Dear Uncle Mat

I am sorry about being so vague in this letter, but I think you will understand. I accepted a promotion this spring when we restructured our company. I didn’t have to, but I didn’t want to risk being cut if they decided my old job didn’t fit into the new corporate structure. The new job includes a lot of new responsibilities that I am to take on, incrementally, over the next several months.

My problem is that I am not good at my new job. I am already overwhelmed, and operating at only 60 or 70 percent of my expected capacity. I am afraid I have really screwed this up. I like my company, and made this move because I hope to work here a long time. Now I have a performance review coming up next month, and I am scared that I could lose my job. I know I will definitely be in trouble and placed on probation for a followup review in another 30 days.

I have no idea what to do. My anxiety level is through the roof, and I know that it shows at work and in my personal life. I can tell that my bosses are not impressed with my performance, though they are still being supportive and nice. I am having trouble sleeping and eating. I definitely look forward to happy hour on Fridays like never before. My financial situation is pretty good and I have some money in the bank if I do get fired, but I really don’t want to have to look for a job. What should I do? My old job just doesn’t exist anymore.


In over my head

Dear in over your head,

That wasn’t so vague, but don’t be such a baby. There are reasons babies don’t have jobs. Displaying a lack of confidence is not going to help this situation. Which leads to my first piece of advice: Pick your attitude up out of the garbage, and dust yourself off. Life is hard, but you are more than capable of succeeding. Believe in yourself. You were offered the promotion for a reason.

A friend of mine likes to point out that when he thinks his boss is mad at him, he isn’t actually psychic, so it’s just an assumption. His solution is to check his point of view and, if necessary, ask. Since none of your bosses are riding your ass, don’t assume they are disappointed. I’m not saying they aren’t reacting to your display of stress on the job. They may think highly of your performance, but also feel concern for your wellbeing, since the new position carries so much more responsibility.

You need to find an outlet for the stress and anxiety. This will help your mental and emotional state, and likely will make you more capable of the tasks you’re struggling with at work. Take care of yourself. Happy hour on Friday is great, but what about Saturday through Thursday? Yoga, running, biking, and/or working out can all help. Exercise will also help your appetite and sleep problems.

You can’t have your old job back, but you can talk to your boss about your new job. Don’t go into his or her office crying and whining; approach the subject in a proactive and positive manner. Speak with whichever boss is your direcct supervisor, or who is most responsive to you in the office. Let him or her know what you are confident about in your job. Then explain your concerns about the parts of your job you are struggling to perform. Ask for some guidance. It’s OK to point out a problem, if you are willing to be a part of the solution. Your position is new, so there yet may be some flexibility in your company’s structure. You may just be missing a piece of the puzzle that will help you pull everything together.

It’s OK to get in over your head sometimes. Risks and hard work at the right time can help us break old, limiting assumptions about ourselves and reveal who we are capable of becoming.

Much love; now go kick some ass,
Your Uncle Mat

Uncle Mat answers questions about relationships, sex, pets and art. Email him at [email protected],, or check out the Dear Uncle Mat Page on Facebook. Your true identity is safe with him.

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