How do I get my confidence back?
May 31, 2012 12:51 AM Subscribe
I've lost all confidence in my (work) abilities. What can I do to get it back?
posted by gadha to work & money (16 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I do research in practical, applied computer science. Two incident in the last month have had me loose all abilities in myself and I am fighting the urge to drop out of the discipline.
In the first incident I was carrying out a design for an application using a certain data structure and had spent about a month on it before a colleague challenged me and I realised I was using the absolutely wrong approach. What destroyed me about this is that it's a fairly basic mistake that I made and hadn't realised. This really shook me to the core. In the end I had to throw away the design and start from scratch.
In the second incident I realised last week that a patch I sent out to a very popular open-source program a few months ago was poorly coded as it had redundant code and was much more inefficient than it needed to be. The mistake was the kind you'd expect an untalented undergraduate to make.
Throughout my career in research I've struggled with the research side as it doesn't come naturally to me. I'd provide myself solace with the thought that I was a decent engineer and could probably leave and go find a job in industry. However these incidents coupled with the fact that I've realised I haven't been doing very technical (hands on) work for the last two years (I mostly lead students and do design and analysis work) means that I've lost all faith in my ability as an individual. I'm plagued with the thought that I'm neither good at the research nor the technical.
This has led to an ever deepening spiral of self-doubt, comparison with others, general questioning of ability etc. I'm having trouble sleeping, I spend my waking hours in an anxiety heightened state feeling miserable and uncomfortable and I don't feel like socialising or doing anything. I tried to make a proactive response by tackling some hands-on technical work but my state of mind means I'm not getting things done and this is leading to a negative feedback loop.
I'm looking for some advice on how to snap out of this before it actually ends up in me spiralling out of a job. Any advice appreciated.