My client needed to find a new job as she had been made redundant. But she had lost her confidence. It was really holding her back. In her previous job she felt she couldn’t make her own decisions or act autonomously. And she didn’t know how to be more assertive. She’d got into the habit of falling back, staying quiet.
So she was hesitant about applying for new jobs. Although she had a good idea want she wanted to move on to, she didn’t know if she’d be able to sell herself. And she was scared of ending up in the same situation, with an overbearing manager, micro-managing her every move and criticising her.
This resulted in her going for jobs which didn’t match up to her level of experience or pay expectations. She felt that staying small would make things easier for her. But then she felt huge frustration. She knew she was better than this, that she could go for roles that were bigger and better, where she could showcase her skills and experience. And she had financial goals, such as travelling and one day buying a house.
My client worked with me on improving her confidence, which meant shifting the way she saw herself and reflecting on what she had achieved. She listed times she had acted assertively or confidently. She considered other areas of her life apart from work where she was a confident person.
The aim was to shake off the skin of her previous job; let that be in the past. Her new plan was to take bold steps forward: contacting people she wouldn’t have dared of before, writing, making herself more visible.
Ultimately she found a new job where she felt she had a voice and was encouraged to use it. She had worked out what she wanted from a company and her next role, and what she could bring to it. And her she was. She knew that she could do good work and move on confidently.
If you’d like to book a coaching session with me, contact me at LinkedIn or at email@example.com.
I had a client recently who was really struggling. She’d been made redundant and was grieving the death of a family member. She had clashed with an unsympathetic, difficult manager in her previous job, and had totally lost her confidence. We agreed that she needed help with building her confidence and some gentle pushing in the right direction.
My client knew she had a lot of experience and that she was good at her work. But she felt easily intimidated and was scared to use her voice. She felt frustrated because she saw that this was happening but didn’t know how to deal with it.
A disconnect between what she wanted, and what she was doing.
When she first started talking to me my client was in the process of searching and applying for jobs. But she found herself going for positions that were below her experience level and salary requirements. She was too intimidated to go for more senior positions. She didn’t feel confident enough. Deep down she wanted to maybe branch out into a different sector, earn more money, live more comfortably, but her wishes and her actions weren’t tallying.
We worked together on some confidence building activities. We started by listing her abilities and skills, such as communication and presentation skills. Next, we assessed her use of them. Then, I got her to step back and actually look at the reality. Was she indeed ‘mediocre’ or ‘not very good’ at something? Or, was it that she didn’t have the motivation, satisfaction or support in that environment? Could it be that she was being too harsh on herself, and was way more capable than she was giving herself credit for?
Another task to help build her confidence was to start contacting people in companies she’d like to work for, to ask for advice. Find out if they knew of any job opportunities, or if they could advise her on the application process, anything that felt appropriate. She used LinkedIn for this, finding people within her network who seemed approachable, to ask for help.
At first she was quite hesitant, she wasn’t used to ‘putting herself out there’ and felt that people would see her as a nuisance. She was very concerned with bothering people. My response to this was – most people like to help, and the worst someone would probably do is ignore your request. What’s there to lose?
Thanks to her willingness to get out of her comfort zone and be brave, she went for it, and asked people for tips. She ended up getting a job interview with a company she had previously set her sights on. Even better, she was then offered an interview with another company which was even more appealing, and she accepted a job offer.
Ready for change.
My client was so ready for a change, and so determined, that she turned things around. She felt vulnerable, worried and unconfident. But she knew that she had to be proactive and that she couldn’t wait for a new job to appear. She had to make it happen.
Not long ago I saw that my client had posted a very open, vulnerable blogpost on social media, sharing her experience. A post that would likely help a lot of people struggling in the same way. Something my client would never in a million years have thought of doing when we first spoke. A sure sign her confidence has grown.
If you need help with planning your career change, sign up for a session with me here on LinkedIn. Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What do you do when you know you need to get out there – networking, contacting people, asking for help, meeting people – but you’re too scared? It can be a real issue when you’re trying to change career but are overwhelmed at the thought of all the people you’re going to have to contact.
I had a client who struggled with networking, Andrea. She didn’t have loads of friends, she found socialising tricky, and her confidence was low. She was well aware that her mindset could be quite negative.
