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2024 Virtual Return to Work Conference, May 14-16

5 Tips for Increasing Confidence

It’s no secret that relaunchers struggle with confidence. Jumping back into the workforce is hard—and our self-doubt makes it harder.

As relaunchers, we question our ability. Can we handle the job requirements? Learn new skills? Juggle both a job and a family? These thoughts reverberate in our brains further eroding our confidence and making it even harder to relaunch our careers. So, how do we break out of this vicious cycle?

Stop apologizing, say Katty Kay and Claire Shipman in their book, The Confidence Code (affiliate link); then start “acting and risking and failing.” If this sounds counter-intuitive, check out with these five tips from The Confidence Code to learn some surprising strategies to boost your confidence.

1. Stop trying to be perfect.

Aiming for perfect keeps us from acting. And failure to act makes us stuck. It’s paralyzing. Northwestern University’s Catherine Carrigan is quoted as saying, “perfect is the enemy of done.” Done is good. Done is a lot better than stressing about trying.

2. Practice self-compassion.

Don’t beat yourself up. Be kind. I recently read a post that asked if you would ever say the mean things you say to yourself to a friend. We are hard on ourselves. It doesn’t make us better; it wears us down. It makes us depressed (or at least blue.) And that paralyzes us. If you tried something and failed, so what? At least you tried. Trying is good. You did something. Learn from it and try again. Adopt Thomas Edison’s attitude when he said, “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways (to build a light bulb) that won’t work.” It worked out pretty well for him.

3. Don’t take things personally.

Kay and Shipman suggest adopting a “playground mentality.” Women tend to do well in the classroom where instructions are well-defined. We are rewarded for following the rules, coloring inside the lines, taking direction and staying orderly. Men like the playground where things are not so structured, where there’s name calling and pushing and shoving and the occasional brawl. Life is a lot more like a playground. Women follow all the rules and sometimes we don’t win. Sometimes we don’t get the job even though we were the most qualified. Sometimes we get feedback we don’t agree with. We take the burden on ourselves—it must be something we did wrong. But it’s not always us. In fact, often it has nothing to do with us. Develop a thicker skin. Process the feedback. Accept what seems rational and work to improve. Otherwise, move on. You tried. You learned something. You got stronger. You got smarter.

4. Have a growth mindset.

After action, the biggest confidence builder is mastery. (It also fights ageism.) Interestingly, confidence is not universal. A person may be very confident in one area (say golf or writing or skiing) and not confident in another area (say public speaking, coding, or using a CRM program). But practice builds mastery. If you are not confident doing a video interview, practice. You will become more confident. Remember when we were all learning Zoom? It’s easier now. There are online courses to help. There are certificate programs to certify your mastery. Mastery, action, and confidence are related. You can’t master something without action and it’s hard to build confidence without mastery.

5. Celebrate your strong points.

Be YOU. In general, women are better than men at collaboration, process orientation, persuasion, and humility. In general, men are considered more aggressive, assertive, and confident. A Stanford Business School Study showed that women who combined their feminine strengths with some male strengths were the most successful of all.

Want to learn more? Hear from Claire Shipman firsthand in Episode 100: 3, 2, 1, iRelaunch’s 100th podcast Episode: “Building Back Your Confidence.”

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