Common Fears That Come with Following your Dreams

by Jennifer Sigler| April 13, 2017 | Workhappy Blog

Entering a career transition can feel like you’re staring off the edge of a mountain. It’s OK – take the proverbial leap.

Face your fears. Follow your dreams.

These were common mantras in my household growing up. However, the advice is more complex than the words imply. Facing your fears is not about forcing yourself to do something, but understanding your fears so that you can overcome them. And the process of overcoming is not done once, but often over and over again.

Especially if you are in the midst of a career change. Getting promoted, changing companies, changing fields — all of these situations bring up insecurities. And you should feel them, if only because they are honest and true. But instead of “bullying yourself,” channel these fears into positives that can uncover happiness during your job search.

While fear is a far cry from a one-size-fits-all kind of monster, there are common tropes that appear and reappear.


Fear of failure can stop us from succeeding. It can be immobilizing, which keeps us from moving forward. However, if you stop moving forward, you are bound to miss out on remarkable opportunities. So allow your fear to teach you something instead! Thomas Edison learned 10,000 ways not to make a light bulb.

Don’t be afraid to fail, because you might. In fact, you probably will. Allow yourself to take something away from your failures, such as developing well-respected character traits like drive, resiliency and grit — capstone characteristics of any valued employee.

It can be just as scary to achieve our goals as it is to fail to reach them. There is the fear of more responsibility, or the fear of changing your whole life and the lives of your family. This can allow us to stand in our own way — believing that our dreams are too big, or giving ourselves excuses for missing deadlines.

Define what success is to you. If you are being given more responsibility, chances are you’ve earned it. Often we are the last to recognize our own strengths and value. Parlay others’ trust in you into trust in yourself.


Social anxiety takes up so much space in our fears. We take criticism very seriously, and generally meeting people in authority is nerve-racking the first time we interact.  Going in for an interview that you’ve worked so hard for is both exhilarating (you’re almost there!) and terrifying (what if they hate me?).

The fear of judgement also rears its ugly head if you are changing fields to do something totally new. You may, for a short period, need to take a demotion in status while you learn the ins and outs of your new industry. It is easy to get down about what others think of us, or by what we assume they think of us. Instead, use this fear to fuel your own success. Let it drive you and help you achieve your goals.

The other side of the fear coin of being judged is being alone. Success can be very lonely, just by the fact that it takes hard work — which is not something everyone is willing to put forth. What happens when you feel overwhelmed? What happens when you don’t have the answer?

Many successful people have felt overwhelmed, and at one time, didn’t know the answers to a great many problems. Find them. Study them. Ask them questions. Learn from their path to success. Mentors are an invaluable and an often-untapped resource. Mentors can also introduce you to others, help you network, and expand your peer group. Suddenly, alone isn’t so lonely anymore.


It was H.P Lovecraft who once said, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”

I feel this is especially true when it comes to our careers. We are anxious about transitions even when we know it is time to make a move. This is because change is uncomfortable. While it’s scary, it can be exciting to go down a road no one in your immediate network has tried.

The fear of time is the fear of what the future holds, but it can also relate to time that has passed, skills you think you should have learned, the internships you wish you had taken, and so forth. We hear all the time about the “overnight successes,” but what is often overlooked are the time and risks taken, the failures experienced, and the hard work put into that success.

Appreciate your current position, or transition, for what it is. So what if you didn’t develop certain skills previously. Do it now. Or, approach your new position or job search in a different way than your predecessor. Make the job your own.

Follow your dreams slowly and with intention. There is nothing written in a rulebook that says to follow your dreams, you must leap into the abyss and abandon the all the comforts of the familiar. Keep your focus in the present: What can you do right now? Recognize potential issues that may come later, but don’t waste effort worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet. Look at a career change as a time to meet new people, develop new skills, and widen your social footprint.

Remember each of these fears and use them to motivate and mobilize others once you get established. Be the mentor to the new associate who might feel alone, or to another employee in whom you recognize the drive and ability to do something more than their current position allows, and help them take the leap into something new.

Jennifer Sigler is a Senior Writer with The UpWrite Group. Send a message to to see how she can help enhance your corporate or personal brand.

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