Feeling Defeated by the Mistakes from My Last Job


Feeling Defeated by the Mistakes from My Last Job


Original Letter

I will be starting a new job in about 3 weeks. I had a baby about 4 months ago and had a lot of trouble at my current job of 6 years during my pregnancy. My job is to provide analytic and financial support to a remote field sales team, and I got a new boss early in my pregnancy. He was very critical of my work, and instead of being proactive and working with him to correct things, I kind of shut down. Morning sickness, exhaustion from the pregnancy and a grueling travel schedule, and the emotional ups and downs of pregnancy didn’t help. (It also didn’t help that my boss regularly skipped meetings I had scheduled with him to better understand his needs, and refused my requests to do work-withs to improve my performance, but I believe that I could have been more persistent and been more coachable).

I returned to my current job about a month ago, and my boss continued to criticize my work, so I decided to take a new job, as I cannot risk getting fired and losing our health insurance due to the new baby. My husband works part time and is the baby’s primary caregiver… he’s emotionally supportive but doesn’t earn enough for us to live on, or get health insurance. I need to accept and move on from the fact that I screwed up at my old job, learn from that mistake and have the confidence and poise to do better at my new job (essentially the same job at another company).

Right now, I’m feeling like a failure for not sticking it out at the job I’m leaving, and I’m worried that if I don’t rebuild my confidence quickly, the same thing will happen at my new job. How can I move forward with confidence and poise, and keep the destructive bad feelings, doubt, and low self-esteem at bay?

Elder Response

I think you have a very good handle on how your approach to your previous job was less than satisfactory to you.  You made positive steps to deal with the situation and accept a new job.  You also have a good idea what it will take for you to succeed in the new job.   I’d say while you have not done everything right, you are doing the majority of things right.  So my first piece of advice to you, K, is to ease up on yourself a bit.  Keep in mind that no one is perfect. Striving for perfection will leave you frustrated and may have consequences opposed to what you are trying to achieve. Instead, go with your gut feeling that you have learned from your mistake and continue to move forward.

Do some mental imaging. Watch others who appear self-assured and make notes about what makes them seem that way. It may be the way they walk or stand up straight or the fact that they look people in the eye as they hold a conversation.  See from your notes what might feel confortable for you and imagine yourself being confident.  Remember, however, that while I am pointing you toward models of confidence, it is still important to be yourself.  Stress your own combination of your values, life experiences, and personality.

Be sure to emphasize the skill of patience.  A person who is poised rarely loses her cool.  When something happens that threatens to ruin your day, how you handle the situation determines how poised you are.   So be patient, and also be patient with others who haven’t yet mastered these important skills.

Pay more attention to listening than you do talking. People will react positively when you listen closely, pay attention to what they say, and show that you are completely engaged as they speak.

You are well on your way to success.  Be positive, go easy on yourself and work on some of the skills I have mentioned to become more confident and poised.

Good luck!


Best Regards,


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