How to Build Confidence

Sometimes I see other women out there, often way younger than me, and I wonder how they got so confident, how they have such a strong voice. How do you build confidence?

Maybe some of us are born confident, maybe not. But my guess is that for a lot of people out there who appear super-confident, it’s that they’ve learned it.

They’ve had a series of small successes, and built on them.

One person listened to them and showed appreciation in what they had to say, then another, and another, and so their voice has grown louder and more confident over time.

They’ve succeeded in voicing their opinion, using a skill, dealing with a situation, whatever it is; they’ve then done it again, and again, and again.

It compounds.

So perhaps a way to build confidence for yourself is to recognise when you have a small success, and then keep going, trying to build on it.

Maybe you’ve broken out of your comfort zone by succeeding in doing something. It’s well documented that if you get out of your comfort zone regularly, you’ll build confidence. It’s like building a habit. You have to keep repeating until it becomes normal. So carry on breaking out of your comfort zone as often as you can.

Start small.

Easier said than done right? When you’re lacking in confidence, everything seems too much. But the key is – start small.

When I started writing blogposts, I was nervous about what to do with them. I knew they couldn’t just sit on my website, unseen.

But I wasn’t used to sharing my work. I’d never really posted on social media before. I had all kinds of doubts about my writing and about ‘putting it out there’.

However I’d previously done an interview with Careershifters, and when it was published on their website I shared the link with some close friends and family. I got such good feedback, and a few people told me it had inspired them.

So when I wrote my first few blogposts, I shared the links privately again, and got positive feedback again. That gave me the confidence to send my first tweet with a link to a blogpost. The world didn’t end. The next week I did the same. Then again. Sometimes I’d get a reaction, sometimes not.

After a while I realised it’s not so scary – those who are interested will have a read, those who aren’t, won’t. I became confident in sharing stuff on Twitter, then the next step was LinkedIn. Even scarier – I have lots of contacts on LinkedIn, a big network of people I’ve worked with over the years. Lots of people could potentially see (or criticise) my work.

But same again, I started small with one post, then another; they either got positive feedback or where ignored! Over time, it’s become easier, less of a big deal. I still don’t always find it easy – I’m not always sure if people will be interested in what I’m sharing. But I’m learning to care less, if it helps or interests someone then great, if not, nevermind.

Extra boost.

As well as starting small with things you are scared to do, another confidence boost is to keep a little store of nice things people have said about you. Sounds ridiculous but keeping a little of lovely comments, where you’ve helped someone, or inspired them, or they’ve appreciated something you’ve done or your work, is the ultimate proof that sometimes you get things right. It’s a reminder of what you’ve achieved so far. You can take a look whenever you need a boost.

Do you want to improve your confidence? What small step can you take – something you really want to do that scares you a little…write it down. Set yourself a challenge to do it in the next few days. Then pick the next thing, and keep going.

If you’d like to have life coaching sessions with me, read about what to expect here: Coaching Sessions and you can read some of my client testimonials here: Client Success Stories.

To book a session send me an email at joaopoku@gmail.com.

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Need some focus?

I do. I sometimes wonder if I’m losing my concentration skills. I’m finding it takes more and more effort to focus.

I seem to have a lot of half-started things around me, or things I want to look at/do/read/try but haven’t quite gotten round to. For example:

Half-read books.

Looking around my flat, I currently have 12 books where I’ve either read a chapter or two or am half-way through. A couple I’ll probably never read. But others I’ve enjoyed so far – I’ve just got side-tracked and tempted by something else.

Half-watched Netflix tv series.

Currently around 5.

Podcast episodes clogging up my phone’s flimsy storage capacity.

There are so many that I’m half-way through. On top of that, every day new episodes are appearing from podcasts I’ve subscribed to.

The choice is endless. There are podcasts offering something up whatever mood I’m in (entrepreneurial, comedy, entertainment, comfort, current affairs).

And some are for walking along to, some are for washing my hair to, some are for cooking to…

Too many emails in my inbox.

Offering free training or free webinars or free guides to things I want to learn about. There are a lot of voices out there, all ready to teach me something new. And there’s SO MUCH to learn!

35 articles.

Saved in a folder on my browser bookmarked ‘to read’. Throughout the day, as something catches my eye, I dump it there. And it adds up, and adds up…

There’s just too much stuff.

Knowing this stuff is all there clogging up leaves me with a feeling of dissatisfaction. I don’t like having things lingering like that. Nothing is completed.

Are my concentration skills failing? Or is it because there’s such a proliferation of stuff out there for us, it’s a real mental battle to just focus on one thing at a time, and see it through to the end.

Distractions.

It’s become normal to flit from one thing to another. Opening up multiple internet tabs where one article leads on to another. 

Looking up something on your phone, only to be distracted by a notification and taken off on a different rabbit hole. When you manage to come out of it you’ve forgotten what you were originally looking for. 

There are so many distractions out there, and when you’re curious and interested in lots of things, and like to learn, it’s even worse.

It takes a lot to pull back and work out what’s important, and then focus.

Solution.

So the only solution I have is to regularly reassess. 

