I Suck at my job

I Suck At My Job! Feeling Completely Incompetent!

What to do When You Live in Constant Fear of Being Fired.

First of all, let’s have a look at what the problem “I suck at my job” exactly is. It amounts to something like this:

“I’m freaking out because I’m completely useless. I keep forgetting minor details, but so obvious ones and my co-workers think I’m a complete idiot! If I don’t improve soon I’m going to get fired and my CV will be ruined!”

Trying Really Hard and Still Failing.

It’s ironic that the more you obsess about being the go-getter, the star pupil, the successful one, the more likely you are to screw up. Obsessing with every pore of your being about doing something right is bound to make everything go wrong. Like when you’re typing while someone is watching you, suddenly the same fingers that can manage to type “Do penguins have toes?” at 3 a.m. in the dark, don’t know where which key is anymore. The surest way of making every dumb mistake out there is to be scared of making mistakes. Now all you need is for everyone to notice those mistakes and self-confidence has just left the building – vowed to never return until you get a new job, in a new city. But since you actually want to keep your job, you in turn vow to do better. Meaning: the checklists, the re-checking yourself, the task reminders, the to-do lists, the list to keep track of your to-do-lists. All of it to make sure you don’t have to come up with another excuse for why you couldn’t do something, you’ve in fact forgotten to do. And yet, despite all this you’re still forgetful, easily confused, misunderstand things, completely blank on things you should know… rinse repeat = you still suck at your job. So in order not to suck, just stop. Stop obsessing and panicking and stop beating yourself up.

Here’s the Deal: You Have to Work to Your Strengths.

There is no point in replaying your own failures over and over again. There might be lots of things you struggle with, so you have to try to do the things you’re good at really well to make up for it. There’s always something you screw up. Sometimes you’re lucky and it’s just that you printed the mailing labels upside down and even luckier – no one saw it. Other times it’s more severe and on those occasions, everyone is present to witness that moment in time. Don’t beat yourself up about it, shrug off the feeling of incompetence and then fix it. ASAP. If you beat yourself up about every little mistake you make, others will start noticing those mistakes much more too, because you’re drawing attention to them. This endless pursuit of trying and trying and running yourself further into the ground until you need a shovel to get back out, it’s not getting you anywhere. You are what you are. Develop your strengths so you can sell them to a your employer.

Dealing with Judgment and Human Megaphones.

Often what causes us to make mistakes in the first place is that we get flustered because we feel watched and judged all the time. Especially when you have co-workers who announce every piece of paper that’s been printed to the rest of the office. People who don’t overlook details and who are real life twitter feeds filled with posts about your incompetence. Noticed, shared, and probably stored somewhere in the NSA Database for future use against you. Work can be a battlefield sometimes. But being scared of judgment is not making you any better at your job. We’re at our best when we feel confident enough to tell others: “Back off, this is how I do my work so stop telling me how I should answer the phone.” How can you do your job well if you feel like an incompetent nuisance every time you ask a question? What you need to figure out is, how much of this lack of confidence is due to your co-worker’s behavior and how much because you’re being a bit of a wuss? Self- Confidence makes all the difference between being good at your job and sucking at it. It makes more of a difference than actual skill does because so much of work life is about handling people rather than tasks. The first thing you need to do is stop being scared of the people around you. This takes some time and a lot of testing out. You need to get a feel for who the people around you are. How do they work? What are things they aren’t good at? Instead of fighting them, try to adapt to them. That doesn’t mean always meekly giving into what others are saying, but rather understanding why they see things the way they do. Whether you agree with them or not is an entirely different thing. Once you stop feeling terrified of your boss and your new (or old) co-workers and understand that they too are humans, thrown into the uncertainty of work life, you’ll start getting along with people better. Instead of only noticing your own weaknesses, notice those of the people around you too. This doesn’t mean, under no circumstances does this mean, pointing those weaknesses out to them all the time. But it’s good to know that people might react the way they do because they feel they’ve screwed up or because they’re trying to avoid having to do something they’re not good at themselves. The best way to stop being scared of something is to get to know it. This way, you can build the confidence to stand by your own opinion and work techniques. The confidence to tell people, who constantly correct you, in a nice and polite way – to fuck off.

Taking Criticism Like a Pro.

