When You Think You’re Bad at Your Job…

By Mel Sim

And what you need to do about it

Ahhh…. Job insecurities. You probably think it only happens to a newbie like you but guess what, throughout your entire career, you’re bound to have some sort of insecurity about your current role. Whether it’s your first or third job, first week or first year into the job, there will be times when you may doubt your capabilities and wonder if you’re really in the right job or industry.

Your boss or colleagues may tell you you’re doing great and you can prove it with that positive performance review. So why do you feel like you suck at your job and am worried that the rest will find out about it soon?

First up, it’s this thing called the imposter syndrome (you can read all about it here!) where you feel like everything you do at work is an act to show that you’re confident and know your way around when really, deep down inside you feel like you are grasping at thin air trying to make sense of things. Others may tell you that you’re doing fab, but you think to yourself otherwise and downplay your expertise (you can also read all about selling yourself short here). Your inner critic keeps telling you that you’re not good enough… and whenever you make a mistake (even a small one) or your boss criticises just a little bit, you think there you go, I suck at my job.

But do you really? Most people who think they aren’t good enough for their role actually have nothing to worry about – they just need some time to get their head around the responsibilities and gain confidence along the way. Sure, you may not be an old hand at your current role but if you really think about it, you’re not exactly a noob either.

Be careful with the inner critic– it’s what’s building that seed of doubt that can really affect your job. When you tell yourself you’re not good enough, you obsess over every mistake you make (big or small), say no to opportunities because you think you’re not good enough, and lose focus on what’s important: To learn, be better and realise your potential.

So the next time you’re feeling inadequate at work, try this:

Make a list of your accomplishments over the past year, regardless of magnitude. Doing this helps you focus on the positive and is a quick and easy way to step back and look at the whole picture instead of just zooming in on the negative. Don’t have much on that list? Why not list down the things you think you can accomplish (be realistic) and set your mind to achieve them? Come back to that list three months later and see how many of those you can cross out as a validation that you are actually really doing something meaningful at work.

Ask for an honest review. If you have a colleague whom you can confide in, tell her your concerns and ask for her honest opinion on whether you are really suffering at work or if it is just self-doubt talking. Find out what your strengths are so you can use them to your advantage… and your weaknesses so you can improve on them. Don’t have a colleague you can talk to? The next best person to get a review is none other than your boss! Get some one-on-one time with your boss and ask how you’re doing. This is especially good if it is your first job or if you’re new at the company.

Stop comparing yourself. We bet that’s what you’re doing and you come out of it thinking your colleague is doing so much better than you are. Want in on a little secret? She probably thinks the same of you. There will be people who will be better than you are at some aspect… the same can be said about your skills. Which is why teamwork is so important to get everyone to contribute in the ways they can for the best outcome.

Ask for help. OK, so you really do have some issues with work. This is where the whole “every day is a learning process” motto comes in. If you are unsure or if you feel like you’re making mistakes, talk to your supervisor for guidance or feedback, or talk to a colleague for ideas on what you should do to improve yourself. Not only is this a good way to address some of your weaknesses at work but also a great way to find out what you can do so you don’t have to feel like you’re not good enough anymore.

Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis andCharles Deluvio on Unsplash

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