Four Steps to Increase Your Confidence at Work

Do you ever find yourself not sure what to turn to next at work?

Or maybe you spend a good chunk of time hounding your boss for feedback before you move onto the next project.

Or worse – you don’t think you have the talent or skills to advance and just keep waiting for them to come to you.

I work with a lot of clients who are struggling at work because they have a confidence issue. It’s not always apparent up front, but when we get to the root cause, it’s a lack of confidence. That lack of confidence is the foundation for why they can’t get a promotion, find a new job, and don’t know what their future holds.

We know that confidence in the workplace is imperative to success. But what do you do if you don’t feel confident?

Here are some concrete ways to boost your confidence at work so you’re not held back when you deserve to get ahead.

Step 1 – Understand Your Why

The biggest confidence-quashing habit you’ve likely fallen into is performing your work how others have told you. It’s ok. I get it. It’s easier to follow the rules and saves you from the potential conflict of being different.

But it’s costing you your confidence.

When you execute your work how other people have before you, you’re limiting your potential. At the most recent Emmy Awards ceremony, Lena Waithe – who won an Emmy for her work on Master of None – said it best: “The things that make us different, those are our superpowers.” So, what are your superpowers, and how do you let them shine without upending the entire system?

Listening to those with experience is imperative to your growth. But consider what they are teaching you as merely a baseline. Take the time to identify the basic rules you need to follow to make others comfortable. In doing so, you’re also identifying those practices you don’t need to conform to and why. Knowing why you’re choosing not to follow a certain path will give you the confidence to explain it to others and make your case.

It’s like cooking. Most of us need a foundational recipe – the basics that keep us within the boundaries of what we’re trying to cook. You can’t make something and call it spaghetti without pasta and tomatoes, right? But what you add on your own is what makes it YOUR famous spaghetti and better than just following any basic recipe online.

What truly sets you apart and leads to advancement is the courage to find your own way.

Step 2 – Track Your Accomplishments

I rarely do job search work with clients anymore. But when I do, I’m amazed at how little people remember about their accomplishments over the years. Time goes on. You forget specific projects you worked on and how you contributed, and you start to lose sight of all you’ve overcome.

You probably think you can remember your past exactly how it happened. But you don’t. When you try to remember what you did in the past, it’s clouded by your current experience and perceptions, so it’s never truly accurate. If you’re in a funk now and trying to boost your confidence by thinking about all you’ve achieved in the past, you’ll probably have a difficult time remembering how great you were.

To get back to a place where you can draw on your achievements for a much-needed confidence boost, you need to take two steps:

RIGHT NOW – Mine your memory

The memory is amazing. Once you start digging, you uncover experiences and feelings you thought you had lost. It takes some work and a bit of time, though.

Sit down and start thinking about your past projects, jobs, accounts you managed, bosses you had – everything. And write it all down. Write down the accomplishments you want others to know about. It will be hard at first, and will likely take a few thoughtful sessions. But the more you dig, the more your past will start to rise to the surface, and you’ll be surprised at how much you can remember about what you contributed in the past and how amazing you are!

GOING FORWARD – Keep a journal!

Ugh – work journals. Here she goes again. I know. But it serves a couple of purposes. First, you won’t have to do that mining exercise you just did going forward. Saving work down the road is nice.

Second – it will boost your confidence! By taking time each day to write down what you accomplished, you’ll feel great about starting the next day. And if you find you’re having a hard time getting things accomplished, try this.

One of the key complaints professionals have these days is a lack of consistent feedback. Work journals help you develop your own feedback system so you can see that you’re on track in accomplishing your goals (or not, so you can adjust your actions or goals, as needed). Feedback from others at work is important, but usually not there on a daily – or even weekly – basis. If you can evaluate your performance on your own, you’ll be miles ahead of the curve when it comes to progressing in your career.

So – work journals save future work, boost your confidence by keeping your accomplishments top of mind, and provide self-driven feedback you can tap into whether you’re getting it from others or not.

Three birds. One journal.

Step 3 – Set strategic Goals and Plan Your Future

Have you ever set out on a trip without knowing where you’re going? I do it sometimes on my bike when I’m too lazy to put in the time up front to plan a route. And when I do that I feel lost. I’m constantly questioning where to turn because I don’t know where I’m going, and every decision point on my ride becomes a chore leaving me wondering what I’ve missed.

Your career is like a trip with no destination. If you don’t have goals for where you’re going and a plan for how to get there, you’ll feel terrible at every decision point and your confidence will suffer.

To combat this, take the time to plan your career. This requires you to carve out time to define what you want. When you do that from a place that is true to you – without listening to what others are telling you to do – you’ll feel great about your goals and confident at every turn.

When you have a clear goal, you have a focused mind. With that focus at the forefront, you can choose how you pursue projects at work and what skills to develop in your career. Your goals (with daily reflection) will overlay every decision, interaction, project, email, etc., you make at work, and boost your confidence in why you’re making a certain choice.

PS – Both of my private coaching programs start with assessing yourself to solidify your confidence out the gates! If you want to overcome what’s held you back and get real on what YOU want out of life, learn how to do that here.

Step 4 – Practice Deliberate Practice

At a certain point in your career, your skills development will stall if you’re not paying attention. In the first 5-10 years, most professionals automatically grow their skills without thinking much about it. This is natural, as the first part of your career is typically focused on growing technical skills required for your profession, and the learning curve is fairly steep.

A few years out, though, your learning curve will decrease or flatten out altogether if you stay in your same profession and aren’t paying attention. When you feel like it’s been awhile since you’ve learned something new, you need to take things into your own hands and practice deliberate practice.

Deliberate practice is how you grow skills. You can continue to practice technical skills – more relevant if you are looking to switch careers or shift the trajectory of your skills – or shift your practice to transferrable skills – those required to get ahead.

Either way, the principles of deliberate practice apply. This goes beyond just saying “I want to get better at leadership.” It takes actually stretching yourself in small ways to practice leading. Start with safe environments and identify actionable steps you can take to put yourself in a leadership role.

For example, you could start a discussion group at work or even start your own book club. Both of these options require consistent practice and have built-in accountability from others in the group (i.e., you can’t just call it quits because other people will be relying on you!).

Growing and adding new skill sets keeps you engaged at work and – you guessed it – boosts your confidence! It’s a nice reminder that you can still grow and change and as you add skills to your toolkit, your confidence will grow. Choose one skill at a time to develop and know that once that’s mastered you can move on to the next.

Are you ready to boost your confidence?

If you’re struggling with knowing your why or how to plan your future, start here to see how coaching can help you, and learn more about my private coaching programs here.

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