We all go through times in life where we feel like we’re not good at anything.
It’s natural, but what happens if it starts to be the norm, and suddenly you find yourself wallowing in a pit of misery and despair because you can’t get your life together?
If this sounds like you, you’re in the right place.
The first step to getting out of this negative funk is to acknowledge why you’re feeling that way, and then start making positive changes to your lifestyle and mindset.
Read on to find out possible reasons why you’ve got to this place in your life, and then check out 22 tips for finding out what you’re good at.
Why do I feel like I’m not good at anything?
There are a few different reasons why people feel like they suck at everything. From having overly critical parents as a child or from simply being lazy, the range is wide.
Here are a few possibilities, and you might find that you fall into one category or have traits from a few.
1) It’s an excuse
As blunt as this first point might be, are you simply using this as an excuse?
If so, you’re not alone and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. But it is something which needs to change.
Whether you’re fearful of pursuing your dreams, or you’re used to taking the easy route and not chasing your goals, using the excuse of ‘not being good at anything’ isn’t going to get you very far.
2) Your inner critic is in charge
Your inner critic is that little voice of doom that pops up whenever you feel unsure about something.
Its sole purpose is to hold you back and make you feel worthless.
If you always listen to your inner critical voice, you’ll soon lose touch with who you really are and how you truly perceive yourself.
It’ll become normal to see everything negatively and to hold back from trying new things in life.
3) Social pressure
With an overload of information from the media, distractions, and unrealistic expectations from social media and governmental systems in place which tells us how we “should” be living our lives, it’s no wonder you might feel rubbish at everything.
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There’s not a lot of room for being creative and designing a life which suits you, so you can easily start to doubt your worth.
Being expected to have a steady career by 24 and kids and marriage by 30 may be adding pressure on which takes away from what you enjoy and want to do with your life.
4) You haven’t actively looked at your skills
Have you stopped to evaluate all the skills you have? Or do you think you’re not good at anything simply because you don’t like your skills?
For example, you’re having a hard time at work and you’ve started doubting whether you’re good at it or not.
When you do that, are you taking into account all of the things you’ve done well? Are you balancing your failures with all your successes?
It can be easy to overlook the things we don’t want to see because sometimes wallowing in despair feels easier, but it’s not the right path to take if you want to achieve your goals.
5) You’re suffering from Imposter Syndrome
When you think of things which you’ve achieved in the past, do you remember them fondly and proudly, or do you dismiss them and deny that you were worthy of the achievement?
If it’s the latter, you could be dealing with “Imposter Syndrome“.
“Imposter syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success.”
This condition affects many people, and it’s completely irrational.
Instead of seeing your achievements for what they are – hard work which is worth celebrating, you see yourself almost as a fraud.
You dismiss that you were good at something, and instead downplay the achievement.
Imposter Syndrome can hold you back from reaching your goals, and it can certainly stop you from thinking you’re good at anything.
Here are a few things you can do to overcome Imposter Syndrome:
- Be open about your feelings and talk about them
- Recognize your imposter feelings and record them down
- Keep things in perspective and remember that having some doubts are normal
- Try to change the way you see failure and success ( view it all as a learning curve rather than the be-all and end-all of life)
- Seek professional help
Whichever point resonated with you, it’s good to keep reminding yourself that you may have been a victim to one of these points up until now, but you can’t keep allowing yourself to remain in this negative frame of mind.
And by now, you’re probably eager to know what you can do to turn things around, so read on to find out simple changes that could change your life.
22 tips to find what you’re good at
1) Take responsibility for your life
You haven’t chosen to feel so negatively about yourself, but you can choose whether you continue to wallow in self-pity or pull yourself out of the trenches.
You, at some point, have to accept that being good at things will only happen once you start taking responsibility for yourself.
You have to find the motivation, you have to work hard on your skills and you have to fight back against negativity.
When you stop looking to others for help, and start being accountable for your successes, failures, and everything in between, you can then begin making real changes to your life.
2) Focus on what you care about
There’ll be some skills you have which you don’t enjoy, so you tend to overlook them.
But there’ll also be natural skills which come out when you do things you enjoy or care about.
And there’s a link between liking your job and doing well at it:
“Passion not only drives you to enjoy your work but helps in overcoming obstacles in the workplace as well. Anytime you hit a bump in the road or begin to doubt your abilities, remember the positive effects of the work you are doing.”
So maybe the first step to discovering what you’re good at actually lies with what you like to do the most.
From there, you can start exploring ways in which you can build your skills and potentially make a career out of your passion.
3) Think outside the box
Have you ever stopped to think about doing things differently?
Maybe the conventional way of going to school, graduating, and getting a full-time job just isn’t for you.
Take it from me, the system doesn’t work for everyone.
Maybe your talents and skills can be found elsewhere, and you won’t realize them until you stop following the masses and branch out a little bit.
Maybe you have to choose a different path to unlock the things you’re good at.
I struggled with the 9-5 prescribed lifestyle, so I made the change to become a freelancer.
Just by changing my routine and having more control over my life, I started being able to explore new ways of working and living. Now it feels like the possibilities are endless.
