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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Worry in the Workplace Banish the Imposter.

Job Satisfaction

Job Satisfaction

By Julie Cohen, Professional Certified Coach

Do you find yourself spending time while you’re at work, and even when you’re not at work, worrying about your performance? Thinking, for example:

  • “How am I going to get this all done?”
  • “I’m not cut out for this work.”
  • “They think I’m better than I really am.”
  • “I’m going to screw up eventually.”
  • “Why am I even working here?”
  • “I should get out now before I ruin my reputation.”

If any anxiety-producing questions are running through your head, they are not helping you be an effective professional, leader, team member, or human being.

No Place for Worry

Worrying does not serve you at any time. It takes you away from your priorities, diminishes your focus and prevents you from engaging at your full level of competence and confidence. It robs your company or organization of your full capabilities and talents.

On the personal front, you lose the energy and enthusiasm you might have had about your professional contributions. You stop taking time to enjoy opportunities and challenges that can develop at work, and it’s likely that your colleagues are not connecting with you as they have before. You and your relationships suffer.

Why Do We Worry?

If worrying has no useful role in our work and lives, why do we do it? Most people will answer this question based on situations that have occurred to them or assumptions they make. For example:

  • I messed up on a project like this before so I might do it again.
  • I said something stupid to my boss last month, and now she’s going to think I’m incompetent.
  • I’m not used to things being so difficult, so that must mean I’m not able to do this.
  • All my colleagues came from better schools than me, so they’re going to get the better work and recognition.

We’re all very good at looking at ourselves critically; this list is endless.

In reality, the reason we worry is quite simple: we focus our energy and thoughts in the past or future, instead of the present. We usually do one of the following:

  • Reminisce about how things were better in the past and worry that they won’t be that way again
  • Over-focus on something negative that happened in the past and worry that it will happen again
  • Fantasize about things getting better in the future and worry that they won’t; or,
  • Dread something that might occur in the future and worry about it happening.

With all these possibilities of worry around us, you must learn to curb this emotion and minimize the result.

Be Wrong, So What?

To begin with, we need to put our actions in perspective. Work is filled with ‘ups and downs.’  Ninety-five percent of what we do and contribute at work is filled with our accomplishments and success.

The other five percent of ‘uh-ohs’ or ‘I could/should have done something differently,’ can be fixed or turned in to learning experiences. Worriers will see and remember what they didn’t do and want to fix it; instead they should focus on their positive impact.

Mistakes will happen and you will resolve them. You must choose not to focus on the little issues and be kind and gentle to yourself.

‘What’s Next?’ not ‘What Happened?’

When you accept that not all things will be perfect, then you need to address how to move ahead. You are likely to over-analyze a negative situation. While analyzing the scenario is useful, to an extent, you must learn from it and move on. It’s easy for worriers to get stuck here.

Mistakes will happen and you will resolve them. Choose to focus on what you can impact. Ask yourself ‘what now?’ and ‘what’s next?’

Banish the Imposter

The Worrier that shows up in each of us has a name: ‘The Imposter Syndrome.’  The symptoms include questioning our competence, fearing that we will be ‘found out’ that we’re not as smart as we appear to be and disregarding all of our successes, contributions and accomplishments.

How do you get rid of this unwanted condition? Keep these remedies in mind:

  • Focus on your talents. Define all that you do for your clients, colleagues, your organization and your world.
  • Create an ‘evidence journal’ where you document your achievements, gains and wins.
  • Start a ‘kudos file’ where you keep all of the positive feedback you receive.  Revisit regularly.
  • Remember your job interviews. When you were selling yourself to potential employers, you were relentless. You knew you were the right person for the job, you could solve any challenge and your confidence was at its highest.
  • Stay in the present. The best place to be is where you are. Looking back slows you down and looking too far ahead gets you lost. *

Change your Worrier in to a Warrior and return to working with confidence.

*A great book for exploring the concepts of ‘staying present’ is Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

This article is reprinted with permission from the May 10, 2007, issue of The Legal Intelligencer. Copyright 2007 ALM Properties Inc. Further duplication without permission is prohibited. All rights reserved.


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