Be open to correction, sometimes even the most obnoxious smart-ass has a point. But don’t naively believe every critic out there to know what he’s talking about because most don’t. Be critical of criticism and only take the kind to heart, that helps you improve. Often people criticize us for things we can’t change and some of it we really don’t want to change. This is who we are. And there’s no reason to change something about yourself just because a co-worker thinks you should. Criticism can be motivated by various reasons. Maybe you’re just working with someone who is in the habit of voicing everything they think out loud, judging everything they see and believing that their opinion is asked for by those around them. Maybe it’s fear, insecurity about ourselves and our position can make us lash out at others, trying to keep them down. Maybe it’s ignorance. We often reject something, an idea or an opinion, upfront without actually knowing anything about it. Or maybe, the criticism is actually valid, founded in logic and meant to be helpful. The trick when dealing with criticism is to always treat it like a potential lie you have to spot. Carefully fact-check if there’s something to it and when in doubt, assume it’s a lot of bullshit. You have to or our overly critical world will suck the spirit right out of you.

In order not to suck at your job, you have to have the confidence not to be terrified of failing. If you can’t accept yourself the way you are and forgive yourself for your shortcomings, no one else will. You’ve got to believe in yourself. Until you do, everything will be a struggle.


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17 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Anonymous says:

    I have been a stay at home mom for the past 6 years. Before that I was an assistant manager at a university cafeteria. I mostly was a floater, filled in whatever position needed someone.
    During my six years staying home I’ve developed a few chronic illnesses and have been very weak and have off days most days.
    I recently went back to work as a low level fast food worker and just am not the same as i was before. I could handle and did handle 20 hour days of work and school before and was good at most aspects of my job. But, now I physically am drained after 6 hrs and am really bothered by the noises that are constantly bombarding my ears, alarms, and loud blenders,etc. I figured I’d be used to them by now. I have seen the looks from customers and my coworkers, rolling their eyes, impatient and frustrated. But, they’ve also been understanding and positive. There are a lot of managers and sometimes I have 3 of them telling me to do different jobs and contradictory commands at the same time not communicating with one another. I can’t ever slow down without someone telling me what to do. I do the best I can but it seems I just can’t cut it. I’ve been there for 2 months and today I went in and worked 4 hours. I wanted to cry the whole time I was there. I was so close to giving my 2 wks notice. I’m still very seriously considering it but have no clue what other job to pursue.

  2. Kayla says:

    This is great and I’m feeling tons better. I have a coworker who sits over my shoulder 24/7 correcting and judging every single thing I do. It makes me want to rip my hair out and scream obscenities at the same time. At the end of the day I feel like complete and utter crap about myself and it’s slowly but surely draining me and making getting up for work in the morning harder and harder. Everyone I work with is at least 10+ years older than me and sometimes they bug on me about not knowing what they know. I wish I could tell them to fuck off when it gets too much but unfortunately that would leave me broke and homeless.

  3. mandy khan says:

    hey iam mandy, iam a recruiter for pilot liscence course in india and its been 3 years and i have not got a single enrolement, i just cannot convince anyone to join such an expencive course, my co workers are managing just fine though, i feel really dejected. i used to work as cabin crew and then as a crew instructor , reciently my field changed and its been all useless since then. i just cannot find anything iam good at . as a result i hate coming to work coz there is just no result.

  4. z says:

    this post seems helpful and i will take a lot of this with me next time i go into work, but when i first started my current job two months ago, i had a ton of confidence. nothing really bothered me and i brushed off my mistakes. i took note of them, but i didn’t beat myself up over them. now, everything i do is criticized. i don’t mean that people just give me dirty looks. people correct everything i do. today my boss pulled me to the side and talked with me about my performance. he told me that a lot of my coworkers complain about the way i do things. so basically now all my self confidence and energy is gone. my coworkers hate me. how do i even build my confidence back up?

