Confidence is crucial. Without confidence, you can’t truly reach your potential. You will always be holding at least a little something back.
The good news is, if you lack confidence, there are things you can concentrate on to grow your confidence.
The even better news is that they are relatively small things, but cumulatively, and over time, they can have a big impact.
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Don’t Rush Yourself
If you’re not as confident as you’d like, that’s not going to change overnight. If you set an unrealistic goal and fail, you will feel frustrated and discouraged. Instead, start small. Set goals that are manageable and incremental, slowly building your way to where you want to be.
Picture What You Want to Achieve
Golfers visualise where they want the ball to land (or so I’m told); you should visualise the result you want to see. The more you picture the new, more confident you, the more you will actually start to embody that idea.
Dress for the Part
Following on from the point above, project your new (or soon-to-come) confidence in the way you dress. Initially, this will be part of “faking it ‘til you make it”, but knowing that you look good will also make you feel good, boosting your confidence. It’s also a great excuse to treat yourself to some new clothes.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s right. Trying out new things and taking on new responsibilities boosts your confidence. It will show you capabilities that you never thought you had. The things you thought were scary and impossible are actually completely manageable.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
Confidence shouldn’t be predicated on knowing everything. No-one knows everything. It’s important to learn that, and accept that it’s ok to ask questions. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know and may make mistakes - not ideal for growing your confidence. Instead, ask away. You’ll be better prepared to do a great job.
Learn That Nobody’s Perfect
It’s impossible to go through life without making a single mistake. If you do make a mistake, don’t get hung up on it. It’s much better to learn what you can from it. Know that you’ll do better next time.
Look for Feedback
Getting negative feedback can knock your confidence even when it is constructive. Rather than shying away from it, you should welcome it. This is a great chance to get input that you can use to improve your work. A pair of outside eyes often spots something you missed. Bite the bullet and ask for someone’s opinion. It’s much better than simply wringing your hands and worrying they didn’t like it.
While it’s not always fun to hear criticism, it’s important for improvement. The better you are at something, the more confident you will feel. Feedback can also be positive, leading to an immediate confidence boost. And you wouldn’t have that without asking for the feedback in the first place.
Have the Right People Around You
It should be pretty obvious who are the positive influences in your life. Focus on your relationships with peers and mentors who support you. That doesn’t mean they should be unquestioning cheerleaders of everything you do, though. It’s important that these people also offer criticism when need be. Their support will help you improve your work and build real confidence.
Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
It’s easy to focus on your mistakes and remind yourself what a dolt you are. Don’t do that. It’s much more productive to be gentle with yourself. Mistakes happen. Learn what you can from them and move on. It’s also OK to give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.
Remember Your Wins
I’m not saying that you should rest on your laurels and wallow in past glories, but that you should think of your successes more than your failures. If you’re struggling with something, just think back to a piece of work you are really proud of. Let that boost your morale. That’s what you are capable of, and you shouldn’t forget it.
Let Other People Know About Your Wins
Don’t run around boasting, of course, but if you’re proud of something you did, don’t keep it to yourself. The approval of others can provide a massive confidence boost. It doesn’t have to be a colleague; your flatmate or significant other will also be interested to hear about something cool you did at work. Telling others about your successes will also remind you to congratulate yourself.
Underconfidence often comes from a feeling of ignorance. Keep learning throughout your career. Over time, you will build up a base of knowledge that will always be on hand to bolster your confidence. Read industry articles, blogs and books, attend seminars, watch videos. However you do it, deeper knowledge on a subject will make you feel more at ease with it.
Expand Your Skillset
Increasing your know-how will also increase your confidence. Having specific training in something provides you with real authority on the subject. You can afford to feel confident when that is the case.
Think long and hard about which skills would complement what you know already. Then look into relevant courses. These might be more general, perhaps boosting your soft skills, or they might be specific, focusing on a single tool. Make sure to find out if your company has any training budget that would cover it.
Build on What You Already Know
With the two points above, it’s a good idea to pick subjects or skills that relate to and build on what you know. That way, you are closer to your comfort zone (but, importantly, still outside it). As I said earlier, small steps. Make learning a progression and you will slowly but surely build confidence on a solid foundation.
Don’t just do something once. Do it over and over again. The more familiar you are with something, the more comfortable, and hence confident, you will become. It’s worth putting in time and effort to that end.
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Smile as Much as Possible
It sounds odd to say, but one of the things you should be practising is smiling. I know what you are thinking: You know how to smile. Sure, but what you don’t know is that confident people smile more and that smiling is a skill you can learn.
Smile at yourself in the mirror every day. You’ll feel like a clown, but eventually, the smiles will come more and more naturally. That’s good because the simple act of smiling has been shown to actually make you happier. The better your frame of mind, the more confident you will feel.
Walk the Walk
In the same way that your facial expression can affect your mood, so can your walk. Don’t shuffle along the corridors but walk purposefully and happily. It sounds strange, but doing so can give your mood a boost, and your confidence along with it.