The Road to Confidence Part 1: Handling Worry

Tired stressed male worker

Losing your job is a traumatic experience. It ranks among the top 10 stressors for adults, along with death and divorce. In fact, being let go feels like an awful combination of death and divorce, an event that will surely shake your confidence.

And confidence is what you need for a successful career transition. No matter how good you think you are at hiding your fear, uncertainty, and anger at having to hunt for your next job, your emotions come through in your interactions with other people. Interviewers want – and need- to see your best self in an interview so they can clearly evaluate your fit for the job. So it’s important to build as much confidence as you can.

Dale Carnegie is arguably one of the most famous authors in the world. He died in 1955, but his books, including How to Win Friends and Influence people, have sold over 50 million copies internationally, and his training lives on through organizations throughout the world. Dale Carnegie training programs are designed to “invigorate employees by drawing out their natural strengths, building the courage and confidence they need to take command of their role and achieve the unexpected. And …they gain the trust and respect of the people around them.” Sounds like just what’s needed for a successful job search or career transition.

If you think Carnegie’s ideas may be dated, think again. His writing and training has endured for over 100 years because they address universal principles in common sense terms.

One of the most pernicious confidence killers for job seekers is rumination – obsessing over what has happened in the past and fretting about what might happen in the future. Here’s what Dale Carnegie says about how to “break the worry habit before it breaks you.”

  1. Keep busy. Carnegie knew that an effective antidote for misery is action. Developing a regular and varied routine that includes vigorous (and productive) job search and networking activities, along with work that benefits your home, family or community, and exercise and self-care, will ensure that you don’t have time left over for moping or fretting.
  2. Don’t fuss about trifles. Save your mental energy for things that matter, and things you can influence. Anger at the small stuff like traffic or bad service or other everyday annoyances is usually displaced and almost always a waste of your time.
  3. Use the law of averages to outlaw your worries. If you’re prone to imagining the worst possible outcome, ask yourself, What are the odds this will really happen? Then ask yourself, even if it does, can I do anything about it right now? If not, let it go. You can cross that bridge when you come to it.
  4. Cooperate with the inevitable. When bad things happen, your energy becomes a precious commodity. You can spend it wondering why it happened, or you can spending deciding what you’re going to do next. Taking action is itself a form of therapy, and helps you stay focused on what you can control.
  5. Decide just how much anxiety a thing may be worth and refuse to give it more. Remember that you can choose how much time and energy you spend on a specific problem. Give yourself a few minutes every day to feel all the negative emotions you want: worry, fury, despair, pessimism. Have at it. Then splash cold water on your face, take a deep breath, and figure out what you’re going to do next. Clean the house. Go for a run. Make a networking call. Get back to what matters and what you can control.
  6. Don’t worry about the past. It’s done. Be done with it. Get on with it.

This is the first in a series of posts based on Dale Carnegie’s writing and training. Find more information on his work, training, and free resources here.

For information on Northeast Florida, click here.

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