So whether you need a complete change or just a few adjustments, thinking outside the box could help you realize your full potential.
4) Don’t let your thoughts get in the way
“I think I could be good at playing the guitar.”
“But on second thoughts, I’ve not practiced much and I doubt I’ll ever get far with it.”
We’ve all had conversations similar to this with ourselves. It’s hard to stop the voice of negativity from creeping in, but sometimes you have to stand up to yourself.
If you enjoy something, and you think you could (or already are) good at it, don’t let that niggly voice in the back of your mind hold you back.
One way to combat this is to say these comments out loud. Say it to yourself in the mirror.
The more you hear yourself saying these self-limiting thoughts, the sillier you’ll find it and you’ll start to recognize that it’s just insecurities that are holding you back.
5) Limit your social media use
Social media can be a great tool for discovering new things, but it can also be a major distraction.
One reason why I limit my social media use is that I found I was so busy watching other people live their lives, that I often forgot to live mine.
And seeing so many “influencers” who only show the good parts of their success without all the sweat, blood, and tears that went into their fame can be misleading.
The final reason why social media might be holding you back is that you’re constantly comparing yourself to people you see online.
Once you limit your interaction with it, you start seeing your life for what it is, and not what it ‘should’ look like according to Instagram.
6) Don’t overpressure yourself
There’s no rush to find out what you’re good at.
Of course, it’s natural to feel impatient and want to know immediately where your skills lie, but you could be stressing yourself out.
By putting yourself through all the pressure of finding your skills, you may be distracting yourself even more and doing the opposite of what you hope to achieve.
Trust in your journey and take things one step at a time.
Keeping a clear mind, your emotions stable and a plan in mind, you can slowly start discovering your abilities and enjoy the process as it unfolds.
7) Put in the time and effort
There are no two ways around this one.
To find out what you’re good at, you need to put in the time and effort.
As much as you might hope for it, the inspiration and motivation aren’t going to conveniently fall into your lap.
And people who are good at things will usually have spent many months and years honing their skills and improving them.
It’s not realistic to think you can be good at something without putting in some dedication and commitment.
When I first became a teacher, I often doubted whether I was any good at it. In the first year of my career, I was constantly filled with doubts.
But, I noticed that when I worked hard for certain lessons and prepared myself well, it went much better than the days where I didn’t put as much effort in.
In the end, just ‘hoping and wishing’ to be a good teacher didn’t get me anywhere. Putting in the hard graft and dedicating hours of my day to improving my skills is what gave me that sense of achievement.
8) Get creative
Getting creative can get your blood pumping and energize you.
Whether you’re the next Mozart or Picasso or not doesn’t matter, being creative is subjective and there’s no right or wrong.
So technically, you can’t be bad at it.
It’s also a great way to start seeing life from different angles. Instead of just going along with what you’ve been taught to do, creativity allows you to break free of those restraints.
You might even start to see your skills and talents in a different light, all because your mind has been opened creatively.
9) Ask your family and friends
Asking your family and friends about what they think you’re good at is a great way to gain new perspectives on your skills.
These are the people who know you the best, and they’ll have seen you progress and develop in life.
Ask a couple of your closest friends or family, and even a colleague or two what they think you’re good at.
Take note of their ideas, and instead of instantly dismissing their suggestions, mull them over and keep coming back to them.
10) Be your biggest supporter
Just as you would support your friends in their life choices, do the same with yourself.
Don’t wait for others to applaud your efforts or hard work, be your number one fan.
It might sound silly, but we’re each walking our journey. Only you know how much you want to achieve things in life, so you need to be your biggest supporter.
When you think that you aren’t good at anything, imagine a friend saying the same thing to you about themselves. You wouldn’t agree with them and confirm that they’re bad at everything.
So why do you do it to yourself?
Support and celebrate yourself the same way you would a friend. You’ll be surprised at how much you start to feel better about yourself and you’ll begin to build a healthier relationship with yourself.
11) Focus on what you do have, not what you don’t have
Instead of focusing on what you’re not good at, or what you lack in life, focus on what you do have.
If you have a roof over your head, family/friends around, and good health, you’re already better off than many people in the world.
If you had a decent education and acquired some skills at school, you’re already ahead.
Sometimes all you need is to get back in touch with reality and appreciate what you have and all the opportunities life has presented you with.
This can change your mindset from feeling like the victim to being appreciative and motivated to work even harder with what you do have.
12) Find a career coach
If you’re truly stuck and can’t think of anything you’re good at career-wise, try using a career coach.
They can help you work out your different strengths and then put them to use.
Ultimately, the hard work must still come from you – a career coach isn’t a quick fix.
But they can guide you and highlight your skills, whilst helping you make a plan of action.
And, it doesn’t matter whether you think you’re good at anything or not, because a career coach’s job is to uncover your abilities and help you become more confident in those areas.
13) Dial down the inner critic
Your inner critic has a profound impact on how you view yourself.
We all have one, and everyone can fall victim to their inner critic from time to time.
The danger is when your inner critic is all you listen to. It’s designed to fill you with doubt and tell you that you aren’t good enough.
