So many of the women that I talk to at this time of year tell me how their career confidence has taken a slump.
Why is that?
Is it the shortening days and the dark nights? The gloomy miserable weather? Or maybe you’re not feeling valued at work. Perhaps you didn’t get the bonus you expected. Your pay rise was disappointing. Or you missed out on promotion. Again.
I’m wondering if it’s because work tends to slow down in December and therefore your mind is more likely to wander to what you don’t have. And when you’re a busy mum, the whole work-life balance juggling act feels even harder when you are trying to negotiate the last-minute-school-Christmas-jumper-requests alongside writing Christmas cards, sorting out pet sitters, and figuring out whether you’ve got enough plates for everybody coming to Christmas dinner.
You don’t want to start the New Year feeling stuck. A bit wobbly. Lacking in self-belief. NO …. you want to start the New Year feeling feisty, positive and confident.
The 5 best ways for ambitious women to boost their career confidence
Here are the 5 best ways to boost your career confidence now and start the New Year with renewed zest. These are the strategies that I share with all my one-to-one and group clients.
Don’t add to your overwhelm and feel you have to do them all. Have a ready through and pick just one or two of these ideas. Then bookmark this page and come back to even more more career confidence boosting in January (or come and join me at my next one day Career Confidence masterclass).
1 – Celebrate your achievements
As we rush from one project to the next, one urgent report to the next, one client crisis to the next, it’s easy to forget what you have achieved through the year. We tend to focus on what went wrong rather than what went well.
Take time to list out all your achievements for the past 12 months. Everything that’s gone well. The little things as well as the big wins. What are you proud of? What did your clients love? What did your team finish on time and on budget? What are the highlights of your year?
It’s good practice to keep a running roll call of your achievements through the year. This gives you added confidence at review or appraisal time or if you’re applying for promotion.
Once you have your list, take time to reflect on what you have achieved and how you have done it. Give yourself credit for a job well done. If this was somebody else’s list, what would you be thinking about or saying to that person?
Celebrate your achievements and all you have done this year.
2 – Review feedback and testimonials
There’s nothing like an unexpected email from a client or a comment in a meeting from a colleague singing your praises to give you a little boost. What do you do with those emails and comments? Do you keep them? Many years ago when I was at Arthur Andersen, my manager Marilyn, seconded in from Chicago, taught me to file all those emails and comments in a “Kudos” folder.
Now is the time to review all those positive heart-warming words of praise. Read through them all. If you haven’t kept them in a separate folder in your email, create one now. Or print them out and keep a paper copy.
Go into your LinkedIn profile and read again the recommendations written about you. Don’t have any? Now’s a great time to ask people for recommendations. Not sure how to go about this, check out this article on the 7 essentials to get right on LinkedIn. No 5 is all about asking for recommendations. If you don’t ask, you won’t get.
3 – List your strengths and talents
Women in particular seem to be shy away from identifying, acknowledging and taking credit for their own strengths and talents.
Today then, I want you to write down a list of everything you are good at. And I want your list to have at least 30 things. Yes I know. That sounds a stretch.
If you run out of ideas and you’re not quite at 30, don’t stop, keep going. Think about the things you find really easy. The things you think are ‘common sense’. Because they’re probably the things you’re naturally talented at.
What do you LOVE to do? If you asked your manager, a colleague or a client, what would they say you are known for? What do work colleagues come to you for?
Get really specific. If you are brilliant at marketing, what is it specifically about marketing that is your strength? If you are good with clients, what is it that you do that’s different? Do you find it easy to strike up a conversation? Do you notice the shifts in body language? Are you able to capture the words and language that they prefer?
One great way of seeing your strengths and talents is to ask work colleagues or friends who know you well for feedback. Now that might feel a little awkward or a bit uncomfortable. (I get it – I really do. I emailed my whole mailing list a few days ago asking for feedback. Believe me, I know that this might feel a bit icky).
The good news – it doesn’t need to be. A quick simple email is all it takes (don’t be too wordy or too fluffy or you’ll get wordy & fluffy back!). Ask people you trust and who can be objective and honest. If it feels weird, tell them you have been set homework from a career development programme or a personal development course. (That’s what this blog is for you, right?). Whatever feels right for you.
If you’re not sure what to say, here’s the wording that works for my Career Confidence clients. Sometimes it’s easier to tweak somebody else’s words rather than start from scratch.
Hi there, I’d love a quick favour from you as part of a career & leadership development programme. Could you give me some feedback.
- What do you think I am good at?
- What do you think I could do more of?
- What do you think I could do less of?
Thanks so much for your help.
It only needs to be as simple as this.
4 – Identify your learnings
What are your learnings from the past year? What new skills have you learned? What have you learned about yourself?
Maybe you have attended formal training courses or workshop. Perhaps you have gained greater insights into your leadership skills and potential through coaching. Have you attended a conference or a networking event? What about articles you have read, TED talks you have watched, podcasts you have listened to?
What have you learnt about the people you work with? Your management team? Your clients? Your industry?
What mistakes have you made and what have you learnt about you, your team or your organisation as a result? Don’t just focus on the mistakes – look back at that list of achievements and pick out the learnings there too.
What has happened unexpectedly and how did you deal with the situation? Is there a lesson to learn?
The more you learn and understand what you have done, and how you can improve, the more your confidence will grow.
5 – Observe someone you admire
I love watching anybody who is brilliant at their job – whether that’s the runner at the Sky studios who makes sure every guest is looked after or the speaker on stage who captivates the audience with their story and presence.
This last idea might feel a bit ‘stalker-ish’. Bear with me. Think about somebody in the workplace or outside work that you admire and respect. Over the next few days, pay closer attention to how they behave, what they say at meetings, how they prepare for client reviews, the way they respond to feedback etc.
What do you notice? What similarities are there in the way this person behaves and the way you behave? What are the differences? What can you learn from this?
I’m not for one moment suggesting that you completely remodel yourself to replicate their behaviour and actions, however we can learn useful lessons from simple observation and reflection.
Over to you
Even though you might be feeling a slump in your career confidence, pick one or two of these ideas and I can guarantee you will experience a boost in your career confidence that will set you up for the New Year. Leave a note below and tell me which one you’re going to try first.
p.s. If you are feeling in a bit of a slump with your career confidence and not sure whether any of these ideas will work for you, or you’d just to talk it through with somebody objective, let’s have a conversation. My 30 minute career confidence calls are completely free of charge (daytime and some evening appointments available). You’ll get an opportunity to talk to a real expert about you, your career and your career confidence.