MYTH: Workplace anxiety is nothing more than a temporary stress and burnout. For Chrissake, just change your job.
I was talking to somebody the other day when he suddenly said, “I turned down another promotion because I basically was afraid of change”.
Turns out this man has been struggling with anxiety for the last 15 years and the last promotion was so stressful that he purposefully turned down another one when the opportunity came along.
Wait, isn’t it normal to have the fear of the unknown?
Not when it becomes a consistent pattern and paralyzes you while making even the smallest decisions.
The TRUTH is: workplace does NOT give you anxiety. It may give you high stress, poor sleep, and a serious burnout. Heck, it may even give you a heart attack.
However, anxiety always comes first and it affects EVERY part of our lives. But it is especially noticeable and difficult to manage in the office and the issue becomes more obvious.
Take away the word “workplace” and what you are left with is the world epidemic and a death sentence to your career.
Anxiety zaps your creativity, happiness, success. And in some cases, it puts bonuses, promotions, and careers themselves at risk.
If not addressed, here’s what your anxiety will cost you over your lifetime.
1.Anxiety erodes your earning potential.
The average salary of a mid-level manager today is $65,000 and Sr. Manager earns around $130,000 as a national average according to glassdoor.com. To keep it simple, let’s assume that you are earning 100,000 a year in your current position. In the next 10 years if you stay in the same position and the same salary level with no career advancement, your earnings will amount to roughly $1mln before tax.
However, if you were to move up every 3 years with 10% increase in base salary, you would have earned about $225,000 higher in the same 10 years. That’s almost a quarter of a million dollars that could go towards giving your family the financial future they deserve, retiring comfortably, and crossing items off your bucket list.
2.Anxiety deprives you of building a valuable network
The old adage “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” still holds true. Without connections and networking skills your career will be stagnant at best. The value of having a strong professional network goes beyond creating visibility or hearing about a lucrative job opening. That’s how you also find mentors and advocates who can influence your career, your mindset and even the rest of your life. Yet for so many of us, networking can be quite uncomfortable and for some it is scarier than walking into a lion’s cage.
This problem is more pervasive than you think. It is important not to brush it off as “shyness”. Pay attention because there are people around you who are silently suffering from this problem. And if you are one of them, you know that managing your anxiety quickly becomes a full-time job – on top of your other professional duties. You make every attempt to appear normal on the outside when there is an exhausting battle going on inside. You have found ways to cope…and pretend.
3.Anxiety keeps you silent…and under-appreciated
As you climb up the proverbial ladder, your technical and tactical knowledge becomes less important and your communication skills become critical. Quite simply, your paycheck depends on it. Requirements such as “excellent written and verbal communication skills” permeate almost every job posting. Those dubbed as “good communicators” are revered by others who feel less fortunate in their public speaking abilities.
If you struggle with even a moderate form of anxiety, speaking up in meetings, voicing ideas, leading a meeting or speaking in front of an audience can be a formidable challenge. Those who are more vocal, who communicate ideas and voice their concerns are the ones who get better visibility and ultimately move up in their career path. Think about all those times when you wanted to speak up but couldn’t or chose not to. It’s not just opportunities lost. Quite simply, you do not have a voice and you are not speaking your truth. Which leads me to my final point:…
4.Anxiety takes away your purpose
…you are not living your purpose. Anxiety makes your world small, makes you think small and play small. You refuse to take chances and do not assume risks. Stepping outside of your comfort zone is too much to handle. And we all know that the most growth happens exactly outside of that zone – where a person with anxiety would not dare set their foot.
If you’re too consumed with playing out worst case scenarios, low on trust and live in fear of the unknown, you may never experience professional, or even personal, fulfillment. In all honesty, it is a tragedy because we are all meant to make a difference in this world and make our own contribution. Which talents of yours and which dreams are you hiding from this world?
Anxiety is shrouded in stigma and serious misconceptions that leave millions suffering.
In the US alone close to 40 million Americans are affected by anxiety and yet it remains a mystery condition with very few answers on how to effectively heal it – notice I did not say “manage”.
To me the term “managing anxiety” implies lack of a permanent solution and a cover-up of symptoms. I know that this is not how you want to live YOUR life.
What we do know is that anxiety affects virtually every business as we’re seeing a huge rise in depression, stress and anxiety worldwide.
We also know that those affected by anxiety are more likely to settle for less challenging jobs and positions trading income and financial stability for less stress and responsibility.
Have you settled for a job that does not inspire you? Have you given up on playing big in life? Or are you thinking about quitting your career you worked so hard for all these years?
Since you’ve been brave enough to wrangle with anxiety, I know you have the guts and grit to fight and not give up (but you already knew that, right?). You just need the right guidance and a proven plan to break free and finally share your talents and make an impact in this world.
It’s important to understand that ANYONE can do it…even if “managing anxiety” has been the primary job on your resume of life for years. It is time to give your two-week notice to this ungrateful employer and move onto something that serves you much better…it is time to rebuild trust in your own body and abilities…it is time to take chances in life and stop giving yourself permission to live small.