Things are going well in your career: your boss is happy, your compensation was up last year, and you very much enjoy your job. But you can’t shake the feeling that something bad is about to happen.
Now the trick is to decide: is this anxiety or something real?
There are many reasons why people feel anxious about success, from “I don’t deserve this” to “I’m a fake” to “This is too good to be true” to simply feeling pessimistic.
It’s important not to sabotage your own success and give into such false warning signs. So use your intelligence and pay attention; see if you can spot any substance behind them. If not, let them go. I find that about 90% of my own warning signs are false.
But I’m talking about something else: an intuitive sense that something big isn’t right. For me, this sense is often far stronger than everyday vague anxiety, which can be triggered by too much caffeine, too little sleep, or just a mildly bad mood.
Imagine that – God forbid – someone told all your important contacts that there was a strong possibility you had committed fraud. Each was asked to continue to treat you normally, but to keep an eye open for any behaviors that might validate the claim. Now imagine that each person did as they had been told.
On the surface, nothing would change. You’d still be invited to meetings, still have your emails and calls returned, and still receive positive feedback from others.
But if you are tuned into your intuition – by this I mean your sense of what’s happening around you – warning bells and sirens should be shrieking loudly. There would be micro changes in smiles, eyes, expressions, voice tones, and even physical mannerisms. People would struggle to “act normal,” which means they’d act anything but normal; they would be acting in an artificial, carefully constructed manner.
In this case, you’d be 100% right to sense danger. But this time, when you considered whether there is any substance behind your sense of danger, you’d conclude: yes, there is. The change wouldn’t simply be inside you. The change would be in how others are treating you.
When danger passes the “real or imagined?” test, you should drop everything and take it seriously. Doing so has literally saved my life.
Ask questions. Do research. Don’t settle for pat or superficial answers. Clear your head, and make room for new insights to surface. Focus on your breathing. Exercise more. Meditate. Do whatever it takes to let those “just below the surface” signals bubble up to the top.
Ask yourself whether there is a focal point for your sense of danger. Do you have a new boss? Is a manager in a different division secretly undercutting you? Is it possible that your boss is flat-out lying to you?
Used in this manner, your intuition is a powerful device to keep you safe. Pay attention to your intuitive sense and combine it with good old-fashioned research and analysis; they represent a formidable combination.