Crisis of confidence - need a change but not sure how to handle it

(14 Posts)
susanalbumparty Fri 30-Aug-13 11:16:02

I am currently in the middle of a major confidence crisis at work. I have never felt so insecure about my abilities before. I am 43 and have been in work solidly since the age of 19 and have never felt like this. My anxiety levels are high, I lie awake at night worrying about mistakes I might have made, I dream about work, I wake in the morning panicking about it. I have definitely lost all sense of perspective and I am doing a lot of catastrophising. I have been to my GP and had a health check, I have thyroid issues and I thought I might be taking too much levothyroxine which might be driving the anxiety, but all was normal.

I have been in my job for 5 years and the last two have been highly stressful. I have been working very long hours with constant deadlines. The work I do has an element of confrontation/controversy and it is routine to have one's work pulled to pieces and criticised. It is also not uncommon to be told or have it implied that you are an evil git or crooked or that you are deliberately lying to get your way. It's par for the course but I find it really hard not to take it personally.

I think I have just burnt out a bit and I need a change. Before moving to my current position I used to be a PA and would love to go back to that work. It would be a step backward in terms of seniority but ironically not in salary! However, i am worried that if I do go for PA roles that employers would look less favourably at me and wonder why I am not pushing forward on my career path. Would they think I was a slacker? I am not sure how to pitch it? If you were an employer looking at my application would you be sceptical? Any thoughts on this would be welcome.

BrownSauceSandwich Fri 30-Aug-13 19:51:54

Real careers aren't about forward-forward-forward... Sometimes, to get where you really want to be it's forward-backward-sideways-forward. And sidestepping to be a PA again definitely need not be backwards. Consider that a senior PA in a big organisation could definitely kick the shit out of a manager in a small one!

You know as well as anyone that a good PA needs a unique set of skills... What's wrong with saying to an prospective employer that you've followed a natural upward progression in your current job, but you've found yourself underusing your natural strengths. You've gained some useful experience on another side of the fence, now you're taking that back to use in the type of work that really excites you. That's a mature decision... Sell it so, and aim for something really good!

EBearhug Fri 30-Aug-13 21:38:57

Yes, someone at work was saying it's not a career ladder, but a jungle frame, and you go up and down and across and back, and almost no one goes straight up.

Take some time to think about your job and all the things you do in it, and what you do and don't like. I am really not keen on my own job at the moment, but there are aspects of it I do like, and I'd like to retain those bits in another job, but lose some of the rubbish bits. Do the same with things you do outside work.

Look at the the things you find easy - if we find something easy, it doesn't necessarily mean it is easy, but that we're good at it. Those are things to focus on. Look at the difficult things - is it because you're new to it, or is it something you've never really got your head round and don't enjoy? Are there some areas you could do with gaining new skills and experience or topping up what you already have?

Think about what values are important to you - making money, making a difference to people, learning things, being an expert - there are all sorts of things, and they'll all mean greater or lesser things to each of us, so you have to work out your own.

And also think about the sort of employer you want - big, small, public service, entrepreneurial, whatever.

You should end up with a list of skills and values about yourself and your potential employer, and then you can go looking for jobs which will fit that profile, rather than focussing on the job title.

(And it's obviously much easier to tell other people to do this than do it myself!)

OrangeClouds Fri 30-Aug-13 22:02:30

<takes notes from EBearHug>

susanalbumparty Sat 31-Aug-13 11:35:59

Great responses, thank you so much. I know that PA work plays to my strengths and although I struggle with my job at present it has added several more strings to my bow that would be extremely useful for a PA at senior level ie give a new employer more bang for their buck.

Thanks again!

blueshoes Sat 31-Aug-13 12:34:28

OP, all the best. You have had good advice.

EBearhug Sat 31-Aug-13 12:40:17

I just have to ask, is the last part of your name bum-party or bump-arty? My brain puts the space in a different place every time I read it...

BobbyGentry Sat 31-Aug-13 12:56:57

I read it as sue's-anal-bum-party (well atleast's she's happy) :D

BobbyGentry Sat 31-Aug-13 13:00:19

About work, I would say, follow your instincts and don't undervalue happiness as many times you get more for doing less smile

tribpot Sat 31-Aug-13 13:02:56

So no-one can see Susan Album Party, eh? You lot <shakes head>. wink

Best of luck, OP. I'm in a similar position to you and I wonder if it's our (fabulous) age - you are much less likely to put up with crapola in your 40s, out of a belief that it will some day reap rewards. Find a job that fulfils you.

EBearhug Sat 31-Aug-13 13:43:42

Oh, I thought Susanal was a clever play on words on her name and the changing times of year.

I am clearly too pure and innocent for MN. smile]

BrownSauceSandwich Sat 31-Aug-13 15:10:42

Oh gawd, I saw anal bum party too. I didn't want to ask blush

EBearhug Sat 31-Aug-13 16:23:42

Sorry OP, didn't mean to derail the thread. Hope you're busy working out what you need from a job.

susanalbumparty Sat 31-Aug-13 19:07:03

Hi all - sorry for disappearing. I have been driving from home from a brief trip to see friends who live 6 hours from us GAH!

It's Susan Album Party or Su's Anal Bum Party after Susan Boyle's classic twitter gaff which appealed to my rather puerile sense of humour.

Thanks for additional responses. I am resolved to make the change and to pitch myself as positively as I can in whatever I do next. Now I am home I am going to spend sometime reviewing where I am, pinning down my priorities and tuning up my CV.

I am finding my 40's a weird old time so far. I feel a bit lost to be honest. Crazy hormones, thyroid and I suspect others, have led me a merry dance. DH has a chronic illness which is flaring up more often and making it diificult for him to work. I think that adds to the work pressure and I find it hard to talk to him about my work concerns because he gets upset, feels guilty that he isnt providing (his words not mine!). Anyway, I do believe it will all pass or resolve. Thanks for your support.

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