But you can choose how much you listen to your inner critic, and you can even choose to talk back to it and stand up for yourself.
There are many opportunities that people let slip because they believed what their inner critic tells them, so don’t let yours hold you back.
14) Start getting involved in different things
Sometimes it might just be a case of not coming across things that you’re good at.
Think of all the hundreds of different things you could do, do you know all the professions and hobbies out there?
Chances are, probably not.
So, push yourself into trying new things, even if you’re not sure if you like them or not.
It’s only by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone that you can explore all the possibilities that you never would have normally considered.
Whether it’s volunteering in your community or joining a dance class, the more you get out there the more chances you have of finding things that you’re good at.
15) Show up, every day
By showing up and doing your best every day, you’re already doing more than most people do.
Whether it’s for your career, for your family, or your hobbies, showing up is the first step in making a change and improving yourself.
Every time you show up to create a new habit, you cast a vote towards your identity and who you want to be. For example, if you want to grow your business, every time you send an email or make a call, you vote towards becoming a better businessperson.
Finding what you’re good at doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time and commitment. It takes perseverance.
And if you’re not showing up, how will you ever discover your true potential and skills in life?
16) Start forming good habits
When was the last time you checked your lifestyle?
Do you have healthy habits that promote a productive lifestyle?
If not, start by slowly implementing some of these suggestions into your daily routine:
- Get into the habit of reading, even just a couple of pages a day
- Get a good amount of sleep so you’re motivated during the day
- Watch and learn from people who inspire you
- Set yourself goals and put plans of action in place to help you reach those goals
Getting into good habits will help you keep a clear mind, you’ll remain focused on what’s important and have less time to spend dwelling on the negatives.
17) Stop striving for perfection
We’re told we’ve got to be the best.
If you want that high flying job, you’ve got to get top marks in all your exams.
But striving for perfection can make you lose sight of what it is you want and enjoy.
It can sometimes kill the very same passion and motivation which first led you down that path.
Goodtherapy describes how perfectionism can hold you back from finding success:
“Perfectionism is often seen as a positive trait that increases your chances of success, but it can lead to self-defeating thoughts or behaviors that make it harder to achieve goals. It may also cause stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.”
So instead of trying to find something to be perfect in, try just being ‘good’ at something first.
Practice your skills, work hard at them, and over time you’ll build up the expertise that you need to succeed, without the pressure of being ‘perfect’.
18) Build on your skills
It’s pretty much impossible to not have any skills.
There’ll be things that you’re also good at, even without you realizing it.
Maybe as a kid, you were good at building things from scrap.
Or as a teen, you had great listening skills and were always there to be a listening ear for others.
Think about these skills and see if you can keep building on them.
You never know, you might find a career path or a passion which you had long forgotten about.
19) Ignore what society tells you
Society makes it very difficult to keep up.
On one hand, you’re told to follow your passion, but on the other hand, you need to get a 9-5 job just to pay the bills.
Women are expected to still be domestic and raise children yet also be independent and work full time.
So much of what society tells us we need to do goes against what we feel inside.
So with that in mind – reject what society tells you to do.
Create the life you want, be good at the things you enjoy, and live in a way that fulfills you.
20) Separate fact from opinion
How much of what you’re telling yourself is a fact, and how much of it is your opinion?
Fact: I failed an exam
Opinion: I must be crap at everything
See how the opinion doesn’t justify anything, it’s merely your negative thoughts.
Learn to separate the two. See things for what they are, not how you’re imagining them to be.
You failed the exam, but that doesn’t mean you’re crap at everything. It was one exam, and you need to keep that in perspective.
Otherwise, it’s easy to fall into the downward spiral of thinking negatively about yourself, even without any valid reason to do so.
21) Quit comparing yourself to others
Comparing yourself to others is probably one of the most damaging things you can do.
We’re all living our lives, following our journeys and once you start looking at someone else’s journey, you’re not focussing on your own anymore.
We all get to where we need to be in our own time.
Some people find the career of their life in their 40’s, others at 25.
Some people have kids at 20 and others at 35.
The point is, looking at what everyone else is doing does ZERO in getting you to where you want to be.
It encourages self-doubt and adds unnecessary pressure to your life.
So the next time you find yourself comparing your life to someone else’s, remind yourself that they’re on their path, and you’re on yours.
22) Be honest with yourself
If you honestly want to make a change and stop this negative narrative of not being good at anything, you have to be honest with yourself.
What is holding you back? Is there anything you’re doing that is continuing this negative cycle?
Reflect on your behavior, how you react to tough times in life, and whether you’ve truly put in all your efforts into being good at something.
The truth hurts, and you probably won’t like admitting certain things to yourself, but it’s so necessary if you want to change.
Nobody is born being good at things, we all have to learn and practice our skills. Even the most talented painter or singer had to spend hours upon hours on their craft.
When it comes to the tips above, start by making small, slow changes to your lifestyle, and over time, you’ll begin to see just how many skills you do have.
The real question is – are you ready to discover your true potential? Or are you going to let old habits and negative thoughts hold you back?
The answer lies with you.