5 Tips for Building Your Self-Confidence


Following on from my article last month on how to overcome rejection, it made sense for this month’s to focus on building self-confidence. We face some form of rejection almost every day, which can impact how confident you feel. How can you build yourself up again, or maintain the self-confidence you may already have? Here are five tips on how to do just that.

1. Create a positive mindset

It’s a harsh fact to swallow but you alone are responsible for how good you feel about yourself. It’s not what happens to you, or what people say or do to you that makes you doubt yourself; it’s how you interpret the situation that causes a dent in your confidence. This is great news because it means you have complete control over your levels of self-confidence. If you’re lacking in self-confidence, you can do something about it, which is really empowering to know. It also means that it’s incredibly important to maintain a positive mindset. I love this video, which highlights this point beautifully: Which Wolf are you Feeding?

Tip: Start to log each negative thought you have that causes you to doubt yourself. For each statement, write down your answers to the following questions: What evidence completely contradicts what I’m thinking? What is fact here and what is solely their/my opinion? Does this thought help me or hinder me? What would be a more helpful, alternative, and optimistic perspective to take instead?

2. Look after your physical self

Being active works wonders when it comes to building self-confidence. Look at top athletes – Usain Bolt, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Jessica Ennis-Hill – not exactly wallflowers, are they? Exercise helps you feel more in control, and gives you a real sense of achievement, progress, and satisfaction, which are all key for building self-confidence.

Tip: Try a form of exercise you’re new to – maybe a new fitness class, going for a run somewhere new, or trying a new machine at the gym. Venturing out of your comfort zone, on top of the benefits of exercising, will never fail to boost how you see yourself. Track your progress too (weight, BMI, distance, speed etc) so you can see how far you’ve come.

3. Reflect daily on your accomplishments

A lot of my coaching clients voice their frustrations at the lack of encouragement and positive feedback they gain from their manager. This absence of positive reinforcement can take its toll on self-confidence. However, you can take this matter in to your own hands, meaning you’re not reliant on external validation to boost your confidence.

Tip: For each of these life areas, write down 5-10 things that you are proud of achieving and/or succeeding in: education, qualifications, career, family, friends, hobbies/sports, finances, and relationships. Keep this document to hand, add to it once a year, and re-read it on regular occasions. In addition, each day write down (or at least reflect on) three things that went well that day. Over time, these exercises will encourage you to become your own champion, rather than relying on others to build your self-confidence.

4. Accept that you cannot be perfect (and no one else is either)

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the past few years, it’s that trying to perform with 100% perfection in everything you do is exhausting, unsustainable, and completely confidence-destroying. This is because there is good and not-so-good in everything we do. What you perceive to be perfect is not going to be the same as someone else, as we all have different opinions and standards. The only standards you are required to meet are your own. If you did your best in the time you had, bearing in mind all the other priorities and commitments you have in life, then that’s all that really matters.

Tip: If your own standards are ridiculously high, and you’re suffering as a result, ask yourself: What would suffice or be completely reasonable for this particular situation? Accept that everything you do will be a mixture of good and not-so-good, and that is totally acceptable. Remember that you are only human and we all make mistakes. Rather than dwell on the mistake, decipher what you can learn from it and what you could do differently next time.

5. Set and stick to your value-driven goals

If you’re lacking direction and focus, your self-confidence is bound to take a hit. Niggling questions such as “What am I doing this for? Where am I going in life/this job?” only lead to self-doubt and self-questioning of who we are and what we stand for. As a result, it’s paramount that you set yourself goals for your career, and life more generally. The more goals you achieve, the better you’ll feel about yourself. However, it’s important that these goals are your goals, and not anyone else’s. We often set ourselves goals that we think we should be achieving but that actually mean very little to us. As a result, when we achieve them, we feel nothing.

Tip: Invest time in figuring out what goals are important to you. If you hear yourself using the words should, ought to, or must, you’ll probably find these are not your goals but those influenced by society, family, your friends, colleagues, or the media. Imagine you’re on your death-bed (morbid I know, but a powerful exercise), reflecting on how you’ve spent your career and personal life – What do you want to be remembered for? How have you spent your time? What have you achieved? What are you proud of? Use this vision to set yourself short-term goals to aim towards over the next 12 months, making sure these bring you closer to your longer term priorities.

This article first appeared on the Fenchurch Associates website, for which it was written. As well as being an independent coach, Alice is also the Fenchurch Associates’ Career Coach, offering ad-hoc coaching to their candidates and organisational clients. You can read more about the partnership on the Fenchurch Associates website here.

Alice Stapleton

About Alice

Alice coaches those who want to change career but don’t know what they want to do instead. She offers Career Coaching designed to help graduates, early to mid-level career-changers, and parents returning to work gain a clear vision of what career is right for them, and how to achieve it. She is also an accredited Coach Supervisor, and host of The Career Change Diaries podcast.