Few women go through life thinking that they know everything or believing that everything will go perfectly. Successful women know that won't happen but they also know they have to keep going and build their confidence back up after things go wrong. Launching a new business or applying for that next promotion can be terrifying. You will be out of your comfort zone a great deal and will often achieve less than you think you should, particularly if you are trying to juggle everything in your personal life as well.
1. Celebrate The Little Goals: Goals are critical if you want to develop yourself, your business or career and you can use your existing goals to give yourself a little boost every now and then. Split them up into manageable steps and allow yourself small rewards when you complete each stage. Rewarding yourself each time you reach a milestone rather than waiting until you have completely finished will help you stay motivated to keep going. You are allowed a major celebration when you hit the main goal, of course!
2. Use Tomatoes Wisely: Pomodoro, the Italian for tomato, here refers to plastic clockwork kitchen timers that are often shaped like tomatoes. It's a focusing technique developed by Francesco Cirillo and named after his tomato-like timer. Set it for 25 minutes and work solidly for that time, then take a 5-minute break and do something not work related - make a drink, dance around, do star jumps, pet the cat/dog or meditate. Then start again. It keeps you fresh and builds confidence because you don’t get bogged down. You can also assess your progress every 25 minutes to see what you have achieved.
3. Set A Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG): This might seem at odds with number 1 above, but an overall outrageous goal is worth having. Think about where you could possibly be in 10 or 15 years if your business was a success or you were doing really well in your career. Where will you be living, what would your life and work be like? Write it down, find images that represent it and print them out. When you feel uncertain, look at it to remind yourself why you're doing this. It will help you to regroup.
4. Take Comfort From Groups Of Like-Minded People: There are some excellent groups for women on Facebook and LinkedIn where you can get support when things look shaky. Face-to-face networking groups work too, just hearing other women talk about their ups and downs can boost your confidence because you know you are not alone. But if you are working and commitments prevent you from getting out for a breakfast meeting, online groups are perfect.
5. Meditate: Meditation might seem a bit strange if you are not used to it, but studies show it can help enormously with building confidence. It's not an easy skill to acquire without help, however, there are many videos, CDs/downloads, books and apps you can access online. Meditation is getting more attention these days along with the recent increase in "mindfulness" apps but don't dismiss it. It can be very helpful in regaining self-confidence, especially if you have had a specific knock-back, like a bad review or a difficult customer experience.
6. Exercise: A healthy body really does mean a healthy mind. Studies have shown that the two go together so if you are doubting yourself, get out and get the adrenalin flowing. If you don't have a gym on tap, or can't spare the time, at least go for a brisk walk or run up and down your stairs, until you are slightly out of breath.
7. Don't Beat Yourself Up: Often, people want everything to go right all the time and will accept nothing less. But life isn't perfect and you can't control everything and everyone, so things will go astray sometimes. If that does happen try not to give yourself a hard time. Assess what went wrong and if it was your fault, accept it and decide what you'll do differently next time. If it wasn't, and it wasn't in your control, then that's okay.
8. Confront Perfectionism: This is related to number 7 above but specifically about the things under your control. Don't expect everything you do to be perfect, because you are setting yourself up to fail, because it's impossible. Instead of working at a task relentlessly, striving for 100% perfection, ask yourself if it's good enough; is it fit for purpose? If it is, stop and move on to the next task. You will progress faster and gain more confidence in judging your own work.
9. Visualise: Strongly linked to the BHAG (number 3) and meditation, with visualisation you think back to a time when you were confident and picture this version of you as realistically as possible. If you do this regularly it gets embedded in the brain and becomes a belief rather than a dream. It is very well documented that many successful Olympic athletes use visualisation techniques as a major part of their training off the track. They visualise every part of their event from walking out from the changing room right through to thinking what it would feel like to stand on the podium with their gold medal in their hands (even listening to their national anthem to really get in the mood) Many studies show that athletes who mentally rehearse their sport, experience a positive impact on their performance. The mind is a truly powerful tool. Visualisation works for anything so why not give it a try?
10. Wear The Mantle Of Confidence: Finally, and this might sound a bit odd, but have you ever asked a confident person how they do it? You could be in for a surprise, they will probably be astonished that you think they are confident. Acting confidently eventually leads to being confident so examine those people, look at their body language, the way they speak and, crucially, the way they listen to others. If you can act confidently while repressing the inner turmoil then people will see you as being confident, and in time you will be. It might sound crazy but it does work - good luck!
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