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Every time I finish a project in each job I start getting fears of getting laid off, my work is such that maintenance is low and it could be handed off to another developer easily.

I had a bad experience in a past position, and I can not seem to get rid of this fear of it happening again.

The fears started as I was felt "Less Needed" in meetings, faced many "Hurry up changes", "Last moment changes" and other things. This would lead me into frenzied cycle of starting to look for a new jobs, leaving the current onem where I could learn more, and continue.

Recent: I was asked repeatedly about the delivery of one page of the website, which triggered a panic in me and I said X days. I worked fine under pressure, but next day as I was watching a tutorial video, my CEO popped up on my back and I cannot see who is coming behind me and startle me, asking me, "What is the video and if it is related work?" and I said, yes to which he wanted me to show him how.

The above kind of situation send me in panic and frenzy mode and my thoughts started racing again, and I started to panic.

The panic attack made it hard for me to explain things to the CEO, and I started to doubt myself. was I being unprofessional watching the video on how to implement something (yes, it was work related).

Another thing this did was make me feel as if I was being treated like a child, making me demonstrate how the video was related to my work, as if I were a child about to break something. I was very uncomfortable being put in the position where I had to demonstrate how what I was watching was related to my work.

How can I manage my stress and panic levels so that I am better to explain myself in the future, and keep this cycle from repeating itself?

  • cookie, what country is this in? – Fattie Feb 4 at 18:16
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    @Fattie UK, the reason I didn’t tag UK is that I worked on Pakistan too and saw same practices too – cookieMonster Feb 4 at 18:18
  • Are you a permanent employee, or contract staff? – Mawg Feb 5 at 8:20
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    @Mawg contractor – cookieMonster Feb 5 at 8:36
  • Then please see my answer. – Mawg Feb 5 at 8:51
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This is exactly the type of thing you should be bringing to your manager and talking through with them. Ideally, you're meeting with them weekly already for a one on one. If so, use this time to have a very candid conversation. Be honest about your past experiences and your current stress and anxiety. What you need is reassurance that you're a talented and valued employee and that one project ending just means another will begin.

If you aren't having regular one on one's with your manager, you should schedule a meeting with them right away to discuss the current issue and your concerns. Again, be open and honest about your feelings and ask pointed questions like "What will I be working on when this project is done?" or "What can I expect to be working on over the next 3/6/12 months?". Listen to your manager carefully and ask followup questions until your fears are either calmed or confirmed. This is also a good time to mention you'd like to have a weekly meeting between the two of you to discuss your career growth/goals, workplace issues, etc. This answer is really great for understanding the purpose of one on one's.

The behavior you described from the CEO is a red flag to me for sure. Personally, that'd be enough to make me want to look for a new job. However, assuming you want to continue working there, you should also bring this up to your manager. Let them worry about managing up, but make it clear that you were uncomfortable and now feel guilty for using a resource to help you do your job better. If your manager is good, they will ensure this feedback is relayed to the CEO. Regardless, you shouldn't feel guilty about this, the CEO was in the wrong here in my opinion.

If your manager isn't receptive to your concerns, it's time to start looking for a new job. In the US, companies can't hire developers fast enough. I can't imagine it's much different in the UK. You possess a valuable skill set, and if your work environment is poor you should strongly consider a change. If you can't or don't want to leave, then you'll need to be proactive on finding more work beyond this project and take the initiative yourself. Try to take ownership of or become the expert on multiple systems/services, find problems that have been ignored and fix them, rewrite/refactor old solutions that have cruft, automate or build solutions around manual actions, etc. You may need to look at different parts of the business or talk to people in departments that are often neglected when it comes to software solutions (e.g. human resources). Alternatively, you could try to work your way into a different team in the company (if possible), preferably one with a good manager who will have your back and help you grow.

Finally, make sure you are taking care of yourself. Work isn't your entire life. Remind yourself that it's not worth getting stressed over. You are a talented, in-demand professional. Make sure you're eating decent and getting some exercise to help keep your stress down as well. Don't over indulge in drugs or alcohol. Enjoy your family and social life, work is just a small part of our time on this rock.

