Small habits can create big boosts in your career confidence.
There was a time when I thought all I needed to solve my career problems was another job.
So I did what everyone does in that situation. I updated my resume, polished up my cover letter, and began submitting applications to jobs online.
Because my only job criterion at that time was to leave my current employer, I applied to anything that matched my skill set. (Just an FYI here. When you take the please-just-get-me-out-of-here approach to a job search, chances are the opportunities you get won’t be great.)
Every job I interviewed for seemed like my old job in a different building. Those positions may have paid a bit more, but the demands on my time and added commuting expenses always seemed to outweigh any potential bump in salary.
The whole process was frustrating, disheartening, and demoralizing. So I ended up sticking with the same job for a few more years.
I always contrast that job search experience with my first year as a solo legal practitioner. I was so eager and excited in my first year. I went to tons of networking events. I reached out to peers, mentors, and advisors. I joined associations and organizations and had a lot of fun doing it.
Because of this, I received 3 job offers that year without trying or being in the job market.
When I look back on those experiences, I don’t think I got those offers because I was smarter or more skilled when I started my practice. I got those job offers because I was more confident.
Confidence is critical to career success. At work, confidence feels like motivation and ambition. It helps you take action when you are afraid or anxious. It also enables you to persevere when things get tough.
Often we think that confidence is something we acquire. But it’s our daily habits that help build and maintain the confidence we need to conquer our career goals.
So if your career confidence needs a little boost, here are 4 small habits that you can implement today to get things moving in the right direction.
One habit to cultivate when you are trying to build confidence is trying something new. You can try almost anything from picking up a paintbrush to taking a new route home from work. The task you try doesn’t really matter. The confidence-building comes from the fact that you are just doing something different.
New activities force you to focus your mind instead of operating on autopilot. With focus, you open up your brain’s creative side and generate new ideas. From that place, you can begin to see your career more clearly and discover new pathways for fulfillment.
Often we talk to ourselves in ways that we would never speak to other people. If we don’t exercise in the morning, we think, “I’m just so lazy.” If we don’t make it to a networking event because we are exhausted from work, we tell ourselves, “I need to get it together.”
For most of us, this negative self-talk is constant and often remains unchallenged. But if you want to build your career confidence, you must change that pattern. A simple habit to help with this is questioning and reframing. When you find yourself engaging in negative self-talk, immediately ask these 5 questions:
By questioning and reframing your negative self-talk, you can begin to replace those thoughts with confidence building statements that lead to positive changes in your career.
In an article for the Independent, a 15-year-old teenager for the UK wrote:
“[We live] in a society that tells young women they can have all the same dreams men can, . . . and aim for any career path they choose, whilst simultaneously inundating them with an onslaught of daily messages that as women they will be judged almost exclusively on the basis of their looks, regardless of success.”
The conflicting messages that we, as women, receive about beauty are maddening. On the one hand, if we want to be taken seriously, we’re not supposed to think beauty is important. At the same time, we are told to “look the part” if we want to go further in our careers and know that we are being judged by our looks.
What no one seems to be concerned about in either of those narratives is the underlying, intrinsic feeling of confidence that comes if you genuinely believe you are beautiful regardless of what other people think.
You are beautiful because you are uniquely made, and there is beauty in that originality. You are also beautiful because your body, with all of its strength, health, and ability to function, carries all your hearts’ dreams. Because of that, you have every right to appreciate, adorn, and love your bodies every day. And you should. Making a habit of appreciating the beauty of your uniqueness will do wonders for your confidence in all areas of your life.
There are books, podcasts, and entire YouTube challenges about gratitude, and it’s positive effects. So instead of defining it, what I want to share here is how I practice gratitude.
Every day I think about 3 things I’m thankful for that happened that day. It takes me less than 5 minutes, and sometimes I write those things down. After I have my three things, I send up a silent prayer of thanks and smile to myself.
Now the best part about doing this, especially when I write my list down, is that I see all the things that I am thankful for over time. So whenever I feel like I can’t accomplish something, I draw confidence from remembering my gratitude list, and being able to do that has made all the difference.
What are some habits that you are building to help you build your career confidence? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.