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.


So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box


    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.


    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.


    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via


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