Ways to boost your confidence

By – Sally Longson

Confident people believe in their own abilities. It shows. The question is, how do you start building that belief? How can you get more confidence? You can read all the self-help books you want, but until you start actually doing things which stretch you, your confidence level will stay the same. Treat your confidence like an elastic band. What do most people do when they pick up an elastic band? They play with it, to see how far they can stretch it. Think of pushing back the boundaries as opening a door to a new world - you just need to walk through it.

It's important to go outside of your comfort zone, not just in work but outside it. It's amazing the way that once your confidence changes to expand, so does your mind and courage. You'll never want to go back to the same old you. Aim to start living out of your box in every area of life, not just your job. Stretch yourself - the more you do in life as a whole, the more you'll believe you can do and be able to do. Do you want to remain doing lower level work your whole life, or rise to the occasion, getting more perks, more responsibility and more self-respect? Just move outside of your box once - and you'll want to do it again. Things will start to flow from you as you unlock your potential - you'll be able to suggest, initiate, take decisions, have fun in what you're doing - and feel more fulfilled. Think of a door opening to a new world - you just need to walk through it.

Recognise that you're moving into a new territory. Yes, it takes nerves to do it, but if you've done it and if you don't do it again, you'll stay where you are. So if you're nervously contemplating whether you should do a particular thing, ask yourself and write down:

  • What's the worst that can happen?
  • What's the best that can happen?

You have to want to boost your confidence and one way to drive yourself forward to do it is to imagine that in 40 years' time, you're in exactly the same job, with the same boss, doing the same things, living in the same house with the same friends, eating the same food, reading the same books, looking at the same television programmes?I have deliberately put the word "same" in lots of times to give you an idea of how life might be if you don't expand your horizons. Life is for the living, so live it!

Make a start outside the office, if you prefer

If you don't think you're a very confident person, start by looking at what you've achieved on the job. This will give you an idea of your abilities. Look back to your first role or day on the job. How far have you moved on since then, in terms of your:

  • Confidence that you can handle any situation and anybody
  • Skills level
  • Experience
  • Knowledge about the company, its systems, procedures, who everybody is, where they are, the sorts of crises which crop up in your day
  • Knowledge about the sector you work in
  • Your relationship with your boss(es)

Are you ready to move on and do more in your role?

There comes a time in every job after that period where you've learnt the ropes, and feel as though it's time to do more. You may be saying to yourself, 'I can do more than this!' and look for an avenue to try. If this sounds like you, you're in danger of being stuck in a rut; you may see the results of the above exercise as evidence that you already are. You could seek out opportunities at work, but additionally, if you don't want to try anything new at work because it's too risky, try something outside it. You'll soon find you're ready and eager to take on new challenges.

Here are five ideas for doing something different and boosting your confidence outside of work:

  1. Adult education is a great way to meet people and expand your horizons. There's a range of courses to choose from, from keep fit, languages, cooking, local history, art? And you never know, they could lead to further study, more people within your network - and a new career!

  2. Go on a learning or volunteering holiday.

  3. Get involved in a voluntary group. You'll be able to transfer the skills and qualities you've developed accordingly to your role at work. It can give you a kick when you're down; boost your self-worth; and open you up to things you feel absolutely passionate about and want to make a contribution and difference to.

  4. Surround yourself by positive people. Their enthusiasm and energy will rub off on you. If you live your life alongside people who always take dismal approach, that will rub off on you, too.

  5. Look back to the last time you weren't sure whether to go for something, but did and it was a success. What were you worried about? How did you overcome your fears? How did you feel afterwards about what you'd done and what you'd learnt about yourself? Now - take that feeling forward. Imagine how you'll feel after you've done something you're thinking of doing. What qualities and resources do you have within you to help you though?

It's absolutely amazing how new-found confidence you acquire outside of the office flows straight back into your work environment.

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