  • What do I need to focus on today or this week? What are my top 3 priorities?
  • Can I break down my ‘to-dos’ into smaller, achievable actions steps?
  • Can I cull any emails/subscriptions/podcast episodes?
  • Are there any apps I can delete?
  • Can I streamline my diary, think hard before agreeing to something?
  • What if I make a promise to myself that I will see each new book, podcast episode, tv episode through to the end (unless it’s rubbish and therefore I’ll scrap it)?

It always comes down to simplifying when I feel overwhelmed. Cut through the noise, limit my options.

What are you doing to stop the overwhelm and unnecessary distractions?

***

You might like my guide to creating a morning routine: 3 easy steps to a morning routine you love!

Contact me if you’d like to try a life coaching session. I can help with overwhelm, productivity, feeling stuck… Email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

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Don’t put things off

Putting things off til later. We all do it. Either we don’t want to do it, or we just can’t face it right now. But some things really shouldn’t be put off, they’re too important and time is precious…

I saw a photo of myself from over a decade ago, taken in Dubrovnik, Croatia. I was there visiting with my family. I’m stood high on the city walls, sun baking down, admiring the view. I remember walking along the wall, running my hand along the hot stone, deep in thought.

I remembered how on that trip I had promised myself that one day (soon) I’d live abroad again.

It took me a good 10 years to finally do it.

They regret they didn’t do it sooner.

It seems a lot of people’s biggest regret when it comes to career change, starting their own business, moving house or moving abroad, is that they didn’t do it sooner. They put it off.

The thing is, once you’ve done it, you look back and realise it’s not so difficult. It’s simply the difference between dreaming about doing it and making the decision and actually doing it.

Most things are doable – you just need to decide.

The regret comes from realising that even though there may be challenges and obstacles steep learning curves and things that go wrong, your goal is achievable. And it really wasn’t something you needed to put off for so long.

Once I’d moved from the UK to Spain and looked back at the process, I was quite surprised at how straightforward it had actually been. I’d built it into this really massive thing. Leaving my flat, friends, family, life. For years the dream of moving abroad had become a big deal (even though I’d done it before, successfully, twice).

In the end it came down to:

  • Speaking to my bosses about moving abroad, which was scary and took courage – but they were fine about it (we work remotely).
  • I had to sort out renting my flat which was a bit of a faff. But the hardest part was deciding to leave my flat, which I’d loved living in. The emotional stuff. Once I’d made the decision, the rest was just practical stuff.
  • Stopping all household services and direct debits was straightforward.
  • Packing up the stuff in my flat and taking it to store in my Mum and Dad’s garage was easy.
  • Booking a flight to Valencia was simple.
  • Finding a flat in Valencia took a bit of effort, but I did it.

There’s always a way.

It really was just a series of steps. The main thing was sorting out my mindset, and getting my head around the idea that moving abroad at that time was plausible.

I know not everyone’s situation is the same, not everyone will have their own flat to rent out, not everyone will have parents willing to store their stuff. Not everyone will have a job they can pick up in another country, working remotely.

But, with each person’s own personal situation, there’s always a way. Once you make the decision to do something, it’s a matter of working away at it, taking steps to get you there.

Same with career change.

I spent years agonising about changing career. It did take a lot of reflection and planning. But I really dragged it out. I was putting it off because I really didn’t know what I wanted to do.

When it came down to it, it meant making the decision to leave my job and find something that suited me better. I had six months of doing a variety of jobs and freaking out about what to do. But eventually I found a new job I loved, and found the guts to start my own coaching business too.

And I now realise I could have done this all sooner.

Think about it.

The thing is, it doesn’t really matter if you do it now, in one year, or in 5 years. But what I’m saying is don’t wait too long out of fear. A bit of time to plan and prepare and set safety nets – yes. But procrastinating and putting it off for years, and not even taking that one small first step? No. You’re just putting off your own happiness.

Is there something that you’d really like to do, that you dream of doing, that if you fast forward 10 or 15 years you KNOW you’ll regret not going? What is it? Write it down. Put down as much detail around it as you can. Set a date by which time you want to have achieved this dream.

It may seem enormous, time consuming, ridiculous. But think about how you’ll feel once you do it or achieve it. 

If you keep taking tiny steps towards this big goal, then so much can be achieved, however long it takes you.

“Dare to life the life you dream for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you’d like to try life coaching with me, contact me at: joaopoku@gmail.com

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8 Things you need to know about moving abroad

A former client and friend asked me for my advice on moving abroad. As I started thinking, I realised that elements of this advice could be applied to all sorts; career change, starting something new, a side project. I hope it’s useful. Here’s my advice:

1. The fear. Once you take action, it gets better. Waiting is the worst.

The period before you make the move is the really scary part. That’s where it’s all unknown, vague, you can’t quite imagine how it’s going to be or what you’re going to do.

All your biggest fears come to head – will I be lonely, will I make any friends, will I end up homeless, will I hate it, will it all just be too difficult to cope with? I had all these fears before moving to Valencia.

Even things which are usually relatively simple or straightforward like opening a bank account or finding a place to live seem insurmountable.

