Think about the last time you felt really confident. Everything was working for you. Your hair was perfect, your clothes were on point, you were completely prepared for what the day had to bring, and you just KNEW that you were going to kill it. When was that? For a lot of us, it was our elementary school play. You knew your lines, your costume was perfect, and you were ready to nail your role as Willow Tree #4.
Have you felt that confident since? What about when you go to work every day? (Maybe not the perfect hair. If your hair is perfect every day, we want tips.) But when is the last time at work that you just knew you were ready and walked through the door ready to show it?
Whether it’s before a big presentation, or just going about your day, a lack of confidence can tank your career. So many of us, women especially, are plagued with doubts that affect us at work in ways that we don’t even realize. The Institute of Leadership and Management in the UK surveyed managers about their positions. More than half of the female respondents reported self-doubt at work, compared to fewer than one-third of the male managers. Imposter syndrome is real, and it can completely derail your career and life.
Does It Really Matter?
You probably already know that not feeling confident at work can lead to career-sabotaging behaviors such as not asking for raises or going after promotions, but a lot of women don’t realize the smaller, less obvious ways it can creep into your daily working life. Not feeling confident in yourself or your abilities keeps a lot of women from speaking up at work. They don’t offer opinions, they don’t ask questions, and they don’t volunteer for projects, preferring to blend into the background. The problem is that this very blending is exactly what you don’t want to do. You want to speak up, stand out, be noticed. You want people to think of your name when they hear of a great new project or an event.
So What Can You Do?
If you’re worried that your lack of confidence is affecting your work, there are ways to boost your self-esteem and get your career back on track. First, take an honest look at yourself. Is there any basis to your lack of confidence in certain areas? Are you lacking in some of the knowledge your co-workers or higher-ups have? If you are, that’s OK! There’s nothing wrong with not knowing the latest tech or social media platform. Make a point to learn it. You can take a class, learn it on your own, or, even better, reach out to someone you work with and ask them if they’d be willing to help you. This has the added bonuses of giving them a confidence boost of their own and making you more visible in the office.
Always Be Prepared
Confidence comes when someone is prepared when they walk into a meeting – they know their stories, they know the potential questions that could come their way, and more importantly they know what success looks like when the meeting is over (like those who know they’ll do well in an exam, because they are ready, they’ve been waiting for that moment)
Ask questions. No one understands every new concept the first time they hear about it or knows everything. Again, there’s no shame here. This just shows that you’re interested, you’re paying attention, and again, leads to people noticing you.
Call Your Mentor
Get a mentor. Mentors are essential for growing along your desired career path. If you’re doubting yourself, reach out to them. Hearing their belief in you and your abilities can go a long way toward boosting your own confidence.
Building up your confidence at work will take time, and it’s not easy, but it can be done. Tell us your story – Have you had to overcome a lack of confidence in your career? How did you do it? We’d love to hear about it!