3 quick tips to boost your confidence

How to pick yourself up when your confidence takes a knock.

Have you ever felt that your confidence is draining away? Or perhaps you have an inner critic that tells you you’re not good enough or that you’re going to get found out? Or do you turn down new opportunities because your confidence takes a nosedive?

If you are thinking ‘Yes!’ I want you to know that you’re not alone. I’ve worked with hundreds of clients to help them boost their confidence for change. That change can be anything from developing a new product or service, managing others through a period of change to changing their own job or even career.

What is self-confidence?

Self-confidence is a belief that whatever the situation, that you can rely on yourself. It’s an attitude and a feeling about who you are, what you do and your own capabilities. When you’re feeling self-confident you accept and trust yourself. You know your strengths and weaknesses and have a positive view of them both. When you’re feeling confident, you can easily step out of your comfort zone and tackle new situations. You feel robust and can take on board feedback because you see it as helpful to your learning and development.

Feeling confident is a great state to be in; you trust yourself and believe in your skills and abilities to handle any situation. When you’re self-confident you’re more relaxed and less anxious. You’re happier to go with the flow and respond more positively to those around you. You’re also more likely to step out of your comfort zone and step up to opportunities, stretch yourself and learn and develop as a result.

It’s not the case that some people are confident, and others are not.

We’re all born with a bucket full of confidence. It’s simply that the confident people are more accomplished at maintaining their mindset for confidence and keeping their bucket topped up. They don’t allow their confidence to hit rock bottom. And while genetics does have some part to play in our capacity for confidence, a more important factor in building and maintaining your confidence is understanding why, and when your confidence fluctuates and have practical techniques to replenish your confidence levels. People who are accomplished at managing their confidence prepare for confidence dips, have techniques to manage their feelings of self-doubt and systems, processes and practical tools to maintain their confidence on a daily basis.

Regardless of role, seniority or sector, a common denominator that stops people achieving success at work is a lack of confidence. And crisis of confidence often happens when we’re doing something new or pushing ourselves to achieve more. The impact of the pandemic can also affect our confidence. Coping with uncertainty, managing feelings of anxiety, as well as changes in our working patterns including working from home away from colleagues, feeling isolated or under pressure can all contribute to feelings of low confidence.

Boost your confidence

Managing confidence is key to achieving success at work. Here’s my top 3 practical tips to boost your confidence.

1. Start to notice. This is about noticing when your confidence starts to wobble. You’re a unique individual so your signals might be different to other people’s. Just start to notice. The next time you notice feeling unsure or unconfident write down what’s going on. For example, your boss asks you to meet a deadline, does that fire you up or make your confidence wobble? Why might that be? Is it because of the person asking, the nature of the task or the immediacy of the deadline? You’re asked a direct question in a team meeting and you feel a sinking feeling in your stomach. Why might that be? Is it because you’re put on the spot and feel under pressure, because you’re anxious about speaking in meetings or worried about saying something wrong? For any situation there might be a number of factors that result in your confidence taking a nosedive. Start to notice when this happens.

2. Log your achievements. Get yourself a notebook or create an online file. This is your Book of Truths. You use it in three ways:

  1. Firstly, use your Book of Truths to write down the things you’re good at, the things you’re proud of and the things you know you’ve done well. Be specific. Recall the time when you nailed that presentation, when you wrote the winning proposal, when you spoke up confidently in a meeting. What did you do? How did you feel? Keep adding to this every time you feel confident and you’re proud of something you’ve achieved.
  2. Secondly use this Book of Truths as a way to record feedback from others; the client that said excellent job, the manager that said well done, the colleague said thank you for helping them out. Again, be specific about the situation, and think about how you felt. Keep adding to this every time you get a good piece of feedback.
  3. And finally use your Book of Truths as a quick journal that you update regularly. How often you do it is up to you. I recommend every day and a minimum of 10 minutes once a week. Write down your achievements from the week, the things you’re proud of, the things you’ve achieved, and what you’ve learned. Note how you feel about your achievements. List everything, no matter how small because they all add up.

3. Tackle your inner critic. That little nagging voice inside your head is called Imposter Syndrome. It’s a term first coined in 1978 by psychologists, Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes. It describes the psychological phenomenon which is characterised by intense feelings of not being good enough, being a fraud and that you’re going to get found out – even though all the evidence suggests otherwise.

It’s actually rather common. Research suggests that 70% of people have had feelings of being inadequate and getting found out at one time or another.

Tips to tackle your inner critic

  • Stop comparing yourself to others. Comparison is the thief of joy and will send your confidence into a tailspin and invite your inner critic to shout more loudly. If you find yourself scrolling through social media thinking that your life isn’t as good as everyone else’s, if your self-confidence is eroding away as you scroll. Just. Stop. Scrolling.
  • Pause, stop and reflect. If you feel fear or resistance about an activity, pause. Become aware that a limiting belief (A limiting belief is a state of mind, conviction, or belief that you think to be true that limits you in some way) voiced by your inner critic might be at play. Rather than view it as a reason to stop in your tracks for fear of failure, reframe it. Your inner critic is speaking up because you’re experiencing something new, you’re learning something. Reframe the fear feeling that you might have in the pit of your stomach as a feeling of excitement that you might be onto something new and energising.
  • Give your inner critic a name. A name that takes away the inner critic’s power and stops it being a voice of fear. It must be a name that you find absurd. A name that you can’t take seriously, that you don’t respect, or that you can ridicule. The next time your inner critic makes an appearance you can tell it ‘Go away <insert absurd inner critic name>’ and it immediately becomes less powerful.
  • Refer to your Book of Truths. When that little nagging voice telling you that you’re not good enough and that anything good that happens to you is luck gets loud – call it out. Refer to the stack of evidence that you’re building each week in your Book of Truths to prove it wrong. For example, if your inner critic says you can’t do that presentation to the senior management team, ask yourself, ‘What evidence is there that shows I absolutely can do this?’

Let me know how you get on. There’s more practical tips and tools to build your confidence in my ebook ‘How to have confidence at work.

If you have any questions or would like some additional support to manage and boost your confidence, check out Lucidity training and coaching, the Lucidity Network or drop me a line at lucy@lucidity.org.uk

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