“How Do I Find A New Career, When I’ve Lost My Self-Confidence?”

Sofia's always thrown herself head first into new challenges. But a meaningless and uninspiring job has chipped away at her confidence, leaving her full of excuses not to change. When you've lost the motivation you used to rely on, and it feels like all your successes are behind you, how do you build yourself back up to find work you'll love?

What's your career history and current job?

I've had a chequered career history, involving some very steep learning curves.

As well as office work, I've been an electronics engineer, and I also retrained to work in software development.

For the past decade, I've been doing reporting and data analysis for a bank.

Throughout my career, I've been more than willing to jump in and try new things. I've always loved throwing myself into the deep end and being a total beginner at something, learning new skills and ways of working as a result.

I fell into banking after a friend recommended me for a role in her team. It was only supposed to be temporary, and the job seemed like a challenge. I'd never worked in a bank before, so I didn't understand the culture or the language. At first, it felt as though I was working in a foreign country!

But within six months, I'd learned so much that I was promoted, and my role became permanent.

How do you feel about your work?

While I enjoy sharing my knowledge in training sessions, I don't enjoy the relentlessly reactive and repetitive work I'm doing every day.

I've got hardly any control of my time, and it feels as though I never get to do any of the things I'm best at.

On top of that, I like working with people who have a practical, problem-solving mindset, and who enjoy discussing ideas. Instead, I report to an overbearing and controlling manager, and I'm surrounded by colleagues who prefer gossiping about each other, to sharing good ideas.

All of this has left me feeling deflated and insecure. Instead of looking forward to coming into work every day, I dread it.

What would you like to be doing instead?

I want to do deep, reflective work that involves focused research, investigation, and analysis.

I'm excited about the potential of finding patterns in data, presenting my insights, then using them to help make meaningful changes to issues I care about.

I've also carried out some self-analysis, and I know I need a multi-faceted career – something that allows me to learn constantly, share my knowledge, and be useful to myself and others.

I'd be really interested to work in specific areas of research, such as behavioural change in diabetes prevention: figuring out who is at risk, and what change measures could work.

I also like the idea of working in financial crime prevention.

What's the biggest obstacle in your way?

I've gradually lost the self-confidence I used to have, and that's making it hard for me to change anything.

It never used to be a problem for me to motivate myself, but now I keep finding excuses not to do things that would actively help me change my career.

For example, even though I've completed a qualification in business intelligence and data analytics, I haven't applied for the jobs I'm interested in. I keep telling myself that because I haven't got a proven track record of experience, or advanced statistical skills, potential employers wouldn't want to talk to me.

In a previous life, I know I would have gone out and found projects to do, and people to talk to. But I'm not getting any younger, and it feels as though I'm a different person from the fearless go-getter I used to be.

I'm drained of positive energy, and I can't concentrate on anything for too long – I've got lots of unfinished books lying around the house, and I keep giving in to silly distractions.

I know from experience that to change my career I need to start developing productive habits and a focused routine. But I feel so lethargic that every time I try, I fail, and then I become even more disappointed in myself. It's a vicious circle that I'm finding harder and harder to get out of.

How do I start repairing my self-confidence and developing a healthy routine, so that I can motivate myself to find work I love?

Can you help Sofia?
  • Have you been in a similar situation, or are you in the same boat right now?
  • How do you think Sofia could move her shift forwards?
  • Do you know anyone she could talk to?

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