By Ashley Stahl
In an age of endless possibilities and major FOMO, it’s no surprise that so many millennials experience career anxiety. You may be wondering if you’re in the right job, if you’re doing enough, or even if you’re good enough. (Impostor syndrome anyone?) Maybe your boss is seriously stressing you out, or you just wish you were doing something different entirely. Data shows that millennials experience anxiety more than older generations: 30% of millennials reported experiencing anxiety, compared to 25% of baby boomers and 26% of Generation X.
As a career coach to millennials, I’ve seen it all. Sometimes clients will come to me, so wound up, that they burst into tears at the beginning of our session. They’ve been dealing with anxiety, stress, and fear for far too long. Oftentimes, they don’t even know why they feel that way in the first place. There’s no need to let it get that far.
You already have the tools within you to start addressing your anxiety. Don’t let it overtake your life! Here are four steps to help you conquer your career anxiety right now, wherever it may stem from.
1. Analyze the fear. Where is the anxiety coming from? What is it rooted in? Take a moment to reflect. Grab a journal and ask yourself what exactly you’re afraid of and what is causing it. Are you worried you’re in the wrong career? Do you fear that you aren’t “good enough”, or that you might lose your job? Once you know specifically what you are worried about, you can begin to address it. If you can’t seem to pinpoint the root cause, don’t stress! The last thing you need is more anxiety over your anxiety. Instead, start to be an observer of your thoughts at work, and notice when they turn negative. Chances are, there is something there that is causing the anxiety.
2. Tackle the root cause. Now that you’ve shined a light on what’s worrying you, it’s time to tackle the fear. What can you do to combat it? Take out your journal again and make a list. Come up with 2-3 things you can do right now, as well as a long-term plan. If you’re worried that you’re in the wrong career, for example, start with a self-assessment test. Then, network to see what else is out there and to discover what you truly enjoy. Once you’ve identified your strengths and passions, put a plan together to start pursuing this new direction.
3. Take care of yourself. Above everything else, it’s critical to practice self-care — mentally and physically. Anxiety and stress can be very draining and take a serious toll on your health. Get more sleep. Take time out of each day to relax. Start a meditation practice. Journal to get your worries down on paper. Read a book. Enjoy a long bath. Eat healthier foods. Limit your caffeine intake. Be kind to yourself, and whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up over having anxiety in the first place.
4. Talk it out. If you’ve tried everything and still can’t seem to kick your anxiety, talk it out with a specialist. If you suspect you have an anxiety disorder, a therapist can work wonders. If you feel like you’d like more assistance with your personal and professional development, reach out to a coach. Sometimes, other people can help bring things to light more quickly than doing it solo. There’s no shame in asking for help.
If you’re currently experiencing anxiety, take inventory of where it’s affecting you most. Anxiety can creep into several areas of your life, and you may not even realize the toll it’s taking on you.
While you may be one of many millennials dealing with career anxiety, remember that there’s another way to live. With the right tools, mindset, and help, you can overcome it.