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Episode #200 – How to Overcome Fear in Your Animal Health and Veterinary Career

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #200 - How to Overcome Fear in Your Animal Health and Veterinary Career

Julea: Welcome to “The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, Animal Health executive recruiter and veterinary recruiter, Stacy Pursell, founder, and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both employers and job seekers in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary employers hire top talent, while helping animal health and veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast episode, we will be talking about how to overcome fear in your Animal Health career or Veterinary career. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Julea. As always, I am glad to be here with you and what an important topic we have to discuss today.

Julea: Stacy, we’ve talked a lot about fear on the podcast before. Will we be addressing this topic in a different way today?

Stacy: Yes, so, today, we are going to look at some of the major types of fear that prevent professionals from moving forward in their Animal Health career or Veterinary career. More importantly, though, we’ll be discussing specific things that people can do to overcome these fears so they can enjoy more career success.

Julea: That sounds great. Where would you like to start Stacy?

Stacy: Julea, I would like to start with what might be the most common fear in the employment marketplace, and that is the fear of change.

Julea: Stacy, is that the fear you have encountered the most when you talk with animal health and veterinary professionals about career opportunities?

Stacy: Yes, I would say that is the case. Everyone suffers, from one degree to another, from the fear of change, both personally and professionally. Unfortunately, human beings are hard-wired to resist change, especially when things are going well. In fact, people will often choose to stay in what they consider to be a good situation rather than pursue what could be a great situation.

The fear of change goes hand-in-hand with the desire to cling to the status quo, which I also call the comfort zone.

Julea: Are you saying that when people are clinging to the status quo and are in the comfort zone, they’re afraid of change?

Stacy: Yes, that’s what I’m saying. And it works the other way around, too. People who are afraid of change will cling to the status quo so that they don’t have to make a change or even think about making a change. In fact, there are two main ways that the comfort zone can hold a person back from moving their career forward.

First, it makes them feel better about saying “No” to considering new opportunities. That’s because considering a new opportunity forces you to step outside of the comfort zone. Unfortunately, a person’s first priority, whether they realize it or not, is to stay in the comfort zone.

Second, it gives a person the illusion of job security. The problem is that some people think they’re always going to have the job that they have right now or that they’re irreplaceable in their position.

Julea: We talked about that in our most recent podcast episode, didn’t we, the one about the normalcy bias?

Stacy: Yes, that’s right! But think about it for just a minute. Are you planning to retire in your current job? Probably not, and if not, then that means you’re going to likely move to another job before you retire.

I have an analogy to illustrate this, and it involves the world of sports.

Julea: Which analogy is that?

Stacy: In the sports world, the team that is the most comfortable is rarely the team that ends up winning. Instead, the team that is the hungriest is usually the one that’s most successful.

In strictly professional terms, if you’re not hungry or you’re feeling too comfortable, then you’re probably in the comfort zone. It’s okay to feel a sense of accomplishment and to feel good about your professional achievements. But you don’t want to stay in the comfort zone so long that it hurts your career.

Julea: That makes sense. What steps do you have for overcoming this fear?

Stacy: The first step in overcoming the fear of change is to accept uncertainty. You can’t avoid uncertainty, just like you can’t avoid adversity. The key is to focus on what you can control and influence and not on what you can’t control.

The second step is to alter your perspective on what change really is. Change is not necessarily a bad thing. Even from a statistical standpoint, change is good at least 50% of the time. In reality, change represents an opportunity for good things to happen.

Third, you must step outside of your comfort zone as much as possible and get used to change. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable, because the comfort zone and the status quo are career-limiting moves. The longer you stay in the comfort zone, the more difficult it can be to step outside of it, so step out of your comfort zone as much as you can.

Julea: I’ve heard that phrase before, be comfortable being uncomfortable. But it’s easier said than done, isn’t it?

Stacy: Yes, it is. However, just like anything else, you can learn it. The more you do it, the better you’ll become at it.

Julea: Do you have other steps for overcoming the fear of change?

Stacy: I do. The fourth step is to seek the advice of successful people. Many people have struggled with fear, including in terms of their career. You can ask colleagues who are role models what they’ve done and how they’ve approached change.

The fifth and final step is to prepare a plan. A solid plan is a good way to help eliminate uncertainty from a situation. As you get more comfortable with being uncomfortable and you have a plan, you’ll experience less anxiety and be more confident.

Julea: What’s the next type of fear that we’ll be discussing today?

Stacy: Our next type of fear is the fear of failure, and this is another common fear. No one likes to fail and no one likes the idea of failing. However, this fear by itself can stop people from moving forward and holds them back from going after what they want.

