You can overcome self-doubt and knowledge deficiencies to increase earnings by designing a job that fits your unique mix of talents and abilities.

All of us have a unique set of knowledge and experiences. In modern regimented business models it is common to attempt to place people into jobs that don’t suite them with the result that some workers are forced into jobs where they do not fit. While specialized training is necessary to function in almost any part of today’s economy, the benefits may be relatively short-term, as one technology is replace by another within a few years.

The human animal is a complex being that was designed by evolution to respond to unpredictable life situations. Just as early man might have had to run, climb or swim to escape predators, today’s workers must be able, and willing, to change working methods, ideas and sometimes jobs to earn higher salaries. While human resources departments strive to foresee demands for different types of workers, they are often caught up in the minutia of payroll, health insurance and complying with State and Federal regulations with the result that HR departments do not take time to define how their work force needs to evolve.

This type of forward thinking is best done by workers who can have experienced both the advantages and shortcomings of the new system, product, production method or ad campaign and can conceive of ways to improve it. If a worker has a vision of some improved method and keeps it to himself, he is depriving himself of a potential advancement opportunity. Once the concept is fully developed, it becomes possible for the worker to design is own job and move up a higher-paying position, depending on the value of his concept.

Mental blocks to advancement

A. The belief that a person can do only one set of things is a holdover from the Medieval Guild system that was transferred to Union Shops. Most corporate and work organizational structures reinforce this mental trap. This was not true at its inception and is not true now. People can learn more than one thing and, in fact, take on multiple professions at once. A physician may also be a novelist, a baker might be a week-end comedian or a physicists a graphic designer. The skill-set paring might be even closer linked with the designer also being a machinist who can not only conceive of his creation, but actually build it. The combination of designer-marketer is particularly powerful. Individuals have unique sets of skills that often express themselves in different directions. If a worker can take some unexpected combinations of skills and turn that into a job description, that worker can sometimes design his job. If he can sell this concept to his present company or another company, he has invented his own job that uses his particular skill set and vision. If his pitch fails, he can use this concept to start his own company.

B. It is not necessary that a worker immediately have all of the skills that his new job logically requires if they can be obtained through outside courses or work experience. Extra trainings and use of other people can help you overcome any feelings of inadequacy and shortfalls in knowledge. Another alternative is to add people to your team that fill knowledge and experience gaps. We are all differently gifted and afflicted. Just as if you were starting a new business, plan to gather people as and when you need them to complete your vision of what this new job is to be and how it will work. In modern corporations mentorships and advocates are vital for selling any new position. The general premise is that if a company is going to advance, new concepts received from a broader demographic are vial for future success. In your case, you are presenting a new approach that has the advantage of being generated by someone already in the company that 1. Can be implemented faster, and 2. Can be started with less costs and disruption than bringing in outside talent. These are powerful genetic arguments for supporting your new job, and that you are the person to fill that need.

C. The psychological lingering, “I can’t do this,” running around in the back of your mind must be replaced with a definitive; “I CAN do this.” All of these “I can’ts,” are a result of being rejected many times in your life for reasons that are often unrelated to what you do at work. It is easy for an outsider to say, “Get rid of all this excess mental crap and move on.” The reality is that these issues can persist for decades. If they can be recognized for what they are and how they were derived, then they can be dealt with in a more realistic manner. Any therapist would advise to identify the issues so they can be recognized when they appear for the unnecessary distractions that they are, and move things in a more positive direction for accomplishing your goals.

Become confident that you have the tools, will and abilities to succeed in life and business by documenting your progress through trainings, certifications, taking on smaller tasks and accomplishing them and ultimately you will have the confidence that you need to design your own job and promote it to your company’s management or perhaps even start your own business. You can gain confidence by starting mini-businesses and making a success of them. You will have little personal risk, gain experience, increase your confidence and learn from each new venture. Even if some of them should fail, this is not an unusual event; but is another life experience to be learned from. Almost every business person will tell you that some of the most meaningful parts of their business education were learned from their failures. To have a business that failed is part of the learning process.

These are a few points explored in more depth in my most recent business book, “Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business at Midlife” which is available on and other book outlets. I will also be giving a free two-hour lecture on March 15 in Augusta, Georgia, at Music Room B of the Salvation Army HQ at 1833 Broad Street. Create Your Own Job starts at 7:00 PM and ends at 9:00 PM. Although the event is free, seating is limited. To receive announcements about this and other events send me an e-mail to If you wish me to appear at your event, you may correspond with me at the same address.

Author's Bio: 

Wm. Hovey Smith is a registered Professional Geologist in Georgia. He is also a member of several writers’ organizations including the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) and the Georgia Outdoor Writers Association (GOWA). He is the author of 18 books with his most recent title being “Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business at Midlife.” He has been a radio host and does public speaking on work and environmental topics with appearances in the U.S., Europe and China. He is an active blogger and the producer of over 725 YouTube videos on outdoor and business topics.