亲爱的紧张： 当然你不是唯一有这种困扰的人。（抗焦虑药物Xanax和Zoloft的销量在最近几年屡创新高绝非偶然。）芝加哥经营高管顾问公司Dark Matter Consulting的职业顾问戴维•凯撒认为你所描述的恐惧感属于“非理性”感觉。“由于你在过去两年丢了两次工作，你感到担心是非常正常的，”他说。“这一点完全可以理解。”
纽约东莫里奇斯的职业顾问公司Surpass Your Dreams, Inc.主管黛博拉•布朗•福克曼也表达了相同的意见：“职场焦虑非常正常。没有焦虑反倒有点不正常。”她补充说，她的许多客户都有同样的问题，但“他们告诉我他们不应感到担心。我问他们为什么要给自己这么大的压力，想象一些并不实际的事情。预想恐惧其实也很好，因为这样就可以学会如何控制。”
当然，目前的就业市场仍然动荡不安，失业率在7.9%左右徘徊，这也是一个不利因素。招聘在缓慢复苏，上个月尽管创造了157,000个新就业岗位，但同时也伴随着裁员公告的沉重打击——再就业顾问公司Challenger, Gray & Christmas提供的数据显示，1月份的裁员数量比12月份上升24%。
Dear Annie: I can't be the only one with this problem, so I'm curious to hear what you and your readers think about it. Right now, everything at work is going very well. I love my job, and I had an outstanding year-end performance review just a few weeks ago. But I still can't shake an irrational feeling of impending doom. It's probably because, before I got this job, I was laid off twice, once in late 2008, and again at a different company in 2010.
In both cases, my performance evaluations were great (just like now), so I guess I'm afraid it's going to happen again. I've tried just brushing the fear aside and telling myself to stop worrying, but I'm having trouble sleeping, which is starting to affect my concentration during the day. Do you have any suggestions? —Nervous in New York
Dear Nervous: You're right to suppose that you're far from alone with this. (It's no coincidence that sales of anti-anxiety drugs Xanax and Zoloft have soared to new heights in the past couple of years.) David Kaiser, a career counselor who runs Chicago executive coaching firm Dark Matter Consulting, takes issue with your description of your sense of dread as "irrational." "Considering that you lost two jobs in two years, it's normal to be worried," he says. "It's completely understandable."
Deborah Brown-Volkman, head of career coaching firm Surpass Your Dreams, Inc., in East Moriches, N.Y., agrees: "Career fear is normal. You wouldn't be human without it." She adds that many of her clients share your anxiety, but "they tell me they shouldn't be afraid. I ask them why they would put so much pressure on themselves -- to expect something that unrealistic. It's much better to expect fear, so you can learn how to manage it."
Of course, it doesn't help that the job market is still so wobbly, with unemployment stuck at 7.9%. Hiring is slowly picking up, but the 157,000 new jobs created last month were accompanied by a steady drumbeat of layoff announcements -- 24% more of them in January than in December, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
Still, the trouble with letting even a well-founded worry get the best of you is that it can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy: Lose enough sleep and suffer enough sweaty palms over time, and you'll start making mistakes that could lead to the very outcome you're dreading. Before things get that far, try these four steps:
1. Articulate exactly what you fear. "What you resist persists, so stop resisting," suggests Brown-Volkman. "What are you afraid of? Write it down. Say it out loud." Sounds simple, but, says David Kaiser, "Often just naming a fear makes it easier to deal with, because putting words to it gives it a shape" -- turning an amorphous black cloud of worry into a specific problem (e.g., what happens if you lose this job?) so you can take practical action.
2. Make a Plan B. "Have a backup plan for what you'll do if you do get laid off again," Kaiser says. "Keep up your networking, and look around for stable or growing companies, or even other parts of your current company where there might be opportunities for you."
The fact that you've survived two layoffs already could actually be an advantage, if you choose to see it that way, he adds: "You've landed on your feet twice before, so start doing what worked for you then." You may never need your Plan B, but just knowing it's there could go a long way toward stemming anxiety.