Julea: How can professionals combat the fear of failure in their Animal Health career or Veterinary career?

Stacy: The first step is to think in a positive fashion, and I say that because fear starts in the mind. And if you want to overcome it in your career, then you have to overcome it in your mind first. When people let fear overtake their mind, they start to suffer from irrational fears, as opposed to rational ones.

With an irrational fear, a person envisions the worst-case scenario and then assumes that scenario is going to happen. To combat this, you must do exactly the opposite. You must visualize the best-case scenario. In other words, you must visualize yourself experiencing success. For example, professional golfers like Tigers Woods visualize themselves hitting the ball before they do it.

Julea: Basically, you have to visualize yourself succeeding instead of visualizing yourself failing, is that it? That way, the fear doesn’t take over your mind.

Stacy: Yes, that’s a big part of it. The second step for overcoming the fear of failure is to set realistic expectations for yourself. Unrealistic expectations are the quickest way to feelings of inadequacy. Instead, set aggressive but realistic goals that will move your career forward.

The third step is to NOT try to be perfect. Perfectionism is an obstacle to career growth. I believe in the mantra of “Progress, not perfection,” and progress is all about moving forward in the face of uncertainty.

The fourth step is to acknowledge and accept that failure is part of the learning process. Just like there is no escaping adversity, there is also no escaping failure. Avoiding failure is not the key to success. The key is how you handle failure when it does happen. Those people who are able to learn from their mistakes are the ones who are more successful in what they do.

Julea: I’ve heard that there have been many inventors who would not have made their inventions if they were afraid of failure. Wasn’t one of them Thomas Edison?

Stacy: Yes, that’s absolutely right. In fact, I have a quote from Thomas Edison. He said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

How many of us would have given up after the 50th try or the 900th try or the 9,000th try? Thomas Edison was persistent and he did not allow the fear of failure to hold him back, and that’s why we’re still talking about him today.

The bottom line is how a person views failure is instrumental in determining how successful they will be. Those who view it as an opportunity to improve are more successful in the long run.

Julea: What’s the next type of fear that you’d like to discuss today?

Stacy: The third type that we’ll be addressing today is actually the last one, and that’s the fear of rejection. This is yet another common type of fear. A lot of people suffer from it at one time or another in their personal life, their professional life, or both.

Julea: Stacy, what steps do you have for overcoming this particular fear?

Stacy: Well, I have three steps, and some of them overlap the other steps that we’ve talked about so far today. However, that’s only natural, since some of the strategies and techniques for dealing with fear apply to multiple types of fear.

The first step for overcoming the fear of rejection is to not focus on the fear. When you give something attention, what you’re really doing is validating it. If you think about the fear and the fact that you might be rejected, then you’re giving power to the fear, and that’s the last thing you want to do.

The second step is to not minimize your value. And when I say that, I mean don’t minimize your value in your own mind, because as we’ve been discussing, fear starts in the mind. You must recognize the value that you can provide and offer, both to your current employer and also to any potential future employers. You have to believe and feel like what you have to offer is so valuable, that everyone will want to benefit from it.

And third, view yourself as worthy. The more that you view yourself as worthy, the more you will believe that other people view you as worthy, too. Even if you have tremendous worth as a person and a professional, if you don’t believe that you do, then you’ll have a difficult time reaching your full potential.

Julea: Stacy, we’re just about out of time. Is there anything else that you’d like to add before we end today’s podcast episode?

Stacy: Yes, I do. I have to say that not allowing fear to dictate the decisions you make is the number-one way to set yourself up for more success and grow your Animal Health or Veterinary career. You might think the number-one way is to get a certain amount of experience or acquire a certain set of skills, but even if you do those things, they won’t mean much if you let fear rule your decisions.

I really can not stress this point enough. I believe very strongly in this, since I’ve seen how it can affect professionals, and that’s one of the main reasons I wanted to tackle this topic again on our podcast.

Julea: Stacy, thank you so much for all of this great information. And for those people who are considering a job change or hiring managers who need to hire talent for your Animal Health company or veterinary practice reach out to Stacy today. Stacy is an Animal Health and Veterinary workforce workplace expert. There are Animal Health jobs and Veterinarian jobs on The VET Recruiter website.

Stacy: Yes, for those listeners who want to change their current job situation and are interested in exploring new Animal Health jobs or Veterinary jobs, I invite you to visit our website at We post new Animal Health jobs and Veterinarian jobs on a regular basis.

Julea: Stacy, as always, thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: It has been my pleasure Julea, and I look forward to our next episode of The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider!

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