Know that as soon as you get there and start ‘doing’, this particular fear will drop away as you’ll be so busy taking it all in and taking action.

2. Relax

So you’re there, you’ve been there a little while, and you might be thinking “what have I done, what have I done, what have I done…”

Give yourself time. Time to readjust, take in your new surroundings, learn how things work. Chances are the start might be a bit rocky and emotional, as you become a novice and just don’t know stuff. With time, you will.

3. Meeting people and making friends. Keep busy, ask for help.

Get out there. That’s all you can do. Say yes to as much as you can, try everything, talk to people. Keep your options open.

It can be daunting but you’re only going to meet your people by meeting lots of random people, and keeping going until you feel that click.

If big meet-up groups aren’t your thing and the thought of some big expat community makes your skin crawl, look for ways to meet people one on one. There are smaller localised Facebook groups which can be really useful and supportive.

I used an excellent ‘Conversation Exchange’ website as soon as I arrived in Valencia – where you arrange to meet people who want to practise speaking your language and vice versa.

So whenever I wanted, every night if I so wished, I had someone to meet for a drink.

I could enjoy being out and about and having company. And – it’s an excellent way to learn about your new home city or town, you can ask loads of questions and even get help or advice.

4. Explore. 

One of the most exciting parts of being in a new city. Make a massive list of all the things you want to do.

Plan trips/visits. Do all the cliches. Eat all the food. Watch films, sit in a cafes. You’ll get to know the city really well, you’ll have fun and you’ll be out and about.

5. Language learning.

Once you start making progress, marvel at it. Each new word you learn, sentence you formulate, question you understand, is a massive success. Use every opportunity to converse and persist. Immerse yourself in TV, radio, film, talks.

6. Celebrate your successes. 

Bank account open – great. Coffee date set up – amazing. I think we could all do better at this in everyday life – acknowledge when you’ve overcome something tricky, however small it may seem. You’re doing a good job.

7. Make a plan. 

Imagine how you want your life to be in a month, or 3 months, or 6 months. Then set goals. For example, in the next 3 months I want to: 

  • Meet at least one or two friends. 
  • Go on x number of dates.
  • Visit x, y, z.
  • Improve my language skills by attending/doing x every day.
  • Find a decent flat. 
  • Try x, y, z.

It helps you focus on what you want, and keep track of your achievements as time passes.

8. And remember

Even if it doesn’t seem to be working out as you imagined;

a) Give yourself time, you never know what’s around the corner. 

b) You can be proud that you’ve done something so many people dream of, and never do. You took that massive step and went for something you have wanted for a long time. It takes courage.

You’ve been brave enough to follow your heart, follow your dreams. 

Finally…

My main advice when moving abroad?

Enjoy yourself, enjoy the feeling of freedom. Along with all the practicalities and organisation, have fun. Do all those things that you dreamt of when you dreamed of your life in Paris. 

Every once in a while you’ll look around and think, am I really here?

If you’d like to try a coaching session with me, contact me at: joaopoku@gmail.com.

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Do less. It’s simple.

Simple grey typewriter with lots of green plants.

I recently read an article I loved, called Why ambition is overrated. In it the author admits that she has a few simple pleasures in life, and only wants to do the work she needs to in order to enjoy these things.

For example, things such as eating good food, reading books and watching a films. Simple.

Her aim is to work enough – and not much more.

“I am constantly amazed by the blasé professional assumption that everyone should work an hour later than they are contracted, and take ten minute lunch breaks at their desk (if at all).” – Megan Nolan

And I think that’s a pretty good aim. Most of us just want to enjoy the simple things. But we get sucked into social pressures, feel that we’ve got to work harder, keep up, not get left behind.

As much as I’m interested in self-development and improving things in your life you’re not happy with (job, living situation, morning routine), I’m actually a big fan of a more ‘slacker’ attitude.

Slow down

Part of the reason I moved to Spain a couple of years ago was that I wanted a simpler life. I was reacting badly to London life. I wanted less stress, less pressure, more sun, a better social life.

Things are slower here, on a smaller scale. My social life is simpler and easier. Here I have friends available to meet for a coffee or wine at a moment’s notice, never further than a short walk or bike ride away.

What’s important for you

Of course moving to another country isn’t for everyone, and, it’s not the only solution when things aren’t going well in your life.

But working out for yourself what you want in life IS important.

And that article is a good reminder to take note of what you’re really aiming for in life. For me this means:

  • I don’t have to have the big corporate career, a job title that impresses others and to fit in to what’s often considered as success.
  • It’s about working out what’s important to you, and finding ways to integrate those things into your life.
  • Creating a lifestyle that’s right for you.
  • The ideal is doing work that you enjoy, that feels of value and that support you financially.
  • But equally important is actually having time for your home life, your social life, time with friends and family and hobbies and just not doing.

It’s up to you

I hope this post helps if you’re feeling the pressure, feeling dissatisfied and wanting to make changes to your life.

I love it when someone reminds me that doing less isn’t necessarily a bad thing. So here we are. Do less, do what YOU want, do what suits you. Make changes, one step at a time.

If you’d like to book a coaching session with me, email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

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