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.

Photo by The CEO Kid on Unsplash

Common barriers to career change

I recently spoke to a friend of a friend, M, about her work. She finds her current job stressful and she can’t see herself carrying on all the way through to retirement. We got talking about what she’d always dreamed of doing – working in interiors and decoration. And seeing the way she lit up talking about it…I asked her if she’d ever consider trying to move into it. But as we talked it was obvious there were a few barriers stopping her from thinking it could ever be possible.

The barriers M put in her way are really common. I don’t have the time. Other people are already doing the work. I’d need a qualification. The courses I’ve seen are far away and too expensive.

What’s it worth?

M was interested in taking a course to learn more and had looked into a couple. But the fact that they were pricey and bit of a distance away was an obstacle. I asked if the prospect of learning more, of enjoying exploring the world of design, of meeting like minded people, could be worth it. M admitted she’d love to give it a try.

So is it worth saving up or cutting back to afford it? Is it a potentially worthy investment? Could she find a way of prioritising the time she’d need to travel there and back?

The qualification issue

Another of the most common barriers, M felt she would need a qualification in order to set up and be taken seriously. I asked her – if someone could teach you how to do something, or could do it for you (with amazing results), would you care if they had a qualification or not?

I know some careers do require rigorous training and it may be the case that a certain level of education is required to be an interior designer. But in so many careers knowledge and experience count for a lot. And there’s always the possibility of studying for a qualification alongside getting work experience or during the very early stages of starting a business. I started coaching while studying for my coaching qualification. This doesn’t have to be a barrier.

For example, say I want to decorate my house. Imagine I have a bit of a budget, but zero interest in actually doing the research and searching for items or considering aesthetics. I would totally want to pay for the services of someone with amazing taste, whose own house is beautifully decorated, and who can make the transformation easy for me.

And get this – M mentioned that a few friends had commented on her style, or hinted that they’d love her to makeover their houses. I got excited hearing this! Proof there’s a market for her and proof she doesn’t necessarily need a qualification to get started. She could get started working with friends, and see what happens with word-of-mouth.

Timing

In her free time M’s pinning decoration images on Pinterest and obsessively scanning Instagram. We agreed that dedicating even 30 minutes a week would be time well spent on exploring this potential new career. She can put that research to good use! And use the time to set up working for a friend for free, or calling to find out more about the course and enrolling, or working out what niche she’d focus on. Maybe seeing if she can interview or shadow someone local working as a interior designer. Step-by-step.

What if

So often we put pressure on ourselves when it comes to trying something new, putting immediate barriers in place. What if I don’t enjoy it, what if I change my mind and am no longer interested? What if it’s not for me?

Well on the other hand, what if it’s amazing – and changes everything?

The worst could be that you start taking small steps into that world, and realise you don’t enjoy it. This will help you decide that its not the path for you. You’re still a step ahead. You’re getting closer to what you want. It’s not a step back. You’ve set the gears in motion for change. You’ve shaken things up and you’re showing yourself that you’re taking yourself seriously. You can build on this.

Side Hustle

For instance M could offer her services for free and then use the results as a portfolio/case study. Go through the process with a friend/’client’ and learn from the experience. See if she actually enjoys it and if the client is pleased with the outcome (maybe following up with a questionnaire or asking for a testimonial). Was anything tricky? What could be improved? Did anything go well? Did she feel under qualified?

This could all be done on the side of carrying on with her full time employment. I’m not suggesting quitting and starting from scratch. M can slowly build up her experience, and be sure it’s a career path that appeals.

Lightbulb moment

Finally, with I visited M’s home, I was struck by the fact that she’s probably got the most stylish house I’ve seen for a couple with young kids. Her young daughters’ bedroom had simple, lovely colours, kid appropriate but not garish. In one corner of the room there was a massive leafy plant in front of a big shuttered window, with light filtering through. There was excellent storage so there weren’t toys all over the place. Somehow this all changed the room from any old kids bedroom to ‘dream’ kids bedroom.

Their home was sleek, stylish and not overrun with kids stuff. It struck me – that could be her niche. How to have a beautiful home when you’ve got kids. How to achieve the stylish, zen-like look even if your day-to-day is as chaotic as everyone else’s.

Her dream is so big and exciting, and seems so far away that she can hardly contemplate it one day being a reality. But once M can get over her mindset blocks and start believing it could one day be possible, all she needs to do is start taking small steps to make it happen. It might take a while, but it’s possible.

Want some help with your mindset?

Let me know if you’d like to speak to me about moving forwards with your big dreams, and dealing with your mindset. Removing barriers. I can help! I love doing this. I’ll help you to see the possibilities, and we’ll work out a plan together. Email me at joaopoku@gmail.com to make a booking.