Andrea’s dream was to work for a start-up, and write articles about entrepreneurship on the side. The thought of having to get in touch with people who she knew could help with her career change, was crippling her.
She’d have to apply for jobs. She could try to speak to people in the start-up industry who could give her some pointers or advise her about opportunities, maybe ask them for a phone chat or to meet for a coffee. In terms of the articles, she needed people to interview. She would have to make the first move in getting them involved.
Building up to it
Andrea knew that being more comfortable contacting people would be a massive step for her. It was important to her being able to move forwards.
So together we agreed that building up to networking was going to be challenging. But it would help both in progressing career wise and in building her confidence.
Breaking it down
But Andrea had lots of excuses! There was always a reason why she couldn’t do something, always a barrier. So we broke it down. What would doing each task actually look like, how could she prepare? Could she prepare questions, set a time limit on how long the call or coffee would be? Maybe it would help to create a list of contacts and tick them off one by one? We had a think about what was the worst that would happen, was it someone saying ‘no’? Could she cope with that?
Once we’d broken things down into small, easy steps, and prepared for the worst case scenario, Andrea felt calmer about networking. Slowly she followed the steps we’d set out, and things became easier for her. She realised how great it felt having a positive interaction, and saw that people responded well to her.
Do it your way
Andrea is coming on in leaps and bounds. She goes for things and doesn’t feel the same fear around contacting people for help. She made it into the start- up world by starting her own online travel advisory company on the side of her day-to-day job. She’s also completed various courses including and incubator training programme to learn more about the industry she’s interested in.
Networking doesn’t have to be roaming around ‘events’ desperately finding people to talk to. It can be about focusing on what you need, slowly and quietly doing things in your own way. And getting the results you need.
If you’d like to some coaching sessions with me, contact me at email@example.com or here on LinkedIn.
Smiling at strangers. It’s sometimes used as an initiation exercise to practise getting out of your comfort zone.
Walking along, randomly smiling at strangers. Potentially looking like a bit of a weirdo.
It’s the first step in doing something that might make you feel uncomfortable, nervous, out of your depth.
Getting out of your comfort zone
It’s widely considered that ‘getting out of your comfort zone’ is one of the best ways to grow as a person.
If you keep on doing what you know, things that are easy and feel safe and certain, then you aren’t taking risks, and opening yourself up to new experiences. Therefore, you’re not going to do much growing.
You aren’t building your confidence by succeeding in doing things you’ve never done before, or never dreamed you could do.
You aren’t proactively looking to change yourself for the better.
It’s daunting and cringey
Back to smiling at strangers. Some people would really struggle with it, and would find it daunting and cringey. Why would you smile at a stranger? Won’t they think I’m a bit mad? Or want something from them? Or – shock horror – about to talk to them?! Even worse, what if they then strike up a conversation?
Have a focus
It’s really hard to force yourself to do something you don’t particularly want to do. But – if you can see the benefit, and where this action might lead you, it makes it easier. You now have a focus.
You’re not just doing it for the sake of it, you’re doing it because you know you need to change. You need to shake things up a bit. You can’t keep doing what you’ve been doing, as you’re not happy with the result.
It could be that long-term you want to be better at networking. Maybe you wish you didn’t care so much what other people think.
I find smiling at strangers easy, I do it all the time. I’m a smiley person. But for me, being out of my comfort zone looks like public speaking, live TV, performing. Stand-up comedy? Not in a million years.
I actually have no desire to be on TV or perform. But I’d like to not have that irrational fear of public speaking, the few times I need to do it. And I’d like to care less what other people think.
So – I sometimes have to present to groups of people, which pushes me back out of my comfort zone. I regularly give webinars, which sometimes still makes me anxious.
Caring less what others think
And I’m currently more active on social media, (well, LinkedIn), and experimenting with writing posts and video. Partly as a way to connect with more people about my coaching business and the things that are important to me. Partly as a way to care less what others think, to worry less about expressing my own opinion in public.
How about you? What do you find tricky that you know will help you long-term if you can get more comfortable doing it? What would be pushing you out of your comfort zone?
If you’d like to try coaching with me, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or here on LinkedIn.
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.
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.
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.
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.