10 Tips for Building Confidence
Confidence is a strange thing. Many of our clients consistently excel in their professional and personal lives. They are certain they are capable of completing pretty much anything they set out to do. But why, for example, when it comes time to rewrite their résumé or prepare for an interview, are they suddenly unsure of their abilities and qualities? How can we help our clients gain the confidence they need in all aspects of their work and life? Drawing on my own experience, I’d like to offer my tips for building and strengthening confidence.
First, What is Confidence?
To have confidence is to trust in one’s self — to be self-assured about inherent abilities and qualities. According to Wikipedia, confidence comes from the Latin word “fidere,” which means “to trust.”
My Personal Story
I am self-taught in a lot of things. I’ve completed a diploma and a few certificates. As of now, I am almost halfway through a master’s program. I work full-time, teach part-time, mentor, and volunteer when I can — all with a 6-year old to care for and a house to maintain. Why am I telling you all this?
I do not like school, nor do I like assignments or tests! These things are certainly out of my comfort zone. What I do know is, to get to where I want to be, I have to be positive and have a Plan A, B, C, and even a D. Everything I have accomplished thus far has been instrumental to moving forward in my professional and personal life. Along the way, I have gained confidence in my skills, my qualities, and in the life path I’m following.
It’s not always an easy journey. There has been a lot of self-reflection, self-assessment, and research. But, I am very happy with my accomplishments and what I’m doing now. Although it’s a challenge, having confidence made my decision to enrol in the master’s program last year a bit easier.
Okay, here are my tips for building self-confidence — at least, these are the steps that worked for me!
1) Get to Know Yourself
We are all busy with life and we often do not take the time for self-introspection. This step was critical in highlighting my qualities and accomplishments. I took it a step further and asked the people I know well what my strengths are. Fortunately, I surround myself with positive people, and there is one individual in my corner who is always questioning and pushing me to be my best self. I learned a thing or two about myself that I never noticed, such as my compassion for others, and my ability to actively listen. This brings me to a tip that deserves to be highlighted…
2) Surround Yourself With Positive People
How do the people closest to you make you feel? This group can include your family members, friends, and work colleagues. Do they make you feel happy and optimistic, or do they bring you down? Do they build your confidence, or seem intent on breaking it down?
The people we spend time with can influence our attitudes and the way we think about ourselves. It can be a very interesting exercise to start paying attention to how others make you feel when you’re with them, and even afterwards. If you feel unsettled and bad about yourself after spending time with someone, it may be time to say goodbye.
3) Adjust Your Outlook
Having the right attitude makes a drastic difference. Learning more about myself provided a positive outlook. I think of career planning as planning for my future and acknowledging my experience and accomplishments with pride. At 45 years old, it is not too late to take on a Master’s program, or anything I set my mind to. I started in spring 2021 and I am already almost halfway there.
4) Take Time for Yourself
Where do I find the time? Every minute matters to me. I did not want to bring up the pandemic, but it truly did put a few things into perspective, and time for me was one of those things. While not an athletic person by any means, I did make the effort to step away from everything work-related to “just be.” That meant many different things such as heading to the kitchen for a snack or drink and having it there in silence, walked around the house or stepped outside for air, stared out the window, and all without my phone attached to my hand. I felt at ease and at peace during these ‘me’ times. Each time I was more clear-headed and ready to go, with energy I didn’t think I had anymore. The bottom line? Take care of your body and mind and do more of what makes you happy!
5) Plan and Prepare a Course of Action
When I make up my mind to do something, I can be stubborn. It’s not confidence, just plain old stubbornness. But, I confess that planning and preparing boosts my confidence because diving into anything can be overwhelming. I gave myself enough time when planning so I have the time to take a break throughout the process. I bring out the old fashion pen and paper to build my strategy and for me this identifies where I need to adjust or if I am on the right track. Remember, nothing has to be perfect the first time.
6) Do Research
To gain more confidence and better prepare myself, I researched prospective universities and made my ABC list. C: universities I might want to attend; B: universities that look good with strong possibilities; A: universities I really wanted to be a part of. I was not comfortable contacting the universities for information, mainly because I did not hold a Bachelor’s degree and did not think I was cut out for this. I started with the C list to learn about the application process and requirements. By the time I got the A list, I knew the right questions to ask.
The more research I did, the more knowledge I gained, the more confident I felt.
7) Follow-Through and Get Things Done
As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Start small and work your way through increasingly challenging tasks or goals. Breaking each thing down into manageable steps makes it easier to follow through. The sense of accomplishment with the small wins provides a boost in confidence each time.
8) Track Your Progress
There are many strategies for tracking your progress toward goals. Whether it’s pen and paper, making notes on your computer, or building a road map, tracking your progress keeps you on the right path and schedule. I personally use a road map, which includes my goals along with milestones and timelines. This tool is visual proof of my progress.
9) Make Positive Self-Talk a Daily Habit
Positive self-talk can make you feel good about yourself and the things that are going on in your life. I wake up each morning and tell myself, “It’s going to be a good day,” or “I am going to accomplish what I need to today, and if I don’t finish, that’s okay.” Being kind to myself and allowing for some flexibility in the events of the day takes the pressure off and I find myself being more productive.
10) Be Brave
You’ve enjoyed some wins so why not try something you’ve never done before. Set yourself a new goal outside your comfort zone. Then, make the next goal even further outside your comfort zone! Think of it as building up your confidence muscle.
Be Confident in You!
Following these tips can make the process of building up confidence a fun and fulfilling exercise. Remember to go in with the right attitude, give yourself time, plan, do your research, and most importantly, recognize your worth.
What steps have you taken to become more confident? And what additional tips would you pass on to those of us looking to strengthen our own confidence?
Felisha Ali is a full-time Learning & Development Specialist and a part-time professor teaching Career Planning at Seneca College. She is a CPC member and volunteer, and a Career Development Practitioner. In her full-time role, Felisha provides career development and well-being knowledge and guidance, and facilitates career development workshops for Seneca College employees. In her part-time role, Felisha is dedicated to helping her students succeed on their career paths. She is currently undertaking a Master of Education in Educational Leadership. When she is not working, Felisha volunteers as a mentor helping new immigrants with résumé and interview assistance. She also loves to cook and is a mom to an intelligent 6-year-old who keeps her on her toes.