We all got 'em. At least, the lucky ones do.
Sometimes you lose confidence in your job though. You start coasting. You feel disconnected. You feel like the people around you are better at their jobs than you are at yours. You don't apply yourself like you once did. You get scared to make a change. You lose your self-confidence.
I see it over and over and over and over. And it's happened to me so I know how it feels.
If you want to be more confident in your job, here are nine ideas for you.
Ever find yourself running around trying to keep folks happy? Doing what you can to tick everyone's boxes but never your own?
People-pleasing is the habit of prioritising what you think other people want/need over your own wants, needs and priorities. Because as long as you keep everyone around you happy, you can't be judged, blamed or rejected.
But your job isn't to please everyone and tick all of their boxes, and all the while you're people-pleasing you're eroding your confidence and efficacy.
Recognise that your job is to apply yourself to your role, bring your best to it and deliver value. Not only is that how you'll do great work, it's how you maintain your confidence.
Look at Your Thoughts
Feeling a lack of confidence—like somehow you don't have what you need to do what you want or have the experience you want—is normally a product of the thoughts in that wonderful head of yours.
In a meeting, for example, you think that when it's your turn to speak you have to have the perfect answer or impress others. When faced with a new problem or thorny issue, you tell yourself "I have no idea what I'm doing or how to handle this". Or when there's a difference of opinion and you have an idea to share, you think that maybe you shouldn't speak up because others are probably right and your idea might not get heard.
Take a look at those specific thoughts and the things you tell yourself in different circumstances. Write them down, even. Because all the time you're unaware of them they'll continue to call the shots, shape your experience and hurt your confidence.
It's only with that clarity that you get to notice those thoughts and how they're really impacting you. And with that awareness you get to make some new thoughts, some different thoughts, some thoughts that serve you better, thoughts that enable you to be more confident in your job.
Use What You've Got
I bet two things are true about you:
- you don't give yourself credit for your strengths talents, achievements and experience
- you give others credit for their strengths, talents, achievements and experience
You've come a long way. Learned so much. Developed skills. Built strengths. Used talents. Leveraged experience. You're wired with so much that makes you powerful and effective, but rarely do you give yourself credit for those things or deliberately trust them and lean into them.
So get clear on the assets you have, the things that aren't going anywhere that you can always use. Knowing those things and trusting those things is confidence.
Be Done with Perfectionism
Perfectionism is the belief that if you do things perfectly and present yourself as perfect, then nobody will judge you, blame you or reject you. It's toxic like a plutonium pie.
But you and I both know there's no such thing as perfect, and I'm sure you know how frustrating and exhausting life is when perfection is your goal.
Instead of seeking perfection out of self-protection, simply seek to engage out of self-actualisation.
Compare No More
Go to any workplace and you'll find comparisons. Comparisons that put put others ahead of you in terms of their capability, skill, experience, talents, even attractiveness at the cost of your own confidence and sense of self. Comparisons that put you ahead of others, bolstering your own perceived position at the cost of others and at the cost of compassion, empathy and truly natural confidence.
Truth is, there will always be people who are better and worse at stuff than you. That doesn't impact how you engage, what you can do and what you bring to the table. You don't need to compare yourself with anyone.
You only need to do you.
Take the Pressure Off
Work can often be a struggle. Deadlines. Expectations. Pressure. All those demands and stresses can sometimes motivate you in the short-terms, but they have a cumulative effect over time, stripping your energy, efficacy and confidence.
Stress is often your body's response to feeling a lack of control, so when you feel that pressure take a step back and give yourself some space. Look for where you can engage at your best rather than struggle. Look for where you're flapping your wings against the bars of a perceived cage, and turn that energy onto one thing that would make a difference. Look for the dramatic stories you're telling yourself about the pressure, and remind yourself how far you've come and how damn capable you are.
Sometimes taking the pressure off yourself is making a choice to engage differently.
Make Clear Boundaries
I've been in roles where I replied to emails and texts far into the evening and on weekends. I've been in roles where work ran roughshod over my personal time and personal priorities. I've been in roles where I said yes to things (sometimes explicitly, sometimes by not saying no) that cost me.
Boundaries are the things you put in place to make sure you're respecting your own priorities, energy, time and values. Without them, all bets are off.
A boundary might be as simple as not checking or replying to work emails after 6pm. Maybe you carve out 8am to 9am on a Saturday morning to help set you up for the week coming, and no more than that. A boundary might demand you stick to your guns when you're asked to cut a corner or do something that flies in the face of something that matters to you. Or it might mean that you sever ties with something toxic.
Honoring your boundaries is essential if you want to maintain confidence in your job (and life).
Coast at Your Peril
Having a safe and comfortable job sure does feel good. Knowing there's a pay packet at the end of the month is a huge tick in a bigger box. And having a job that's known and totally do-able removes a whole lot of potential stress.
But sometimes that comfort and safety turns into coasting. It turns into staying exactly where you are because moving or changing or growing is just too damn hard and difficult and risky. And in that place your confidence shrivels like a forgotten balloon.
I have nothing against comfort and safety, except for when that comfort and safety comes at the cost of your sense of self and your self-confidence. At that point, you have to make some deliberate choices. To take back the power of choice you've always had. To take something of a stand in your own life.
When your confidence has suffered because you've coasted, you gotta switch from treading water to kicking up dust
And that takes us towards growth.
The kind of growth that stretches you, that places you somewhere new (even just a little bit at first), and that requires you to apply confidence.
Think about what growth looks like for you. Is it learning a new professional skill? Is it taking on a new kind of project? Is it taking a new role (sideways, diagonally or tangentially)? Maybe it's looking at the quality of experience you want to have and working to put those elements in place. Or maybe it's looking at a soft skill, or working on yourself (a long-time block or limiting belief).
Confidence helps growth happen, and growth feeds your confidence. It's a win-win.
There's bad news and good news.
Bad news is, being more confident in your job won't happen by accident. You won't magically wake up one morning feeling supremely confident. It needs deliberate choice and it needs meaningful action. And that can feel scary as hell.
Good news is, feeling more confident in your job is entirely doable and spectacularly achievable. People do it every day, and that possibility and achievability exists for you too. It just needs you to choose it.