What to do When You Feel Lost at Work
We’ve all felt lost at work at some point. Maybe there’s a new project that just doesn’t make sense. Maybe you’ve started doubting yourself after a setback. Or perhaps a boss or co-worker you really liked has moved on.
Feeling like you don’t know what’s going on at work is a terrible feeling. But there are ways you can get back on track.
9 Tips for When You Feel Lost at Work
1. Pause the Panic
When you feel lost at work, you might start to panic. Thoughts such as: What if my boss realizes I don’t know what I’m doing? Will I get fired? may go through your head.
If you find yourself thinking those thoughts, take a few minutes and try to relax. Breath deeply. Step away from your desk if you can. Talk to a co-worker. Usually, these simple actions are enough to stop the thoughts in your head from going out of control.
2. Spotlight Your Successes
Once you’ve stopped your mind from racing, spend a few moments writing down your strengths and the times you’ve been successful at your job. Maybe you gave an excellent presentation to leadership, or you landed an important new client.
Doing this exercise will help remind you that you are a talented and valuable member of your organization.
3. Ask Questions
This might be the most obvious tip on the list. If you’re feeling lost, then ask your boss questions.
We understand that you may feel vulnerable admitting that you’re unsure of what you’re supposed to do. But the vast majority of bosses would rather explain how to do something twice or even three times to make sure their employees are on the right track.
4. Find a Work Buddy
Find a co-worker who has been with the organization longer than you and is open to answering questions from time to time. It’s often easier to go to a co-worker than it is to find your boss who might be in meetings most of the day.
Just try to limit your questions to one or two a day, otherwise your buddy may find that you’re becoming a bit annoying.
5. Set up Regular Meetings with Your Boss
Ask your boss if they’d be open to having regular one-on-one sessions with you. These meetings can be once a month, once a week, or even once a day depending on your needs and schedules.
During these meetings you can talk to your boss about the aspects of the job that still cause confusion on your end. You can ask specific questions about the projects you’re working on. You can show your boss your progress toward meeting certain deadlines.
Having that designated time with your boss where you know your questions will be answered can help reduce the feeling of being lost at work.
6. Seek Out a Mentor
A mentor is someone who you don’t report to, but you meet with on a regular basis to discuss your career. This person is usually older and has a lot of experience at your company or within your industry.
Meetings with a mentor won’t necessarily center around specific projects or job responsibilities. Instead, you can get advice on how to increase your confidence at work, improve relationships with co-workers, get promoted, and much more.
7. Invest in Education
You might feel lost at work because you need to modernize your skill set. Oftentimes, the workplace evolves, and we need to take action to keep up.
It could be as simple as getting trained on new software. You may also be able to fill the skills gap by taking a few courses at a local college.
Your employer may even pay for the classes if you can show how the knowledge gained from these classes will benefit the company.
8. Ask Yourself if You’re Feeling Lost
Check in with yourself. Are you really feeling lost at work? Or is it something else? Maybe you’re actually bored. According to Forbes, up to 53% of employees are bored at work.
When you’re bored with your job, you can easily start feeling adrift in your career and lost at work.
If that’s the case, then search for growth opportunities. Tell your boss that you’re ready to take on more challenging assignments.
Are you particularly good at a specific aspect of your job? Consider volunteering to teach a class to other employees.
Ask if you can spend some time job shadowing a co-worker in an entirely different department than yours. If you’re in accounting, then ask to shadow someone on the social media team. Are you in customer service? Then maybe you’d like to learn what happens on a sales call.
9. Fake It
When all else fails, fake it till you make it. There’s a reason why that’s such a widely known phrase. We all fake it at jobs sometimes because there’s no other option.
Sometimes, you just have to take a deep breath, dive into a project, and do the very best you can. You may knock it out or the park, or you may fail. But in all honesty, you’ll usually land somewhere in the middle.
No matter what the outcome is, you will learn from the experience and do even better the next time.
Find a Solution to Being Lost at Work
It’s definitely not fun to feel lost at work, but it’s something we all experience. The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed and underprepared at work then use these tips to find your footing once again.
If none of these tips are helpful, then it’s probably time to find a new job. Be sure that you have a professionally written resume and LinkedIn profile to make it easy for recruiters to find you.