What do we worry about most at work? According to Entrepreneur, the four most common workplace worries include getting fired, not getting that promotion, crippling workloads, and bad relationships with bosses.
Looking at this list of (valid) concerns also made me consider small scale worries. It’s the little things — like wondering if anyone else noticed you were 15 minutes late to work — that really make us sweat the small stuff.
Luckily, most of these workplace worries are short term and don’t register beyond a few hours on our radar. Here are four of them that I've stopped stressing about — and it's really improved my day-to-day life.
1. Looking Instagram perfect.
A few years ago, I briefly had an office job where it was an unspoken requirement to look IG ready. The girls working there had hair extensions, sleek manicures, stilettos and contoured makeup ready to go every day.
I rolled up dressed in my best potato sack.
Just kidding. I’ve always dressed nicely for work, and it wasn’t like I wore pajamas or anything. Still, there was more than one day working there where I fretted over my choice to wear boots and have my hair up in a messy bun.
In retrospect — and I can’t stress this enough — worrying about having perfect hair or fingernails was so dumb. It was a complete waste of time! How was getting my hair blown out supposed to make me work harder or be a better employee? Gradually, I learned to let it go. I was happy with the way I looked, and that’s all that matters.
2. Always having the “right” response.
This is a classic worry to have in the office, especially if you’re new to a gig and still trying to remind everyone why they hired you. I used to have it and so did Keina Bowling, Marketing Manager at standing desk company Stand Steady.
Bowling says that having the “correct” response was something she used to stress about constantly:“Coming straight out of college, I always wanted to impress my superiors and give them the ‘right’ answer.”
Then, Bowling prepped for meetings the way anyone with this kind of worry might: she over prepared and imagined the worst-case scenario. Usually, that meant envisioning getting laughed out of the room for not knowing the answer.
Now, Bowling is much more confident and doesn’t let not knowing something get to her. She even has a reply ready for that former worst-case meeting scenario: “I have learned that sometimes ‘I don’t know. I can look into it and get back to you.’ is a perfectly acceptable response.”
3. Being too young.
If you’re worried that you’re too young to be taken seriously, the good news is that you’ll (eventually) grow up and age out of that concern. In the moment, however, nothing can feel more irritating than seemingly being judged for your age when you’re trying to prove you can accomplish great things.
Age was a former worry for Kate Gorman, Founder and CEO of Fort Mason Games. Before she became the CEO of a mobile game company, Gorman was one of the youngest people at her job. She constantly worried about her age and being so young.
What kind of advice would Gorman go back in time and give her younger self? Be more confident!
“I realize that it’s contributions that are more important than age. Bring strong contributions to the table. This is much more important than worrying about what you might not have or how you may be different than others," she said.
4. People liking me.
If Entrepreneur added a fifth worry to their listicle, it would be the question of whether or not you’re likeable in the workplace.
Currently, I’m on what is referred to as my “second tour of duty” at a once-former job. I worked there for three years, left to explore other careers during a sabbatical-esque stint, and returned again. I’ve been back for a second time three years more, and the ‘me’ in the workplace now is so different than who I was the first time around. I used to be incredibly quiet and self-conscious. Now, I’m much more relaxed and talkative. Could I have been this way the first time around, knowing what I know now?
Jennifer Brick, Founder of Capdeca Solutions, also used to have the same concerns.
“I used to worry that I don’t know if people like me at work,” she admits.“There’s an inverse relationship for women in leadership to likeability and level.”
As time progressed, Brick realized her job wasn’t to be everyone’s best friend. Much like Gorman advised, it was to let Brick’s contributions guide her forward. Now, she cares about having her achievements acknowledged and letting her results speak for themselves.