Promotion Anxiety: Cut Through The Stress With These Simple Tips

Joanna Tresa

Last Updated: September 4, 2023
no preview

Have you ever accomplished a goal only to question your abilities later? After many years of service, you could finally be appreciated for your contribution.

And when you finally receive the promotion you’ve been waiting for, you experience “promotion anxiety,” which is a terrifying feeling. It sure might be intimidating to transition to a new role and responsibilities.

Many of us dream about the time we finally earn that sought-after promotion. Imagine having it all: an important promotion in your profession, a great deal of responsibility, a larger team, and a major salary raise. Everything happens so quickly: your employer sets your annual goals, the previous manager offers you a rapid handover, and you meet your new colleagues and peers. After a few hectic days, you enter your new corner office and, if you’re extremely lucky, sit at your new desk to celebrate your achievement.

What comes next, though? Anyone who has been in such a situation knows that the solution is not simple. Because everything that occurs from this point on is your responsibility. You are in charge. You must use judgment, make difficult decisions, and possibly even define your own role. The enormous unsaid expectation that you will know exactly what to do will come from your team, your peers, and your employer.

While a few executives with unwavering confidence jump right into action, for the majority of new leaders, this is a time of indescribable dread and uncertainty. Ironically, loneliness also characterizes their greatest professional achievement. And that may be really upsetting psychologically for certain people.

promotion anxiety

But First, What’s A Promotion Anxiety?

A promotion can be a huge step forward in your career, but what if you suddenly feel like a fish out of water? Career promotion anxiety is a feeling of an overwhelming surge of stress and anxiety associated with a promotion in your career. Don’t worry, it’s quite normal, natural, and everyone experiences it as each would reflect on his or her capabilities. Rationally, we all are, by nature, afraid of failure, disappointing others, and new responsibilities. But by being open to change, getting a pep talk from your boss, and getting feedback from your colleagues who believe in your skills, you will be able to smoothen things out. 

How Do I Deal With The Heebie Jeebies Of My Promotion?

Here are a few reflective ways you can cope with the anxiety that kicks in when you’re super hyped about your promotion but not sure how to process it:

  • Pay attention to your biases

Confirmation bias is one of the many biases that run a riot through our complex brains. And with every ounce of anxiety kicking in over your promotion, you’ll simply notice the things that drive more fear, doubt, and anxiety — evidence that reinforces the thought, even if it’s negative. So, if you are trying to convince yourself that you aren’t ready for a promotion, then guess what! You will ONLY  notice the evidence around you that supports that. So, understand that this cognitive bias can either make or break your self esteem in this regard. Use this to your advantage and reframe that thought to something more useful, such as:

I have enough transferable skills.

I can learn what I need for this role.

I deserve this role, and I can do this!

  • Learn more about your new role

At first, getting a promotion could seem intimidating since it will expose you to new responsibilities. Taking steps to feel more ready and prepared will help you conquer your anxiety. Learning about the tasks and responsibilities that you will have in your new position is one preparation you may want to do to settle that uneasy feeling of not knowing much about your new role. You might look for information about the role online or ask your coworkers who are in a similar role or department. Having some information might make you feel prepared for the job and give you a better understanding of what to expect.

It’s essential to get a hang of your new role first, not for going the extra mile but for your understanding. Many tend to jumpstart into their new role by going out of their scope of work on their very first day. Why? Because they thought they had to do everything. Remember, you need to master your new role first before dipping your fingers outside your scope of work. 

  • Have a cup of that self-confidence

Alright, so you’ve gotten that promotion, and you feel the anxiety of new beginnings start to kick in. But just to clear things out, YOU got that promotion because you deserve it. So don a hat of some self-confidence because getting the promotion sure wasn’t easy. You deserve it because your skills, leadership style, personality, and approach to decision-making and problem-solving has earned you that bigger seat, and perhaps an even bigger office space! And to let you in on a not-so-secret thing, you wouldn’t have gotten so far in the first place if it wasn’t for self-confidence!

coping with promotion anxiety

  • Discuss your transition with a mentor

Why? Because it pays to have a fresh set of ideas and advice from someone who wants nothing but the best for you. “But where do I find a mentor?”, you may ask. Well, a mentor could be your work bestie, a supervisor, or an acquaintance in the corporate world. Don’t focus much on finding yourself a mentor during your transition; instead, seek advice from your trusted peers and managers within your workplace to help you get more clarity on your role and get an overall outlook of this promotion. We cannot emphasise enough the importance of having a mentor in the corporate world, because sometimes, you need a different view of things to make better decisions. 

  • Breakup with the past and exit the comfort zone

They say breakups hurt, but breaking up with your old job role can hurt a little more, especially if you’re the kind who glorified and worshipped your work. Jokes apart, in the light of your transition period, you need to understand that it’s time you bid adieu to your old role and finally set a date to end all past responsibilities. It’s just like how a friend would advise me to never take the past along with me — the same is quite literally applicable to your work-life. With new roles and responsibilities incoming, it could take a while to get used to new systems, but at least you’ll be out of your comfort zone. 

The truth is that there is only one direction to go: up. Go for the promotion if you believe that your future self would appreciate it. You will always find the job to be much more gratifying if your present and future objectives are indicative of the position, and if you always have the option to be pleased in the new position. Keep in mind that it really is only a matter of thinking in the end. Only until you make the decision to face your anxieties head-on and accept the unknown will you be able to regulate your thoughts and carry out whatever is required of you.

Beat The Promotion Anxiety With Mentoria

And on that note, congratulations on your promotion! If you found this article helpful or would like to seek some professional advice to help you deal with the promo-anxiety, Mentoria is here for you! We don’t just counsel and give you tips, we have a habit of being with you through thick and thin, throughout your professional journey! Sign up for a session with us, because we’re just a phone call away!