By Liz Ryan
I love your career advice. I get a lot out of reading your columns, but I don’t have the courage to try your suggestions myself.
Your recommendations are great, but they almost always seem to require more confidence than I currently have. I’m starting to realize that I have a confidence problem.
I’ve only worked for one company (my current employer) so far. I haven’t been mistreated here but I haven’t been praised or acknowledged for my work, either. It’s an ordinary job. I am no one special to my boss. We have no relationship at all. She barely knows I exist. I’m not learning anything new.
There’s no career path in my current job, either. I want to look for something better but I just don’t know if I have the confidence to go out and rock the job market the way you advise us to.
What should I do?
You are not alone! Many working people feel the same way you do.
The good news is that you have already crossed the biggest hurdle to boosting your confidence. You overcame the first and biggest obstacle to becoming more confident when you said to yourself “I have a confidence problem.”
Before you reached that point, you probably said “This job is okay — I can live with it” a thousand times. That’s what everyone does — right up to the day they wake up and say “I deserve better than this!”
So, congratulations to you — you are already on your way to a more confident version of yourself in 2018!
Here are ten ways to boost your confidence, little by little. You can start with one of the action items below and add more of them to your repertoire as you go. Confidence-building is a lifetime project, but every step you take will pay off!
When you are ready to grow your confidence, the first step is to begin to notice which people in your life bring you up and which people bring you down. Consciously begin to spend more time with mojo-boosting people and limiting your time with people you feel obligated to hang out with but don’t really enjoy.
Mojo-depleting people around you could include your oldest friend, your sister, your mom or anyone. Growing your confidence is related to setting boundaries. Every time time you tell your mom “I’d love to go to the mall with you this weekend Mom, but it’s impossible — how about next weekend?” your muscles will grow!
An easy way to step out of your comfort zone and boost your confidence in new situations is to vary your routine. If you drive to work, choose a different route to drive home every day. Explore a different part of town. Try different foods in your diet. Vary your clothing choices.
Try a different hairstyle. Change your reading material. Change is the greatest confidence-booster there is because every time you experience something new, you realize that stepping out of your routine isn’t that scary after all.
Along with changing your routine, consciously choose new experiences to seek out and conquer. Pay particular attention to things you already know (or believe) you hate. If you think you hate something but you’ve never tried it (trying a certain type of food, going on a group hike, exercising, etc.), that means there is an old tape playing in your head.
The tape says “Stay away from this experience — it’s scary!” but that tape is out of date. Every time you try something you thought you would be terrible at or you’d hate, your muscles grow.
Get a journal and write in it as often as you can — every day or every other day. Write about your plan to boost your confidence and the new things you’re trying. Write about experiences and conversations you have during the day, and how each one made you feel. Pay close attention to your feelings as well as your body’s reaction to everything around you.
If you have to shut down your personality to get through the day at work, you may not have noticed which things, people and situations stress you out and which ones grow your flame. That’s what you want to focus on now!
6. Questions And Answers
In your journal, write a list of questions you’d like to answer for yourself. Here’s a sample list to get you started:
- What holds me back from exploring career options? Am I afraid that I’ll make a fool of myself if I start job-hunting? Am I afraid that job-hunting while working would be too much for me, and cause me too much stress? What obstacle, exactly, is in my way?
- If I could choose my dream job, what would that job be? What would the job description be, and what kind of organization would I work in?
- Which skills and talents of mine do I get to use in my current job, and which ones have to stay on the shelf unused? Which talents of mine would I like to use in my next job?
Start researching companies, job descriptions and pay levels. Browse the LinkedIn profiles of total strangers to see what they do in their jobs, and how they talk about their career histories in their LinkedIn profile summary.
Imagine yourself doing their jobs and ask yourself “Would I enjoy this type of work?”
Get a friend to accompany you to at a local business networking event.
When new acquaintances ask you “What do you do?” tell them about your current job, and add “…and I’m interested in meeting new people in the business community.”
The more people you meet and get-to-know-you conversations you have, the more your confidence will grow!
Now that you know which people in your life lift you up and which people suck your precious mojo away, you have a better sense of the positive and negative energy your friends and family members radiate.
Seek out supportive friends now, and ask them these two questions:
- You know me well. What do you think is the best next career step for me?
- I’m looking for new experiences to help me step out of my comfort zone and become more confident. What do you think I should try, next? Want to try that experience with me?
Acknowledge yourself for taking steps toward personal growth. Growing your muscles and mojo is the very best investment you can make, at any age and any stage of your career.
When you try something new, write in your journal for a month or take another step on your path, celebrate! Personal development work is hard. It’s out of the public eye.
You don’t get promoted or praised at work because you are working on yourself, but your growth as a person is more important than any raise or promotion your boss might give you.
Give yourself credit for the confidence-boosting program you are on. You are in training for a secret mission. Only you and your closest friends know about it.
Work at your mission a little bit every day, and in a few months you’ll be amazed how much stronger you’ve become!
All the best,
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This content was originally published by Forbes Magazine. Original publishers retain all rights. It appears here for a limited time before automated archiving. By Forbes Magazine