Lapses in self-confidence are quite common. It’s perfectly normal to have moments or even periods of self-doubt. The crazy thing is that these times usually occur just when we need to be feeling our most confident, for example while looking for work or trying to answer a question like “What should I do with my life?” Not the biggest life challenges we’ll face, even if it feels like it at the time. Just ask anyone who works for a horrible boss or has been unemployed for a while.
I like to think of self-confidence as a combo of the ability to achieve goals (self-efficacy) and feelings of self-value (self-esteem). When one or both areas have been under siege, it’s a little hard for that self-confidence train to keep rollin’. Sometimes the train comes to an unplanned stop, outside of town, where the scenery is dull, coffee is weak, and internet access is intermittent.
Many of my clients need help with valuing their strengths, skills and experience – the self-esteem piece. This is fun, rewarding work. Do you know how cool it is when they start to see themselves as marketable and valuable professionals? Pretty damn cool.
But not achieving goals affects our confidence too. Specifically, how about every time we start something that we never finish (see self-efficacy above)? Sure, just making the effort is great (sorry, but you don’t get a trophy in the real world for every attempt), but if we don’t complete what we started, it sucks a little confidence out of sails. We might rationalize why it didn’t work, or justify why we changed course, but ultimately, setting and achieving goals does matter.
Here’s how to get started with boosting your confidence:
Start clearing out your incompletes. Get rid of all those projects that you started but never finished. Return borrowed items. Stop holding on to whatever is incomplete – that MBA you never finished, the sugar dish lid you need to glue together, or the clothes that don’t fit. Get rid of them.
Get rid of your career incompletes too. Finish your list of networking contacts. Finally let go of that job you didn’t get in 2004 or the promotion you were passed over for last year. Ask that networking contact to meet for coffee. This isn’t just about checking things off of your to-do list. It’s about clearing out incompletes that suck energy and focus. Your self-confidence is too important not to.