I've been asked to accompany my manager on a trip to Lisbon. I've managed to get out of one overseas trip already but I really ought to go on this one, plus it will start to look really suspicious if I bail out. I'm embarrassed to tell the truth. Can you please advise?
A: One thing's certain: you can't go on like this. Trying to hold down a job that necessitates international visits while doing everything you can to avoid travelling by air will soon reduce you to a gibbering wreck. What's more, it's just not sustainable; sooner rather than later, your manager is going to rumble you - and don't expect sympathy.
Since you presumably knew about your phobia when you accepted the job, your management is fully entitled to feel you deliberately deceived them.
There: that's the stern bit over. You do deserve sympathy and you certainly need help.
Your first decision is this: are you going to try to overcome your fear of flying or are you going to resign yourself to it? If you accept it, then you'll have to give up your job - and any future prospect of a similar one. It's that simple.
It would be a great deal better for you to make a determined vow to kick this phobia. There are fear-of-flying courses that, on the basis of user satisfaction, demonstrate an extremely high success rate. You'll find them listed on the internet. You should do your own research and sign yourself up. You may say you can't afford it, but that may simply be a bit of rational underpinning for your very understandable apprehension.
Your final decision is whether or not to come clean with your company. Only you can know - but my instinct is you should. Tell them about your phobia and tell them what you're committed to doing about it. I suspect - if they rate you - they'll be extremely understanding. And it will certainly strengthen your resolve to go through with it. The very best of luck - I bet it works.
- Jeremy Bullmore is a former creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London. His book Another Bad Day at the Office is published by Penguin at £6.99. Address your problem to Jeremy Bullmore at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.