Are you afraid to take that promotion you were offered? If so, you are not alone. While most people dream about being offered a promotion, when it actually happens it can feel scary. “What if I don’t have what it takes?”
As things are now, you’re getting praise for your work. And you know you can do the job. But if you move up to a new job with more responsibility and maybe even employees to manage, you’ll have to prove yourself all over again!
Why people are afraid to take a promotion
- The pressure to succeed feels very real and in their face.
- Their boss might not respect them as much anymore if they don’t excel.
- They might fail big time.
- Coworkers may judge them, especially the ones passed over for the job.
- What if they don’t like the new responsibilities? If even allowed, can they ask to go back to their old jobs without feeling shame?
- It might be a lot more work & not enough satisfaction for all the effort.
- Their work friends might not feel as comfortable with them if they move into a management position.
- Change is scary. And so is the unknown.
Some good reasons you might say “no”
There are many good reasons to push past the fear and take an offered promotion anyway. But, as with anything, there are almost always good exceptions, too. Here are a few that come to mind:
- You are absolutely sure you would hate the job. Not even a single doubt.
- Not enough money for the added responsibility.
- You’re thinking of leaving the company anyway and don’t want the hassle of taking on new responsibilities at this time.
- There is some danger or illegality.
- You really do enjoy your job and prefer to stay where you are for personal or other reasons. And fear is not one of the reasons.
If you really know the new job is wrong, there’s no shame in saying no. Just be really sure that you aren’t avoiding something you secretly want and / or might regret later on.
Why you should probably take the promotion anyway
Assuming none of those exceptions apply, here are some things to think about when deciding whether to say yes to the promotion:
- What’s the worst that can happen? You fail miserably. You are so bad everyone laughs at you and makes fun of you for the rest of your life. How likely is that really?
- OK. Let’s say you are horrible at the job, just as you feared. You have now experienced having “failed” (all successful people learn to get past that) and can use what you’ve learned to move on, either at the same company or elsewhere.
- If you want to stay, you work with your boss and team, looking for ways to improve. Sometimes, it takes time to wear a new job well.
- Should you still suck at the job, just make sure you keep learning new skills that you can at least take with you. And never stop making new people connections, no matter what.
- The good news is that resilience, determination, and good communication skills are things that you can transfer to other jobs. So those are things you can work on regardless.
- You might actually do a good job. And you might actually like it.
- If you do wind up moving on you will be stronger, have a better sense of yourself, and know more about what to look for in the NEXT job.
- Even if you learn that you want a new job just like the original one, there is no shame in knowing who you really are. And at least you gave it a shot, instead of wondering the rest of your life “what if?”
A few more thoughts
Being afraid to take a promotion is totally normal. But when you think about your entire life and what you want from it, what life worth living doesn’t include some fear? Courage is simply being afraid and doing it anyway.
Risk and uncertainty will always be part of any path that brings new things into your life. And so will those wonderful accidents and discoveries that come when we dare to push beyond our small & limited comfort zones.
The thing we forget is that standing still is not always safe.
We are designed to change and grow.
Also, I’ve found that by daring to try we often meet the most special people in our lives. And we stumble into fascinating new paths that we never could have imagined for ourselves otherwise.
And the biggest downside? We’ll probably have to shake off a few failures and try again. Each time learning from our experiences and finding new people and opportunities along the way.
If you look at the whole picture of your life and what you really want, probably worth stepping through some fear, yes?
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