Photo by Manja Vitolic on Unsplash

This will change your world. Period.

One day, when I was living in Paris, a friend and I made a discovery. It turned out we both had one day every single month when we would feel sad and cry for no apparent reason. We figured out that it was always the day before our period. It was quite the revelation. This ‘sad day’ wasn’t out of the blue, it was regular as clockwork. And it was all due to hormones.

But somehow I managed to forget all about this discovery. Every month would come round. I’d have a day or two feeling really sad, blue, wondering what was wrong with me. And then the next day I’d get the answer, oh yes, I was due my period.

I loosely kept track of when my period should come. I’d note in my diary a star on the first day of my period and a question mark on the day 25 days late. Even so, I would without fail forget about the ‘sad day’.

A hormone tracker changed her world

The first time I properly considered how my menstrual cycle affects me was only a year or two ago when I read an article. The journalist had just discovered a free hormone app tracker, and it changed her world.

A very brief summary is that we have four stages of our menstrual cycle. Our hormones are doing different things during each stage. These hormones affect our mood, appetite, energy levels, desire for socialising (along with other things going on in our lives, of course).

Rising oestrogen in week one (the first day of your period and the days following) gives you a surge of positivity and good feelings (having felt fairly crap during week 4). Week 2, as oestrogen continues to rise, you’re likely to feel more upbeat, confident and resilient. Week 3 you’ll probably be feeling quite mellow and sleepy (due to rising progesterone), and week 4 it’s likely you’ll feel irritated, a bit blue, generally p*ssed off at the world as oestrogen is now dropping. (I’d advise you to read up on this, I’m no scientist).

It was amazing to finally understand why some weeks I feel confident, full of energy and good vibes, wanting to socialise every night. Then other weeks I can’t bear to be around too many other people, wanting to cancel all social engagements and just lie on the sofa watching tv.

Amongst other things it also affects productivity; some weeks I’m super motivated and on a roll, others my pep is limited.

We should cut ourselves some slack

The reason I’m sharing this is so that you can learn to cut yourself some slack. We women are good at giving ourselves a hard time. Those days when there is lots to do. Your to-do list is infinite, but you’re low on energy. You just want to sleep, you’re irritated, you’re crabby, you’re uninspired – there’s a reason. It’s probably because your hormones are doing their thing (and let’s not forget diet, sleep, exercise, personal issues etc etc all play a part too).

Give yourself a break. Sooner or later the week of your cycle will come around where you’re positive, full of energy, a can-do attitude and great ideas.

If you’re going through a career change or looking to make changes in other areas of your life, it can be tough to stay motivated and focused. There are lots of emotional issues going on. There’s quite possibly a lot of negative chatter, your brain’s way of keeping you safe and within your comfort zone. And then on top of that your mood, confidence and energy are all affected by your hormones.

Plan ahead

My advice is to read up a little on hormones, or download one of the many free hormone tracker apps out there. Build your awareness. You’ll start to figure out which week’s great for networking, contacting people, charging ahead with your plans. And which week is a good time for reflection and slowing down. You can start to make plans with this knowledge in mind.

Even with what I’ve learned, I still have to remind myself all this on a weekly or even daily basis. It’s easy to forget. Sometimes you’re feeling the way you feel, simply because of…hormones.

If you’d like to try life coaching with me, send me an email at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Jealous Weekends on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

2 Ways to Build Confidence for Career Change

 

It’s been said that the three major things to hinder career change are time, money and confidence.

Today I’m going to focus on confidence. A big one.

My story

Prior to my own career change, my confidence levels were not high.

I’d lost confidence in my abilities at work. I would see other people in the office on the phone, or in client meetings, chatting so confidently and seemingly at ease. Whilst I was a bundle of nerves.

It affected my mindset. I didn’t enjoy the work, I was intimidated by it, and I had no real desire to do it. There was this mixture of apathy and fear. Not a good combination.

So as much as I wanted to make a change and find work that really spoke to me, I couldn’t see clearly what I had to offer. I’d been at that job for so long that it was hard to recognise my abilities out of that context.

As I associated my abilities with that specific role, I didn’t really want to think about them. Sales, negotiating – I’d had enough and it was like I’d hit a brick wall.

But I spoke to a coach who helped me to see things objectively, not an easy task when you are feeling so emotional. However she helped me distinguish between whether or not I enjoyed using those skills in that context, and whether or not I was actually in possession of those skills and could apply them elsewhere.

Tip 1 – rethink what you’re good at

If you’re struggling with your confidence,  I’d recommend doing this with a coach, a good friend or someone in your family. Sit together and come up with a list of all the skills you use in your work. Do you have to communicate clearly, negotiate, give presentations, write concisely?

