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3 Steps to building your confidence

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Why is confidence important?

Women returners perform well in their jobs, say employers. But they lack confidence. And this stops them from doing as well as they could in the workplace.

But confident people arenít born. Theyíre made. Confidence is a skill and skills can be learned. Hereís how:

Step 1: Understand confidence
Step 2: Recognise the confidence breakers
Step 3: Embrace the confidence boosters

Step 1: Understand confidence

Confidence means different things to different people. But it is generally agreed that confidence:
  • Allows you to speak up for yourself
  • Makes you more willing to accept challenges
  • Helps you to cope with stress
  • Assists you in asking for help
  • Makes it easier for you to withstand criticism
  • Allows you to be flexible
  • Increases belief in your own abilities
  • Helps you set high expectations for yourself
  • Makes anything seem possible

Activity: What is confidence to you?

Write down in your own words what confidence means to you. Think about somebody you admire for his or her confidence. What do they do and say that makes them appear confident?

Step 2: Recognise the confidence breakers

The thing to remember about confidence? Itís a quality that comes and goes. The trick to managing it? Do less of the things that take away confidence and do more of the things that give confidence a boost.

The confidence breakers

  • You believe you have little to offer
    Itís a common belief among women returners but if youíve organised trades people to come to your house, dealt with mail order suppliers on the phone, renewed your own insurance policies, whatís stopping you using the same skills in a paid job?

  • You wish you were more like others
    So you concentrate on everyone elseís strong points and your weak ones. Admire othersí good qualities but donít ignore your own. Yours may be different but just as valuable
  • You worry what others think
    Not everyone will approve of your decision to go back to work especially if you have young children. But this is a decision for you and your family. You are the best judge of what works and what doesnít.
  • You use negative words about yourself
    And catch yourself starting most sentences with, ĎI canítÖ.í. Be positive about your abilities. Change ĎI canítí to, ĎI caní, or, ĎI can with the necessary support and trainingí.

  • You try to do it all
    Returning to work brings a new lifestyle. That means domestic arrangements and standards may have to change. If you do everything, you wonít do anything properly.

Step 3: Embrace the confidence boosters

Your confidence will grow like topsy if you:
  • Like yourself
    Try to see yourself as your nearest and dearest see you. Become your own Ďbest friendí. When self-criticism starts to swim around your head, give yourself a gentle but firm talking to and get yourself back on track
  • Surround yourself with friends
    Youíre about to undergo another big life change. Surround yourself with people who support your efforts
  • Say no every now and then
    Donít agree to every request made of you. Itís not being mean. Itís being a responsible time manager. Make it clear itís the request youíre refusing. Youíre not rejecting the person making it.
  • Believe you can change things
    Donít spend time fretting about things you canít change Ė whether itís your age or the season. When you believe you can make changes, then changes start to happen. The trick is to make changes in small, manageable steps
  • Look good and sound great
    The best way to feel confident? Look good and sound confident. It doesnít matter youíre faking it. Youíll feel better about yourself Ė and others will see you in a more positive light too.

Activity: Boost your confidence

  • Take a sheet of paper and write down at least 10 things youíre good at. They donít have to be work-related. Maybe youíre good at e.g. calming down the children; servicing the car; gardening; dancing; writing letters; managing money; entertaining lonely aunts; arriving on time; dressing well

  • Now think about what you can do to boost your confidence. Write down at least THREE practical steps you can take to make you feel better about yourself.