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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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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My to-do list is out of control! Dealing with procrastination and productivity – 5 easy steps

I spoke to a client the other day who is struggling with overwhelm and productivity. Life is busy and stressful, and she has big plans for herself.

As well as wanting to transform her career, she wants to transform the way in which she lives her life.

She wants more autonomy in how she spends her time, more opportunity to focus on her areas of expertise, and time to pursue new hobbies or things she wants to learn.

Productivity, focus, procrastination

After talking to her it got me thinking of productivity, focus and procrastination. These are the key areas which affect getting things done aren’t they?

You want to be really focused on what you want to achieve, really productive in how you spend your time getting there. And then our friend procrastination comes along, getting in the way.

Indecision

I started to look at my own situation and realised that I too feel pulled in all sorts of directions. I have all these great ideas, I put them on a list of ‘things to do’, and then before I know it I’m crippled by indecision. Where to start? Is this idea really worth the time? Should I be focusing on something else?

The teeny tiny first step

I’ve recently discovered the idea of breaking down a big old ‘thing to do’ into the very smallest possible steps, in order to actually get started and make progress.

For example, take a potentially awkward phone call I’ve been putting off. I’ll write down these three steps on my to-do list.

1. Literally just finding and noting down the phone number to call as the first task (ie a Google search).

2. Next, planning what I’m going to say, or noting down what I need to find out. Writing down a few lines to fall back on.

3. Finally, picking up the phone and making the call.

You tick each item off the list as you accomplish it. It sounds so obvious but physiologically it helps me just do stuff. What might have been pushed back and pushed back becomes doable.

Too much at once

However I’ve realised that I often start one thing on my list, just to get started. I then look at a completely different ‘to-do’  and take the first small step there. I’ll swiftly move on to another – to feel as though I’m covering all bases, making progress all round. The result is I end up with lots of half-done unsatisfactory unfinished things.

I looked to a book for inspiration. One that’s always at the back of my mind but that I’ve never fully read (what’s going on there?) is Essentialism by Greg McKeown. I read the first chapter and loved his ethos. As his website says:

“The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s not about getting less done. It’s about getting only the right things done.”

Essentialism

It’s all about prioritising. Only focusing on the essentials – not the fluffy extras that are time wasting opportunities. Your productivity will surely improve.

So I decided to pick my top priority from my to-do list – what’s the one thing that’s going to push me forwards the most? Then I’d break that task down into tiny bite-sized pieces, and work on these tasks only, until it is complete.

It works

And do you know what? So far it is working. I highlighted the two most urgent important tasks on my to-do list,  and listed all the little steps to get each done. Then I picked one, ignored the other, and solidly worked my way through the steps.

It helped that I picked something I was excited to learn about: I wanted to share a blogpost on Pinterest, where people can download my free vision board ebook.

I was so buoyed by my success that I felt full of energy and ready to start my second top priority task.

Chances are if I hadn’t applied this tactic I’d still be procrastinating, searching and reading articles about both tasks and not actually getting on with making them happen.

What you can do

So there we have it. My productivity tips:

  1. Read Essentialism before me.
  2. Highlight 1-3 of your top priority tasks on your to-do list.
  3. List each teeny tiny easy step you need to complete for each one (I’m talking mind numbingly easy like 1. watch Youtube video on creating a Pinterest account, 2. sign up to create a Pinterest account, 3. watch Youtube video on creating a board on Pinterest…).
  4. Pick one top priority task and get to work, step by step. Ignore all else until it is completed.
  5. Feel smug.

I hope this helps if you are feeling overwhelmed and your to-do list is out of control! Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

If you’d like to try a life coaching session with me, send me an email at joaopoku@gmail.com. You can sign-up for a free 30 minute Skype call with me.

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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.

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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.

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