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home : columns : dear harriette January 25, 2020

10/28/2019 7:55:00 AM
Formerly successful woman feels like a failure

DEAR HARRIETTE: I used to be well-known back in the day when I was at the top of my career. Now I can barely make ends meet. I feel like such a failure.

I am embarrassed to ask for help. I was a celebrity in my hometown, but now I am nothing -- just a woman with a reputation of what I used to be but with nothing going for me now. How can I turn the page and change how I'm thinking so that I can have the courage to go out and get a job? I would do just about anything right now. I do not want to lose my apartment. -- What To Do?

DEAR WHAT TO DO?: Let go of the past and how you were once regarded. Evaluate your skill set. What are you good at doing? Think of specific skills and talents that you have. Now consider what it was about you that made you the local "celebrity."

Are you good with people? Could you be a successful hostess at a restaurant? A group leader at a retirement home? What about a sales role in the elder space? In this case, you may be able to use your local celebrity to inspire people to trust you and, in turn, buy in to a condo community for seniors or another such environment. I mention the senior space because it is a growing demographic, and there's a good chance that this group of people may remember you fondly and feel comforted by your presence as they figure out this stage in their lives.

Most important is for you to believe that you are still a valuable member of society. Through that lens, look for a job that will pay you a fair wage and help you to be secure in your home.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I got my annual performance review, and it was not good. I knew that this past year was rough for me. We had a couple of new projects that I was assigned to manage, and they didn't go well.

My boss said that we need to set some markers for getting on track so that we can see if I am able to stay in my job. He didn't say it exactly like that, but it felt like a warning. The evaluation was clear and direct. I did not get fired, but I feel like I was punched in the gut. I took in all of the criticism and stated my case when it seemed appropriate. I can't even say the criticism was wrong. Now I'm not sure what to do. The bar is set really high for me to recover. What if I can't do it? -- Doubting Myself

DEAR DOUBTING MYSELF: Now is your opportunity to turn things around for yourself at your job. First, spend some time reviewing your notes from your evaluation. Pay attention to each detail and request so that you are clear about what you need to do to reach the goals that have been set for you. Consider how you will go about tackling each concern.

Request a follow-up meeting with your boss. In this meeting, ask for the opportunity to work closely with him to reach the agreed-upon goals. If you become proactive, including asking for support, your self-doubt may diminish. You have a chance to fix your mistakes. Stay focused on that.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

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