Learning that you’re being offered a promotion should come as exciting news. But, the invitation to take on new opportunities doesn’t always land that way.
If you’re anxious about taking a promotion, know that you aren’t alone. There are some things you can do to regain control of the decision-making process.
Moving up in your field can be more than a little intimidating. The thought of increased responsibilities, longer hours, and new managerial duties, for example, can be unsettling and anxiety provoking. For one reason or another, you might even find yourself considering turning down an opportunity (or maybe more than one opportunity over the course of your career) because of your nervous feelings.
Promotion anxiety is a real thing, and it can derail your professional advancement if you aren’t careful. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to help ensure you make the right choice for you.
1. Know that it’s normal to be nervous
When you’re feeling nervous, heart racing, palms sweating, it can feel like a pretty negative experience. However, this is just your body’s way of coping with the excitement. Because of the adrenaline, your senses are heightened and time starts to seem to move a little slower.
But, keep in mind that this is meant to help you cope with the stress of this challenge and be at your best. Experiencing these feelings is normal. And, pushing through them can be rewarding and an indicator of real growth.
So, don’t be too worried about your nervous feelings. Know that it’s normal to feel this way. It means you’re being challenged and you’re growing.
2. Understand That you probably won’t overthink your way to a “yes”
You might decide to take some time to think about the decision before accepting or declining the promotion — and that’s just fine. But, keep in mind that there are good and bad reasons to decide to turn it down.
If you genuinely aren’t interested in the job, or if you think that the workload will be too much and the rewards too few, for example, you might want to walk away. However, if you’re worried about your ability to rise to the challenge, or if feelings of self-doubt are plaguing you, you should second-guess your inclination to decline.
Weigh your options carefully here, and with a clear and level head, in order to decide what’s best for you. Just know that ruminating on a fear isn’t helpful. It will generally make you feel worse. So, don’t try to logic your way into a “yes” by overthinking.
3. Make a real effort to consider your options logically
There are always a lot of emotions at play when a promotion is on the table. It’s normal to feel a combination of many different feelings all at once. For this reason alone, it’s good to invest some effort toward making the decision in a rational and logical way.
First of all, don’t rush to accept or decline. It’s fine to say you need a few days to think about it. At this point, find time to step back, take a deep breath, and rationally weigh the pros and cons. You may even want to make a list. Also, talk to friends about family. If everyone agrees you’re up for the challenge and that your biggest problem is your own self-doubt, consider the idea that they could be right.
Finally, review the pros and cons, and think about the advice you’d give if this was someone else’s decision. Sometimes, gaining a little distance can help to provide some much needed clarity and perspective.
4. Embrace humility
Have you ever worked with someone who was overly confident? It’s pretty obnoxious, right? On the other hand, have you had a coworker or boss who was humble? How did that go?
If you’re on the fence about whether or not to take a promotion, it might help to know that you don’t have to feel super confident in order to say yes. It’s all right to feel a little overwhelmed and in over your head. That just means you are growing and learning at a fast pace.
Embracing a humble attitude might help you, when faced with those feelings, to accept the new job. And, it could help you to ask for support along the way as you learn the ropes.
It’s important to remember that you were selected for this promotion for a reason. At the same time, it’s OK to feel a little humbled by all this.
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5. Really think about the financial cost of not taking it
For better or worse, money is an important factor in most people’s career decisions.
People often think about how much more money they’d make if they took a raise. But, it can also be helpful to think about how much money you’ll lose if you don’t take it. What kinds of anxiety, stress, and fear, could that provoke? Is it really worth signing up for that additional burden because of the way you’re feeling right now? Is it possible that you’ll experience more negative emotions over the long term if you turn down the promotion?
Also, keep in mind that this new salary isn’t the end of the road. You’ll likely receive raises and increases based on a percentage of your earnings over the course of your career. So, you’re not just making a choice that will affect your salary this year, but also next year, and the year after that.
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