Taken on a role you don’t feel ready for?

For those of you who feel that you are out of your depth within a job, it may help you to know that thinking you have taken on a role you don’t feel ready for, is an extremely common thought. In this situation, you may feel like you are not ‘intellectually’ up to the challenges presented in your role and like you are a fraud and may be ‘found out’. This is also known as imposter syndrome.

Some coping strategies for if you’re feeling like this:

  • stop always trying to be perfect
  • remind yourself of all your achievements
  • work on your self-limiting beliefs (see section below)
  • adopt some of the strategies I mention in my ‘boosting your confidence’ blog

There is a good side as well as the bad, so another point to remember is that by having this feeling of taking on a role you don’t feel ready for, it shows that you care about it. This indicates that the role has meaning for you and this shows that you want to do well. What employer would complain about this? Therefore, having this feeling can be useful for keeping you on your toes and for not allowing you to rest on your laurels. All good, if it is well-balanced.

Self-limiting beliefs

Self-limiting beliefs can hinder you from being the best version of  yourself. For example, if you don’t believe that you are up to taking on a new promotion, then this can mean that instead of being excited about the role, you are full of anxiety about the responsibility that you have.

Examples of self-limiting beliefs:

  • I’m rubbish with data and numbers
  • I believe that only a particular ‘type’ of person can be promoted in my organisation. For example, you may think that they need to be diplomatic, of a certain class and/or educated to a certain level.
  • Feeling you have failed because you didn’t quite make your highly ambitious sales goal.

Beliefs are not truths, even though they feel like they are. They are not rigid and you can change them. To other people, beliefs are only opinions. Detecting the belief is the first stage. You can then examine it.

Watch out for:

  1. Feelings that you can’t feel, for instance:
    • I feel they don’t like me.
    • I feel that I’m not going to succeed
  1. Negations – e.g. I can’t have a good relationship with that person.
  2. Comparisons – e.g. I’m not good enough, or they are better than me.
  3. Modal operators of necessity i.e. should, ought, must, have to, need to, got to.
  4. Unhelpful thoughts.

Here are some strategies in order to change these beliefs:

(Note some of these strategies might be more applicable than others, depending on your situation)

  • Try to find a counter-example. Think of someone who has successfully done what you are trying to do, with the same challenges.
  • Think of the situation from another perspective. Consider what someone else would think about what you have achieved. This is to be used when you feel that you haven’t quite made your ambitious goal.
  • Try to reframe the situation. Are there any positives to come out of it?
  • Check reality, is the situation really true?
  • Increase your capabilities, get some training in the area that is your weakness.
  • Pretend/ act ‘as if’. This is the same as the ‘fake it till you make it’ attitude. A good question to ask yourself if you feel you have taken on a role that you don’t feel ready for, is, ‘if you knew you could do this, what would you do?’
  • Try to cultivate a mindset for success. As Victor Frankl says, we always, in whatever situation we are in, can choose our response to any given circumstances. Victor Frankl was a holocaust survivor and psychiatrist.
  • To focus on having a mission, vision and purpose. If this is strong, then you will be working towards achieving something that is bigger than yourself. It can help to think about who else will benefit from you achieving your goals. This can help you push through any self-limiting beliefs.

I want to reiterate that it can be helpful to remember, if you feel overwhelmed and that you are not on top of your job and are making it up as you go along, you are not the only one. There will be many that are in your position and who are hiding this fact.

Further support and training

If you are working in supportive environment, you can see what training is available to help with your role.

When you actually want to take on a role with less responsibility

If you have worked through your values and it is part of your plan to step back and slow down, then refusing to take on a role that you don’t feel ready for, may be the correct decision. If you take it on and it means you are time-poor and over-stressed, deciding not to continue with it could actually be a valid conclusion. This is the case, especially if your health and well-being are being sacrificed.

When this is the case, it’s good to take stock and recognise what you need after taking the step down. In these situations, often a shift to a slightly or totally different career is the answer. It is often hard to stay working for the same organisation once you have decided to go for a role with less responsibility, as the focus of most is on progression.

I hope this blog has given you some food for thought, as well as some strategies that you can take forward. If any of it has resonated with you, and you wish to get some further support, I offer 1:1 coaching sessions. You can see more about my methods and my prices on my coaching page.


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