“I’m not valuable.”

Most of us have that thought, or a variation on it, at some point in our lives. For others, it’s a default feeling and way of life.

If you don’t feel valuable, you might: 

  • Stay at your crappy admin job because you think that’s all you can do
  • Tolerate abuse because you don’t want to lose the good parts of the relationship
  • Live vicariously through your friends, spouse, or kid because you don’t feel entitled to fun experiences
  • Stay silent in meetings because you think your ideas aren’t good enough
  • Make room for other people to have/do what they want at the expense of your health and happiness

If you don’t feel valuable, it not only influences the kind of life and career you have, it impacts what you even attempt to reach for.

So if you don’t feel valuable, how can you start to turn that around?

What To Do When You Don’t Feel Valuable

You will probably not have an overnight revelation that changes this view of yourself. You can work to shift your thoughts, but it’s more important that you start taking small actions that mean “I have value.”

Take Small Actions

What does that look like on a daily basis?

  1. Offering your opinion.
  2. Speaking up in a crowded room.
  3. Sitting in the front row.
  4. Sending your order back when it’s wrong.
  5. Sharing the artwork you keep secret with a friend.
  6. Asking for nice birthday presents.
  7. Being the one to pick the restaurant instead of deferring to your friends.
  8. Taking the time to set the table like company is coming over when it’s just you.
  9. Spending that gift card that’s been in your wallet for 8 months—on yourself.
  10. Saying “thank you” (and just “thank you”) when you get a compliment.
  11. Saying “no” to things you don’t want to do.
  12. Asking for what you need.
  13. Asking for what you just want.

Make a habit of exerting yourself. You can do this without being an a-hole, but give yourself the grace to know that you are finding the line of healthy entitlement and that you might step over the line sometimes. If that happens, you’ll make it better. Sometimes you have to step over the line to find out where it is.

Why It Works

This allows you to build confidence over time. In your career, maybe you don’t leap as far as some people will at first. But you get in a better situation. When that feels normal and safe, you up-level a little more. You can do this at your pace, challenging yourself to identify what you want and need.

Be Prepared for Pushback

Be aware that when you start practicing “I have value” in your daily life, it can upset the people who have benefited from you not valuing yourself. They’ve been getting a pretty good deal, and now you’re changing the rules! So be prepared for a little push-back, and gently keep pushing forward.

What’s ONE action that you can take TODAY that signifies “I have value”?

Laura Simms is an expert in meaningful work who challenges conventional wisdom by asking people to ditch their passions and start with purpose.

If you have too many passions, zero passions, or can't seem to combine your passions, try her purpose-first approach to find a career you love.  


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