No matter what type of work you’re in, whether you’re employed or self-employed, I think all of us know how it feels to lack confidence at work. We question ourselves constantly, our inner critic tells us we’re not good enough, perhaps we work all the hours under the sun to try and feel good enough.
This lack of confidence can eat away at us, opening up old wounds and affecting our mental health. This is the very reason I’m so passionate about building confidence, it has a ripple effect. When we feel confident in our abilities at work, we trust in our own decisions. We’re more productive, we feel calmer and better able to handle whatever’s thrown our way.
Today I wanted to share some steps that I believe can help us build confidence when it comes to work. Confidence building takes time and repetition, but the reward is so worth the work.
Understanding what may be at the root of your low confidence can often be a helpful place to start. Think about previous work experiences you’ve had, have you had managers in the past who criticised you or made you feel like you weren’t good enough? Does it go deeper or further back than that?
This kind of work may be helpful to do with the support of a counsellor, if that feels like an option for you. In some cases though, just acknowledging and understanding the roots of your low confidence and the impact past experiences have had can help.
Challenge your thoughts
This is a habit more of us should get into; challenge your thoughts. It’s very easy for us to accept our thoughts as truth, but this is often not the case. When negative thoughts about work come up, try to pick fact from fiction. Ask yourself, what’s the evidence?
After challenging your thought, try to come up with an alternative narrative such as ‘I’m still learning’ or ‘I’m doing the best I can’. To help with this step and to become better at noticing your thoughts, you may want to increase your self-awareness. Tools that can support here include journaling, meditation and mindfulness.
Ask for the support you need
Even if you work for yourself, you don’t have to go it alone. Lean on your support system and ask for what you need. If you have a manager, ask for support/guidance or ask about additional training to help increase your confidence. If you have colleagues, talk it out with them. Saying how we feel out loud can help us untangle thoughts and gain clarity.
If you’re self-employed, talk to other self-employed people. Reach out on Instagram or join a Facebook group. Find a mentor or start working with a coach to give you some guidance and accountability. By asking for what we need, we take back control.
Set yourself small challenges
Pushing ourselves gently through small challenges is how we build our confidence. The key is for the challenges to feel scary but manageable and to take breaks in-between so you don’t get overwhelmed. Some examples of challenges you could set yourself include:
- sharing your opinion in a meeting
- offering a different point of view online
- taking the first step in that project you’re having a wobble about
- publishing that blog post that’s been sitting in drafts for months
- Putting yourself forward for that opportunity that feels too big for you
Take some time to visualise it going well and the effect this will have on your confidence. Then think about what the worst case scenario would be. Often this helps you realise that you would survive, you would pick yourself up and move on.
Reflect on past successes
If you’re struggling with setting yourself some challenges, think back to when you have felt confident at work. Look back at past successes and times when you really felt in flow. How can you recreate that feeling?
In a meditation session with a work colleague (back before we were in lockdown) she prompted us to visualise ourselves as our most confident selves, noting our posture and what we were wearing. Interestingly I saw myself as I was when I spoke on a panel at Live Well London, the same outfit, the same red lip. I remembered how I felt when I was speaking (calm, confident and surprisingly at ease) and now I feel I have a confident Kat persona to recall when I’m not feeling quite so capable.
Recognise and celebrate your wins
You’ve heard me talk about it before, but because of our brain’s negativity bias we have to be really intentional about recognising when we’ve done something well. There are a couple of ways to do this, you can make a note of what you’ve done well as part of your journaling practice, or set up a self-belief evidence bank to look back on.
When it comes to planning and goal setting, I follow Josephine Brooks’ 12 week planning system where you set three goals each quarter. She really encourages you to plan a reward for yourself at the end of the quarter which is a lovely way to recognise and celebrate your achievements.
See the bigger picture
It’s easy to get consumed by work. I think especially at the moment when we’re all working at home, some of us away from our colleagues and teammates. It seems to magnify feelings and we’re left alone to stew in our own negative thought spirals.
If you find yourself spiralling, try to step away – physically if possible. Try to see the bigger picture and remember that work is not all that you are. Rekindle some old hobbies, spend time focusing on yourself, not work. Connect with loved ones, find a funny film to laugh at, try to lighten your mood and remind yourself that work is not the be-all and end-all.
I hope these pointers help if you’re struggling with your confidence at work and remember my grow: confidence coaching package is designed to support anyone struggling with confidence in a specific area. We’ll have a one-off call to go through what you’re struggling with and I’ll give you practical tools and techniques to help you grow confidence in that area. Find out more and book your session through my coaching page.
I’ll be back next week with a podcast on all things comparison and an ode to baths here on the blog. Until then, take care.
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