“My Confidence Is Shattered. How Do I Convince Myself That I’m Good Enough To Try Something New?”

Sitting behind a desk every day was always Rachel's idea of hell. But somehow, she's found herself doing just that, in an uninspiring role that's drained her confidence and creativity. How do you find meaningful work when you're convinced you've got nothing to offer?

What's your career history and current job?

I've worked for the government for the past three years.

Currently, I'm a project officer in the Department of Transport.

How do you feel about your work?

I'm paid well, and I like the fact that the department I work in is designed to help others.

But I feel like I'm sleepwalking through every day.

I go to my office, sit at my desk, and then I hardly speak to anybody.

Even though I sit in an open-plan office, I feel very isolated. Nobody speaks much, and I hardly know the people who sit just a few metres away from me every day.

There isn't very much for me to do – in fact, my director has apologised in the past for not giving me enough work. I spend most of my time trying to appear busy.

I feel as though I'm not contributing anything that's at all meaningful, and that nobody really expects anything from me anyway.

My department is supposed to actively help the local community, but I'm far removed from that.

I never intended to be stuck behind a desk for eight hours a day. That has always been my idea of hell, and I'm constantly wondering how I've ended up here.

Sometimes, it feels like my soul is hanging on by a tiny thread.

What would you like to be doing instead?

I enjoy being creative.

I also love the idea of working in a lively and collaborative space, on something that could bring joy to other people, or helping to solve an environmental concern.

I've had a lot of random ideas. I've thought about things like fashion or product design, ethical manufacturing, or even becoming a therapist. I'm told that people really enjoy talking to me!

What's the biggest obstacle in your way?

I worry that I've got absolutely nothing to offer a new career.

I feel as though my awful job has killed all my passion, creativity and confidence, and that I'm not good enough at anything to make money from it.

I haven't got a cohesive skill set, or a secure professional background to draw upon. This means that whenever I think about something I could do, I talk myself straight out of it.

For example: what if I spent time and money on studying a new skill, and I'm either no good at it, or it isn't what I want?

In an effort to be more creative, I'm currently learning how to make my own clothes, and I've started a painting course. But the sessions make me feel sad. It's nice to learn, but if I'm not talented enough to make a career from those things, then why am I doing them?

I really want to fall in love with my career, but I'm terrified that my motivation for work has disappeared altogether.

How can I contribute something meaningful to the world, when I can't muster any enthusiasm about what I can bring to the table?

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

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