Women’s confidence has taken a blow because of years of oppression, discrimination, struggling for basic rights, safety issues, and other obstacles. A woman might hesitate to speak up in meetings, fearing that her contributions will be more closely scrutinized than those of her male counterparts, or she might even refrain from applying for promotions because of a lack of faith in her qualifications. Consequently, low self-confidence can hinder you from reaching your full potential professionally.
A deficit of confidence can inhibit not just your career performance and future but also your income. A recent survey by international staffing firm Robert Half revealed that 68% of men negotiated for a higher salary in 2018, versus just 45% of women. Although over time, more and more professionals have proactively sought an increase in salary, women have historically been less likely to do so.
Silencing self-doubt and embracing self-confidence are key to a truly successful career. Here are some steps you can take to increase your confidence at work.
- Cultivate a Positive Inner Voice
We all have an inner critic, and although that voice is often what pushes us to work harder and strive for bigger and better things, it can also be very detrimental if we let it focus on what we may have done wrong or why we are not good enough. Cultivating this voice so that it is encouraging, rather than critical, is therefore essential. We must not let our criticisms get the best of us.
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
We must never allow our second thoughts to deconstruct our motivation.
Try to be intentional about your mind-set. When you notice your subconscious turning negative, pause and look for ways to reframe these thoughts in a positive, constructive way. Being your own biggest cheerleader can go far in helping boost your confidence. We must accept our inner narratives and trust our instincts. No one knows us better than ourselves, and hence, we must never surrender the remote of our life to anyone. We possess the power to define our worth, and your worth should always be positive.
2. Define Your Purpose
Do you truly know what motivates you to get out of bed every morning? Being cognizant of your particular purpose—understanding who you are, what you want, and what is important to you—is an important part of building your confidence to act. So, take the time necessary to consider and identify what this driving force is for you. What gives you satisfaction in your career? What goals have you set for yourself? What impact do you want to make? Understanding your unique identity and mission and keeping them at the forefront of your mind will impel you to push past your self-imposed limitations and accomplish what you were meant to do.
3. Own Your Solutions with Confidence
Problems are a natural and unavoidable part of life. But if you come to the table focused on answers rather than problems, you will already be well on your way to propelling yourself and your business past any obstacles that may arise. Having a solutions-focused mind-set can position you to open new doors, find better opportunities, and stay on track when things become challenging.
No one is always right, of course, and no one ever likes to be wrong. But being wrong is an inevitable part of our everyday experience. And perhaps the only thing more detrimental to your long-term success than occasionally making a mistake is letting your fear of doing so prevent you from speaking up and putting yourself out there. Consider the saying “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Making a mistake is not the same as failing, and the fear of being wrong only stifles creativity and limits expression. Falling short sometimes is how we grow. The lessons you learn from such experiences are what equip you for success the next time you try. You might hesitate to call yourself a perfect individual, considering your insecurities and shortcomings, but remember that you are not defined by what you lack or what mistakes you have made, but by your perseverance.
4. Lean into Your Strengths
Identify what capabilities you bring to the table and look for opportunities to lean into them. Regularly demonstrating your talents and skills will not only help you feel more positive about yourself but will also reinforce others’ appreciation of you. Being perfect across the board is not an attainable goal but making the most of your particular strengths can bolster your value—and your self-assurance—professionally.
5. Invest in Yourself
To stay strong physically, we need to regularly replenish our resources via food and sleep. To be our best in the workplace, we must likewise replenish our resources professionally. Investing in yourself in a way that supports your long-term vision for your career can build your self-confidence by enhancing your strengths and capabilities. This could mean, for example, engaging in continuous learning via online courses, taking time for self-care, volunteering for an organization, or staying true to the reading list you ambitiously made as a New Year’s resolution. Such experiences confer knowledge and familiarity and knowing you are prepared to address certain issues, situations, and people will make you more willing to speak up or participate when opportunities arise.
6. Ignore the Critics
Continuous criticism can lead you to doubt yourself or feel underconfident. But the truth is, pleasing everyone is impossible, and critics are everywhere. The key is to not let them slow you down. Keep in mind that criticism is merely someone’s opinion, not a hard fact. So, consider the person’s input, extract anything useful you find, and discard the rest. Remain true to yourself, your purpose, and your mission, regardless of the judgment of others.
Even now, in 2020, women are just beginning to be more visible in positions of power, running corporations, and influencing the world. But the tide is turning. In areas such as entertainment, technology, business, and activism, women executives are a driving force, bringing change, innovation, and creativity to their landscapes. Building your self-confidence professionally can help you join this progressive wave of female leaders and achieve your full potential.
7. Embrace Your Progress
We all have unique definitions of success. And we succeed at our own pace. Theodore Roosevelt once astutely said, “Comparison is a thief of joy.” Competitive spirit is good only if we are competing with ourselves. Comparing our progress with someone else’s is an insult to our efforts. We must set up milestones for our unique journey and take pride in our achievements along the way. Remember, never let other people’s success make you feel like you are not doing enough.
History has many examples that showcase the leadership of women. Razia Sultana led an army. Joan of Arc and Rosa Parks both stood at the forefront of a revolution. The Bronte sisters and Sylvia Plath wrote moving pieces of literature. Rani Lakshmibai carried an infant on her back while she fought for her country’s freedom. We must derive inspiration from women who lived, loved, fought and won battles, and made their mark. They wrote their own future and have inspired many other women to lead the life of their dreams.
For this reason, we must always perceive our success as a revolution, leading us to a brighter future.
Now is the time to develop your own mindset of excellence.
This article was originally published on The Quint.