    1. Misfit says: Author

      How do you build your confidence back up when everyone hates you?
      Confidence comes from knowing how to do something in a way that will lead to a positive outcome. You can’t have confidence doing something for the first time, because you don’t really know how to do something. Every step of the process is unfamiliar territory. Once you’ve done something, the second time is easier, the third is routine and afterwards you’re confident you can do. –> Until the outcome suddenly stops being positive. Why were you confident when you first started your new job? Is it because you know the work and had set routines you fell into? Or is it because so far you’ve had positive experiences when starting a new job and therefore felt optimistic, that in this new position you could do well too? Confidence also stems from the reaction you expect people to show to whatever you do. Myself, I never expect people to react well to anything I do, so I might be confident in doing the actual work but not in presenting it, since I don’t expect it to be received well. If you tend to be a person who believes that people are more likely to react positive rather than negative, if things don’t go well, it can be a shock to the system. I can’t tell you why the people at work react negative to the way you do things. Different reasons are possible: Maybe the way you do things isn’t the way they do things, and justified or not, they are really set on having things done the “company way”. Maybe they are just asses and you’ve walked into an ugly work atmosphere. Maybe your boss is the ass who hasn’t realized that his job is to show his employees how to improve instead of telling you you’re doing things wrong. Whether or not you think your boss is fair and what he said justified, you have to judge for yourself. Fact is, the only way for you to get your confidence back, is to get really good at what you’re doing. There are two layers to this: the actual work and the work environment. See, you can be really good at your job, but if people are set against you, for whatever reason, they’ll still talk shit about you and make you feel like a loser, no matter the quality of your work. Which means, that you not only need to get really good at your job, but you also need to get people more inclined to react well to what you’re doing. You have to get along with the people you work with. Especially when starting a new job, a lot of the initial conflict is due to people not knowing each other. You are not yet part of the group, have no idea who acts how for what reason. Most people have at least on some level a basic aversion against anyone new in a group. Maybe the reason people at your work don’t like you isn’t because of you but just because you aren’t yet considered one of them. Therefore what would be fine if done by people who are part of the group, is wrong when done by you. If that’s the case, in order to feel confident again, you need to get yourself integrated into the group.

      Basically what I’m saying is:
      – First pay attention to how things are done at your company and what is considered doing
      things well.
      – Then find out who is complaining about your work and, if possible, why. Avoid open
      confrontation to do this by all means, instead:
       Try asking your co-workers for advice on how they do things (to find out how their
      approach differs from yours and how to improve)
       Copy them if they refuse to help (to see if that brings improvement as to how your
      work is received, when you do it their way)
       Pay attention on how people talk about people who aren’t there (to get a feel for the
      dynamic of the group and the overall work environment)
      – Once you have some information you can judge whether people complaining about your
      work is justified or down to them not liking you/to the toxicity of the work environment.
      – Either way, work hard on doing things right/well -> basically get really good at your job.
      – And finally, lay out a strategy for yourself on how to deal with the people at work, if the
      main problem is them.

      I’m not sure if any of the above will be helpful to you, I very much hope it is. If it helps, I get what a lack of confidence feels like right now very well. Giving advice to someone else about it is always much easier than having to implement it yourself. Right now things at work might suck and you feel like a loser, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do something to improve things.

  5. Steve says:

    That article was just what I needed. I am a speech therapist in a school and after 12 years it seems as though my screw-ups(paperwork not therapy) have caught up with me and there is a chance my contract may not be renewed. My self-confidence is at rock bottom and I am constantly second guessing myself.

  6. Brent says:

    This article was exactly what I needed this morning! I just started a new job as a supervisor and I felt good about it until the other day when I got cursed out and was told I was incompetent. Now I’ve spent 2 days thinking about the jerk and what he said. Half was b.s but the other half he had a point. Just have to try to do better and call it a day. That’s about all anyone can do I guess.

  7. Mahirah says:

    I currently feel this way. I just started at my new job, 3 months in and feel so incompetent. I feel a constant horrible pit in my stomach because of it and feel awful because i’m usually a positive person so being so negative has been a blow to me. What you said is true, really gotta try not to beat myself up so much and especially not to be afraid to make mistakes and accept them because even the most experienced people make mistakes, what more a newbie!

    1. Misfit says: Author

      I felt the exact same way when I first started at my job, when you feel almost scared of going to work everyday. But it did get better. What I did is, I started writing down what I did wrong so I would remember and know better next time and it also helped put things into perspective, when I looked at some of those things and was like “I wouldn’t be hard on anyone else for something like that, so why am I so hard on myself for them?”. Hang in there. I hope you feel more posiive again soon 🙂

  8. Kay Tee says:

    This article couldn’t have been found at a better time! I know I’m good at my job it’s just that I don’t have enough confidence to succeed and I dwell on my short comings.

    1. Misfit says: Author

      Glad it was helpful 🙂 I do the same. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who feels like that.

  9. jasonb says:

    Thank you a lot. I really needed this article. At work I’ m a complete failure, I’m sure I wouldn’t have it it wasn’t my uncles’ company. Thanks and I’ll try to be more confident.

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