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  • Joe Burke

Navigating Promotion Anxiety: How to Thrive in Your New Role

Updated: 6 days ago

A boss experiencing promotion anxiety

Congratulations on your recent promotion! As the initial satisfaction and excitement of this new milestone begins to fade, you may be left with growing feelings of self-doubt, anxiety or imposter syndrome. You’re not alone—many professionals experience nervousness and stress when faced with new responsibilities and higher expectations.

What Is Promotion Anxiety?

Being nervous about a promotion is a common and normal experience among executives and other professionals. A promotion brings with it significant change in responsibilities, expectations, and visibility.  Not only do you have to master new duties, but you are aware of living up to new expectations of both peers and superiors.

This feeling of heightened scrutiny and the pressure to perform creates prime conditions for self-doubt and imposter syndrome. Additionally, the shift in dynamics with former peers, who may now be your subordinates, can create a sense of isolation and lack of support. 

Is Promotion Anxiety Normal?

It’s important to know that feeling nervous or overwhelmed after a promotion is completely normal. In my experience helping the newly-promoted, serious problems start when clients believe that feelings of self-doubt are not only abnormal, but a sign of incompetence and impending failure. To them, these feelings seem like proof they are not ready for the role, and it is only a matter of time until a mistake makes their incompetence obvious to others. As they become fixated on failure, they start seeing evidence of it everywhere- in interactions with colleagues, small mistakes, or imagining what others think of them. It can quickly become a downward spiral of self-scrutiny and fear. 

Get professional help with promotion anxiety.

Schedule a free consult with Joe:

Helpful Tips to Manage Promotion Anxiety

1. Set Realistic Expectations: Understand that it will take time to learn and adjust to your new role. Others should expect that you will not always have the right answer, need to ask questions, and learn the ropes from superiors and subordinates for a period of time. Shift your mindset towards how you can focus on being an attentive student of your new environment rather than an immediate master of it.   

2. Embrace Vulnerability and Ask Questions: In the early stages of acclimating to your new role, you may feel pressure to know everything right away. However, this period is the most important time to give yourself permission to be vulnerable. Don’t hesitate to ask questions, seek advice, and learn from your colleagues. Feeling unknowledgeable is a natural part of starting a new role, but if you are too afraid to learn from small errors or ask questions, you are more likely to stay stuck in isolation and feelings of incompetence.

3. Develop a Support Network: Lean on trusted colleagues, mentors, and friends who can offer guidance and encouragement. Having a support system can make a significant difference in how you handle stress and provide a reality-check from unbiased sources.

4. Zoom Out: A good investment portfolio doesn’t put all its eggs in one basket. The same is true of self-esteem. Don’t forget to dedicate attention to loved ones, hobbies, exercise, and other important aspects of your identity. Remember that your performance at work is not the sole determinant of your worth and effectiveness as a person. If extracurricular aspects of your life are in disrepair, consider how you can begin to remedy that.  

5. Consider Professional Help: Depending on your needs, working with a coach or a therapist to address organizational or emotional issues getting in the way of your success and peace of mind can be a worthy and effective investment.

How Therapy Can Help with Promotion and Work Anxiety?

Picture of Joe Burke, an anxiety therapist in Cary, North Carolina

Navigating promotion anxiety can feel overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it alone. A workplace therapist specializes in addressing work-related stress and anxiety, providing you with tailored strategies to manage your feelings. In the same way that you may seek out professional training or education, seeking therapy is not a sign of weakness, but a way of being proactive about strengthening your most important asset: you. 

Joe Burke is an anxiety therapist in Cary, NC specializing helping busy professionals, entrepreneurs, and other leaders enhance resilience, manage stress, and alleviate anxiety in high-pressure professions and demanding environments. 


As a licensed psychotherapist with a certificate from NC State in Business & Professional Coaching, Joe brings years of training and experience helping high-achieving adults navigate anxiety, imposter syndrome, and workplace stressors.

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