I have a great job, which I enjoy and do very well. Recently though I have been experiencing anxiety issues, but they are not due to fear of failure, but rather a fear of advancement! Several colleagues have told me off the record that I’ve been earmarked for a promotion – but I don’t think I want it. I fear the added pressure and changing jobs and I worry about not performing well in the new role.

Firstly, let me reassure you that what you are feeling is not as uncommon as you might have thought. The world can seem like an uncertain place, where the desire to go with the flow, keeping a low-profile without causing ripples or fuss, is an appealing one for many. Naturally I can’t say whether this potential new role will be a good move for you or not. What I can elaborate on, however, are the probable reasons you’re feeling this way.

The word ‘change’ is a potentially scary one. It can mean so much – good, bad, hard, sad, happy, exhilarating, etc – but the reality is, anything different or out of the ordinary involves change at some level. This in turn directly triggers our instinct to maintain the status quo. Depending on how you perceive the change at hand, this will directly correlate
to how much anxiety you feel.

If we take all the individual fears you mention, we see that in fact all of these can be put under one umbrella: fear of change. You’re scared of the unknown. I expect you constantly analyse the scenarios over and over, asking, ‘What could go wrong if I’m promoted?’

Try flipping this; thinking of a successful outcome, imagining the positives, picturing the promotion being the best thing that’s ever happened to you. With a more balanced approach, you’ll arrive at a decision whether to take a promotion based on reasoning that is objective and not distorted by fear.

You say you’re doing well in your current role.
So well, in fact, that you’ve been earmarked for promotion. This in itself demonstrates others clearly believe in your ability, so who’s the one person lacking in this belief? Your colleagues feel you deserve a pat on the back; maybe the time has come to reach round and give yourself a reassuring pat too.