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6 Tools for Career Confidence

It is well documented that higher self-confidence has a huge impact on the trajectory of an individual’s career.

Those with a positive sense of who they are and what they’re capable of are far more likely to make positive choices and get positive outcomes at every stage.

To start with, those with higher self-confidence will typically have higher aspirations and will tend to believe that there are more options open to them. Moreover, they are more likely to take the steps required to advance their career (such as learning new skills and challenging themselves) and are more likely to grab hold of opportunities that come their way (such as following up with someone they’ve met through networking.)

So, if self-confidence is so vital to making progress in your career, here are six key tools to boosting your self-confidence. Not only are these backed up by research, they are things I continually employ:

1. Connect

I think we’ve all learnt through lockdown how important human connection is in keeping us sane and positive. We are innately social animals and have survived and evolved as part of tribes.

However, when it comes to professional development, we can often feel uncomfortable or exhausted from networking with those we don’t know well – particularly if the networking environment feels a bit contrived.

So one way to avoid this is to focus on people who we already know and perhaps speak to less frequently. These could be friends from the past, people we know through a shared interest / hobby or individuals in our local community. Talking and connecting with others not only makes us feel more positive, but can also reap some serious rewards when it comes to professional introductions or learning about other industries, roles and opportunities. The bottom line: our networks can be a powerful force in our career, so get out there and develop your relationships!

2. Keep learning

Lifelong learning keeps the brain active and has been shown to reduce the chance of depression. Challenging yourself to learn something has actually been shown to increase self-esteem gives individuals a sense of purpose, and typically increases social integration – and as we’ve already established social connection is key.

Whether or not your new hobby can be linked to a future career, the benefits of learning will boost your confidence. Remember, learning can take many forms, so choose something that really appeals to you.

3. Manage your limiting beliefs

Science has shown that what we believe becomes our reality. By the time we enter adulthood, all of us will have developed negative beliefs about ourselves and unhelpful thought patterns that will genuinely hold us back from being the person we could be – some of us more than others.

The first step is to become aware of these negative beliefs before we can go about changing them. And thanks to neuroscience research, we now know that changing our thoughts (and ultimately our behaviours) is possible at any age. Hoorah! You don’t have to believe everything you think!

So take some time to reflect and first ask yourself: what negative beliefs or thought patterns are keeping me from progressing? What does the voice of my inner critic say?

Once you’ve established what your self-sabotaging beliefs are, you can ask yourself what evidence you have for them, whether those thoughts serve you and what you can choose to focus on instead.

4. Stay active

Again, this tool may sound far removed from your typical desk job, but we should all be aware by now that regular exercise is associated with higher levels of well-being and lower levels of depression for all age groups.

It is not in itself going to enhance your career, but even a daily walk outdoors will lift your spirits. An enhanced mood could lead to other positive actions in your day that will directly impact your performance at work and perception of yourself – so carving out just ten minutes every day for some physical exercise could make a real difference.

5. Give

In an earlier post, I talked about adding value as being a vital part of making a career change, but this is true whether you’re looking to transition or simply progress in your role.

Giving to others in any sense stimulates the rewards centres of our brains. In fact, volunteering has been associated with positive emotions, meaning in life and even reduced mortality rates!

If you’re wondering what to prioritise on a day when you’re feeling low and lacking in confidence, do something for someone else and you will immediately feel more positive and confident!

6. Be mindful

Mindfulness. It’s a bit like veganism really. Depending on who you mention the word to it can elicit some very different and strong reactions!

The theory behind mindfulness is that learning to focus our attention on our ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’ increases our cognitive and behavioural control. And once this has improved, we are more likely to tolerate uncertainty, be more flexible and ultimately become more resilient in times of challenge. And we all know that challenge will arise for all of us at one point or another in our lives.

So for the less enthusiastic, it’s important to emphasise that just a few minutes of focused deep breathing can constitute as mindfulness. It’s something that we can fit into our lives and practise daily. And in making time to enhance our cognitive and behavioural control, this can have a profound impact the decisions we make around our career choices, the jobs we apply for and the way in which we perceive our potential.

So, mindfulness might just be worth a try…even for the sceptics!

If you're interested in learning more about how to make career change or develop your career, please get in touch with me directly by scheduling a free consultation.

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