Also add a list of the things you feel you are good at, whether in or out of work. Are you super organised, brilliant at coming up with ideas, able to connect with other people easily?

Then objectively, together, evaluate these skills. Score yourself out of 10. Particularly pinpoint those you don’t feel confident about, or that you’re sick of. Take out the emotion. As much as you may not enjoy it – you probably actually use this skill really effectively, and have a huge amount of experience in using it. Try to back your score up with examples. Maybe imagine how you’d view the situation if it were a colleague in your place.

You might surprise yourself.

The main aim here is to realise that you have many skills and talents that can be put to excellent use elsewhere.

Tip 2 – read about inspiring people

Prior to, during, and after my career change, I also read a lot of books that I picked directly to help me with my confidence levels, such as Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway. Over time, these books reinforced the message that I could do whatever it was that I wanted. I just had to get started.

I read so many books and articles from impressive women who had done brilliant things. They said that the only difference between them and anyone else was that they chose to go ahead and get on with things. These women weren’t necessarily more talented, creative or intelligent. They all had the distinguishing feature of just getting their heads down and step-by-step working towards accomplishing what they wanted.

Find inspiration

I found articles and blogposts about other women who had gone through a career change. There were stories similar to my own. Seeing that these women had moved on and were now doing work that they enjoyed or even loved, inspired me.

Gradually it helped change my mindset. I realised that I do have loads to offer, and actually more opportunities than most; I was just getting in the way of moving myself on, by giving in to fear.

Bit by bit I developed a more positive, brave, explorative mindset. I learned about putting yourself out of your comfort zone, how it can be excruciating but the more you do it, the more you develop resilience. So often I felt uncomfortable, unsure and awkward. I accepted that part of the process to moving on is to feel this way.

Bonus – read these books
Here are some of the books that helped with developing confidence and made me excited to find my own path. Maybe they will inspire you too:
  • Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso
  • You’re a Badass by Jen Sincero
  • The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
  • Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers
  • Be Your Own Life Coach by Fiona Harrold
  • Lucky Bitch by Denise Duffield-Thomas
  • Are We There Yet? by Sarah Alderson
  • This Year Will Be Different – Monika Kanokova

I hope you find these tips useful if you’re letting confidence hold you back. You can build it back up.

If you’d like to try a coaching session with me, working on building your confidence, send me an email at: joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

 

When one big decision leads to the next

 

I listened to a podcast the other day (Mary Portas’s ‘Work Like a Woman’, interviewing Elizabeth Day) where at one point they talked about how making a decision and taking a big risk can lead to realising your own strength, growing resilience and therefore being more willing to take more risks.

The conversation resonated with me. It’s so true.

It took a huge amount of nerve to leave my corporate job a few years back. I seemed to be going against common knowledge or advice, leaving a good, well paid job, with plenty of benefits like swanky lunches with clients and insider invites to fashion sales.

But I went with my gut, did what I knew was right for me, and left.

It was a big risk. I spent the next few months veering between terror and liberation. One minute nervous about money and what I’d do next. The next super excited at being able to choose the direction I wanted my life to move in.

I was consciously deciding to take control. That felt amazing, like a superpower. I realised I could actually make decisions for myself, about my life, rather than just go along some conveyor belt of ‘what you’re supposed to do’. It was a revelation.

And it was a feeling I didn’t forget. After a few months of taking on a new job which I loved and which allowed me to work remotely, I realised I still felt unsettled. There was a nagging feeling that something didn’t feel right.

That was when I acknowledged the secret desire I’d been keeping pushed down for years, that I wanted to live abroad again.

I saw my opportunity. I was working from wherever I wanted, home, my parents’ house, a cafe…surely I could do the same job from another country, as long as I had wifi and could travel back from time to time?

It was a really scary thought – leaving my flat, my family and friends, my city, my routine…for the unknown. But deep down I knew that I wanted it. And as I’d already recently made one big scary life changing decision, I just knew that I could do it again, and do it successfully.

Because I’d survived the unknown before. I’d prepared myself sufficiently and it had worked out really well. Again I prepared myself for the worst that could happen. The worst would be that it all went terribly wrong in Spain, and I’d come back to the UK and live with my parents until I sorted myself out again.

Way back when I was thinking about leaving my previous job, I’d started on a journey of designing the kind of life I wanted to live. I knew that sometimes you have to follow your heart, follow the excitement, be prepared for risks and discomfort. This was the next step. And I was flexing my big decision making muscle once again.

***

Got a big decision to make? What next small step can you take to help make that decision? Is it writing a list? Talking to someone? Doing some research?

If you need help in planning your next steps in making a big life changing decision (or in making less dramatic, more low-key changes) contact me for some coaching sessions. Email me at joaopoku@gmail.com. I would love to help.

Photo by Lubo Minar on Unsplash