Everyone feels like they are winging it sometimes. In fact, research has shown that up to 70 percent of working adults suffer from impostor (or imposter) syndrome – a deep-seated doubt of your abilities and accomplishments. It’s a big problem for anyone with big career ambitions because unless you feel worthy of your success and like you create the good outcomes in your life (rather than believing they happen by accident), you’ll never be able to achieve your full potential. It all comes down to confidence and self-belief, and according to positive psychology coach Adele Hawkes, it is fixable. Here’s how to tell if your confidence is holding you back in your career and how to turn things around.
If you’re reading this because you struggle with your self-confidence, the first thing to realise is that everyone does. It’s completely normal and natural to occasionally grapple with low self-esteem and confidence, especially when trying something new and challenging… like a career change. Take it from me, even the most gifted artists, experienced professionals and top-of-their-game specialists suffer from impostor syndrome and doubt themselves and their abilities at times. This only becomes problematic when this lack of confidence persists and prevents you from doing the things you really want to do in life.
In other words, it’s ok to feel the fear if you still go ahead and do the thing that scares you. But if that doubt and fear stop you in your tracks, it’s time to look at what’s going on more closely.
How can I tell if I have low confidence?
Ask yourself if any of these sound familiar?
- You know what you want to do next in your career, but it seems too big and too scary to even get started.
- You find yourself jumping to conclusions about what other people might be thinking, and act accordingly.
- You constantly question your own ability and compare it unfavourably with other people’s.
- You’ve become indecisive, even about small and inconsequential decisions.
- You give up too soon because you probably couldn’t do it anyway so what’s the point in trying?
- You’ve started to take more notice of other people’s opinions than your own inner voice. Even kindly-delivered constructive criticism leaves you feeling upset.
How can I improve my self-confidence?
Of course, the list above is far from exhaustive, but it should give you a flavour of the signs to look out for. Research shows a strong correlation between self-confidence, achievement and positive mental health, so it’s certainly worth spending a few minutes thinking about it. And if that list has set off alarm bells, I’m sure you are wondering what you can do to boost your self-confidence right now.
The solution lies in six little words: Know yourself, own yourself, be yourself. In fact, these are the game changers.
Dig deep and consider how well do you really know yourself. Can you easily name your strengths and values? What gives you purpose and meaning? What makes you feel energised? And just as importantly, what are your weaknesses? What attributes do you have that you aren’t so proud of?
Invest some time in building up a 360-degree picture of yourself, and don’t shy away from any part of your personality – after all, the foundation of owning yourself is self-acceptance. You don’t need to make any apologies for not being perfect, just accept that no-one is. Chances are you need to cut yourself some slack, especially if you have been holding yourself up to unrealistically high expectations.
Finally, it’s time to be yourself, and make no mistake, this takes courage. But it’s worth it.
Positive psychology researchers have found that authenticity is at the heart of well-being and healthy functioning. The more you embrace who you are, flaws and all, the fewer internal conflicts you’ll experience and the more energy you’ll be able to direct into getting where you want to go.
Taking action to create a life you love
Getting started is the hardest part of any journey, but as soon as you do, you’ll experience an upward spiral of emotions that will build momentum. And if you need a little more inspiration, here’s a quote from Dale Carnegie: “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
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