EDIT: I also want to echo what Fattie mentioned in their answer - seek out treatment for your anxiety and stress from a mental health professional if it continues. There's no shame in doing this and it will help you manage things better if you are struggling to do it on your own.

5

There's a saying "Once bitten, twice shy".

When we have an experience that generates fear, we tend to experience that same fear even if the danger is not present, such as getting bitten by a dog, we tend to be overly cautious in dealing with that situation in the future.

The bad thing about this is that we start to create a self-fulfilling prophecy of course. We tend to react to the non-present danger, and thus creating it.

If you were bitten by a dog, for instance, and was after that, acting very nervous around another dog, that dog would feed off of your fear, and be more likely to bite you.

By letting your fear on the job get to you, you are making your coworkers and superiors wonder if something is wrong.

I suspect that the CEO wanting to see justification from you with regards to the video was more of a reaction to what he may have read as a guilty reaction from you when he walked in.

If you had had a reaction like:

Oh! Hi, CEO! How are you doing today? Hey, have you ever seen this tutorial? It's great! It will really help with XYZ project.

it would have had a much different response from him than your nervous reaction which made him suspect you may have been doing something wrong.

THE GOOD NEWS

You actually have a great deal of power here, as you can control how you react.

You just need to change your mindset. When a project is ending, you should be thinking! Great! I did it!! I'm proud! When you're nearing the completion date, you should approach your manager/boss, group et cetera, and ask for more work. Better yet, see if you can find things that you can improve on and say...

Hey, boss! I'm winding down on the XYZ project, but I noticed that I could probably make some improvements to ABC, while I'm finishing up on it. Would you like to see my ideas?

This is all in your mindset, which you can control.

Also, if you can get counseling, do so. Pick up a copy of "How to stop worrying and start living" by dale Carnegie.

If there are any support groups you can find through local services, or any religious organizations you belong to, seek them out.

If you can find professional help, do so. It sounds like you suffered some trauma from that one bad job that made you question yourself far more than is healthy. It also sounds like that bad job kicked you into having a bad case of "imposter syndrome"

You have the skill and talent required, or you never would have gotten even 1 job. Remember that.

In the mean time:

  1. Count your blessings, not your problems
  2. Change how you frame things in your mind, a project ending is not a ticket to the unemployment line, but a chance to show what you did
  3. Talk to friends and family
  4. vent to sympathetic ears
  5. Brag about your achievements, but constructively, use the CAR method: Challenge, action, result. "Wow, we had 'C' happen, I stepped in and did 'A', and thanks to that, the result was 'R'.
  6. Greet higher ups with enthusiasm, not fear
  7. Be proud of your actions, not ashamed.
  • I admit I feel guilty when someone crosses behind me looking at my screen and saying to me what r u watching/ doing. It is not one time it has happen. This is 3rd time he had checked upon me. I feel undertrained or intern. One of reason in my some jobs I prefer to have seat against wall cox of ppl asking me – cookieMonster Feb 4 at 22:06
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Taking into account that it's a PROJECT, as you approarch the end of the contract, get ready to look for another job. It's safer.

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You have answered my comment by stating that you are a contractor, rather than permanent staff. That makes a world of difference and you should have stated it in your question (did I miss it somehow?).

All that I can tell you after *cough* decades of contracting is that that is that felling may never go away, but it certainly gets better with time.

It is only natural to worry about being without income for a few months, although you can make yourself fell less anxious if you have savings to cover that period.

Other common sense – if you are going to be tied to a location, make it one with plenty of work : Cambridge Science Park, M4 Corridor, Central London, etc. That way you won't have any worries about accommodation.

You don’t say if you have had frequent long periods between contracts, but this is quite unlikely, so remind yourself how worried you were previous and how well it all worked out. The longer you work, and the more contracts you have, the more you will see that there’s not too much to worry about.

Of course you should start looking around about 6 weeks before the end of your contract, but in my experience (*) if a company has been satisfied by my work, then they would rather keep me and move me to a new project than to hire a new unknown for the new project. I don’t even need to be great, just satisfactory, to be a better risk than an unknown.

(*) I am an embedded developer, not web, so things might be slightly different, but I think that the bulk of my advice is applicable.

Don’t worry, I promise you that it gets better with time :-)

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