How to develop your self confidence
Confidence is key to career success. You’re not going to get anywhere without at least a modicum of self confidence, no matter how awesome a person, or how much of a hard worker and creative individual you are. If you don’t have at least enough confidence to present yourself and get people to notice those other great qualities, those qualities ain’t worth squat.
Research supports this idea. One study at Penn State found that self confidence was the key factor to success, while another study reportedly shows that people with high self esteem earn an average of $78,927, compared to average earnings of $50,323 for those with low self esteem, a difference of almost $30,000.
OK, so we know that you must have at least a reasonable amount of self confidence to get anywhere, but that’s actually easier said than done for many. Even those of us who don’t think of ourselves as under-confident lose the plot a little when it comes to our careers. Suddenly you have to sell yourself, to write about yourself, to highlight what’s great about YOU. And that can be hard.
Take heart. It’s not an insurmountable obstacle, and there are myriad ways to develop your confidence. Chief among these is to fake it ‘til you make it. The idea here is that if you act confidently, even though you’re shaking in your shoes, you will feel confident. Some, like Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, authors of the Confidence Code, say this is bad advice, because “knowingly masquerading as something we’re not makes us anxious.” But I don’t buy it.
According to psychologist Amy Cuddy our body language affects both the way others see us and the way we see ourselves. Cuddy’s research has found that when subjects adopt what she calls “power poses,” they show increased power behaviours. They also show increased levels of testosterone – a hormone associated with power and leadership – and decreased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Subjects who adopted “low power poses,” on the other hand, saw a decrease in testosterone and an increase in cortisol. Watch Cuddy’s TED talk on the subject below.
Also, it makes sense that if you don a mantle of confidence and present yourself this way to others, once you start to feel convinced that you are convincing others, the confidence will become real. And you will convince others, because people are not looking as hard as you think they are for cracks in your armour.
Here are four more ways to develop your self confidence.
Exercise. It’s not exactly breaking news that exercise dramatically improves mental health and self esteem. If you’re feeling down on yourself, go for a walk, a run or a spin class. You will immediately feel more confident.
Do something that scares you “Do one small thing brave thing, and then the next will be easier. And soon confidence will flow,” is the advice of Kay and Shipman (via Business Insider). Doing one thing that scares you every day is old, sound advice. After all, bravery isn’t not being afraid, it’s being afraid and doing it anyway.
Change one small habit and keep it up. This is advice from Leo Babauta of Zen Habits. Babauta writes, “Change a small habit. Not a big one, like quitting smoking. Just a small one, like writing things down. Or waking up 10 minutes earlier. Or drinking a glass of water when you wake up. Something small that you know you can do. Do it for a month. When you’ve accomplished it, you’ll feel like a million bucks.” I would also suggest meditating for ten minutes a day as a potential idea. You’ll be less stressed and more confident as a result (note to self: start meditating again).
Put in your 10,000 hours. If you haven’t already. They say 10,000 hours is what it takes to be an expert at anything. So, practice whatever it is you want to be great at until you’re an expert. If that doesn’t give you confidence, I don’t know what will.
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