Help! I Don’t Know How to Do My Job


Extended Education Courses for Dealing with Job Anxiety image

CC Image Courtesy of Kreg Steppe on Flickr

We’ve all dealt with fear and anxiety surrounding our work. Whether you’ve just finished the job search and landed a new job or are simply dealing with additional responsibilities of your current role, you may be experiencing feelings of ineptitude. Fear not! There are lots of ways to deal when you don’t know how to do your job and you’re feeling out of your league.


This old adage holds more weight than you might think. Negativity Bias (described by PhD Rick Hanson of the Huffington Post as, “overestimating threats, underestimating opportunities, and underestimating resources”) is part of the genetic programming that allowed humans to survive danger and make the most of opportunity. It’s responsible for the focus we place on, as Hanson puts it, “the one thing that was negative in a day in which a hundred small things happened, ninety-nine of which were neutral or positive.”

Aside from compromising the immune and nervous systems, this tendency to emphasize the negative can impact our job performance. Painful continued experiences of this kind can:

  • Increase pessimism, anxiety, and irritability.
  • Lower your mood.
  • Reduce ambition and positive risk-taking.

In order to retain the bellyfire and forward thinking that likely landed you your awesome job in the first place, it’s important to be mindful of hyper-negative views, have a positive mindset, and give yourself credit where credit is due.


When we flub (which we all inevitably do), there is often an urge to sweep our mistakes under the rug—hoping that they’ll squeak by unnoticed. Likewise, it’s easy to try and explain away responsibility. You may even be tempted to throw someone else under the bus. But none of these approaches will earn you respect—and they certainly won’t help you be better at your job.

Even worse, you’ll spend time and energy agonizing over how and when your mistakes may be found out, or what the fallout will be—instead of focusing on what you need to get done.

Forbes suggests we face our slip-ups and concerns head on:

“Talk to someone, your boss, your mentor or a peer to get information that will quell your fears. Or fess up and find out immediately what repercussions are headed your way for the screw-up so you’re not worried about the unknowns.”

You’ll sleep better, and you’ll be esteemed for dealing with things in a forthright manner.


Now that you’ve owned up, make your actions speak for you. Take immediate steps to ensure that whatever caused the problem doesn’t happen again.

And don’t dwell on the past. CNN shared the story of James Theodorou, a platesetter for a prestigious U.S. magazine who accidentally printed 4 million copies with the wrong date on the cover (ouch!).

“Since his first public gaffe, Theodorou had no choice but to try to do better on the next issue of the magazine. He slowed down and went over his work again carefully. He made a checklist and had another technician perform a quality control inspection before starting the four-hour process of printing the covers. ‘It only added about 15 minutes to the job, but they were a well-spent 15 minutes,’ he said.”

Mistakes happen—but they’re not all bad. Although they’re painful and embarrassing, they can help us find solutions, increase productivity, and develop more effective strategies.


If you’re genuinely lacking the know-how or skills to do your work well, arm yourself with some knowledge. You don’t have to quit your job, change your career path, or even go back to school. The whole of human wisdom (and Keyboard Cat) is here on the web, for us to benefit from. Need to learn about Adwords? Google has great tutorials that are simple and easy to understand. If you can find a Youtube tutorial on how to remove sock lint from your Jordans (and you can), believe that there are resources to help you do your job.

Of course, more in-depth education may be required—but alternative learning models make this more accessible every day. Looking to become a Product Management wiz? Try a concentrated 10-week Product Management course with GA and elevate your skillset in less time than it takes to grow out a bad haircut.

Your ability isn’t static—it grows and changes at whatever pace you determine. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take some time to decide how you can become empowered again. Then go out, and make it all happen. You’ll be glad you did.

Looking to expand your skillset? Check out our course offerings and take control of your future.