I’m so unhappy at work I don’t know what to do any more. I just feel so lost. My confidence and self-esteem have been affected greatly to the point where I feel anxious.”
Does this sound like you? So anxious about your career that you dread going to work on Monday morning?
If so, don’t be downhearted. It’s a fairly common occurrence and most people have felt this way at some point in their careers. The key is to not stay stuck in a state of low confidence as it can leave a deeply negative impression on different elements of your life – not only those aspects that concern your work.
Lost Confidence: The Impact
Not surprisingly, existing in a state of continuously low confidence and self-esteem can lead to a variety of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and stress. However, the shadow cast can be much longer even than this. People in this frame of mind often start to doubt themselves entirely. They start to question and over-analyse themselves and all of their decisions, not just those concerning work. The problem can be all-encompassing and persistent.
Lost confidence at work can stall your career progression as you aim to stay within your comfort zone by rejecting challenging assignments that encourage personal and professional growth.
Lost career confidence can affect your financial stability. Studies show that those who are confident at work make approximately $28,000 more per year than those who lack confidence.
This is not a state of mind to be downplayed. Low career confidence can affect your health, your success, and your finances.
If this is you, then enough is enough. You deserve better than this. It’s time to take action to do something about it.
In order to restore your career confidence, we must first look at some of the reasons why you’re feeling this way.
Common Causes of Lost Career Confidence
Imposter syndrome is best described as feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. Many people further describe this as feeling like a fraud. Imposter syndrome affects around 70% of people at some point in their lives. It causes you to feel like your success is due to luck instead of your qualifications and hard work. It causes you to compare yourself to others, play down recognition, and focus on mistakes over successes. Succumbing to imposter syndrome over time can sabotage your career and leave a lasting impact on your life and, not surprisingly, it’s often a key cause of a lost confidence in the workplace.
High stress at work
Work environments can be stressful. Micromanaging bosses, uncooperative teammates, organisational changes, and new responsibilities can all cause stress and loss of confidence. Stress is directly related to loss of confidence and the more you stay in a stressful situation, the more your confidence will wane.
Fear of Failure
Perhaps you’ve had a career misstep in the past and you’re afraid to repeat it. Or maybe you’ve seen a colleague fail and you don’t want to make the same mistake. Whatever the reason, fear of failure is a common cause for loss of confidence as it stops you from taking a step forward. This is due to how you define failure. Failure can be seen as a terminal event, or a teaching event.
Is it a deeper problem?
Lost confidence is always symptomatic of a bigger problem. When we feel at a low ebb it can be difficult to identify exactly what this issue is. Whilst we may not feel like digging into our emotions it is nonetheless important to isolate the cause of the problem so that it can be effectively addressed. This alone takes bravery and it’s a good idea to do this in partnership with a trusted friend or coach if you can’t face this on your own.
If the common causes above don’t fit the bill, it’s time to look inside. Often the answer will be clear – admitting the issue might itself be the bigger problem. Be honest with yourself. You deserve to be happy and empowered.
How to Restore Your Lost Career Confidence
Realise there is no such thing as perfect
The world we live in celebrates those who seem to have “perfect lives”. Commercials tout perfect teeth, perfect relationships, and picture-perfect meals. But the truth is that nothing is perfect. Ever.
Aiming for perfection will always lead to disappointment. Not only is it practically unobtainable, but you also fail to see the amazing things that you do achieve. You are also unable to see beauty in your imperfection. Now, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t strive to achieve you best, but it does mean that you must give yourself grace when you miss the mark.
Learn to accept that failure of a valuable part of life.
Change your thinking that a failure or a mistake is the end of the world and think instead about all the lessons you learned from your mistakes. What can you do to avoid those mistakes in the future? Instead of asking yourself,“What happens if things go wrong?” ask yourself “What happens if things go right?”
Remember– no one is immune from failure. Even the most successful humans on the planet have failed. In fact, many of them will count their failures as key ingredients in their successes.
Identify why you feel this way
It is important to understand the root cause of your loss of confidence so that you can address it and move forward. Think about when these feelings of low confidence started. Was it after an event? Did they slowly build up over time? Do you feel them more in certain situations? Once you can identify the root cause, you can work on addressing it. For example, if you realise you are no longer engaged in the work you are doing, it may be time for you to find another career – one in which you are engaged, passionate, and confident. Now that you’ve identified why you feel this way, you can create a plan to help you get your confidence back.
Write down your career achievements
Most people tend to focus on their career mistakes instead of their career achievements. However, research shows that writing down your accomplishments releases chemicals in our brains that give us feelings of pride. Start by writing a list of your past career achievements – big or small. Then, begin a daily practice of recording your achievements at work.
The more you write these down, the more dopamine is released into your brain, which will not only make you feel good, but will motivate you to repeat the process to get that feeling again. This practice can help you get unstuck. So, grab a journal and start writing.
Understand that this is normal, and you are not alone
Losing career confidence is a normal thing that most people experience. You are not alone. Reach out to your personal and professional networks for help and support. Ask them for advice from their own experiences with loss of career confidence. Secure a mentor to help you work through your feelings and create a plan for getting your confidence back. You don’t have to go through this by yourself.
There are many reasons for a loss of career confidence, but you can’t afford to let low confidence take over your life. Recognise and accept the cause and then create a plan to get out of it. Understand you are not alone and lean on your personal and professional networks to help you get out of it. Fight to get your confidence back so you can have the career you’ve always wanted – one in which you feel seen, heard, and valued.