Five Steps to Build your Confidence and Improve your Personal and Professional Life

After he was fired from Apple in 1985 – following a failed attempt to gain control over the company – Steve Jobs was devastated. After all, he had co-founded the business seven years earlier and had nurtured it from the ground up.

With the advantage of hindsight, Jobs pointed out: “I didn’t see it then, but being fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.”

Alongside several of his former colleagues, Jobs went on to launch the computer company, NeXT and eventually Pixar Animation Studios. The rest, as they say, is history.

His story is not unique. Professional setbacks are tough, whether they arise from redundancy, an unsuccessful job search, or restructuring. There is a tendency to take setbacks personally to the point where they affect your self-esteem, perception of value, and confidence – leading to feelings of unhappiness, stress, lack of motivation and energy, and personal and professional relationship challenges.

Yet, having confidence in ourselves is a key predictor of success. Said another way, if you do not believe in yourself and your capabilities, nobody else will. Confidence helps you to build the kind of resilience that will get you through life’s ups and downs. It also helps you to perform at peak levels – enabling focus, a greater commitment to tasks, and the flexibility to creatively navigate challenges.

That being said, we are not born with confidence and our level of confidence doesn’t remain constant throughout our lives. Self-confidence waxes and wanes, and takes work to build, develop, and maintain. The good news is that, by taking decisive actions, you can develop greater self-confidence that will enable you to navigate life’s ups and downs with ease and remain focused on your long-term goals.

Here are five tried-and-tested steps:

  1. Think back to some of your most impressive accomplishments. What helped you to achieve these? What strengths did you draw on? Once you’ve identified your strengths, think about two new ways that you can leverage them in the coming weeks. Write these down, commit to them, and then track your milestones along the way.
  2. Try something new and challenge yourself, whether joining a cooking class, a running group, or volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about. Taking on new challenges and succeeding can help boost your confidence and sense of productivity.
  3. Avoid negative self-talk and a worst-case scenario mindset. Henry Ford once said “whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” When we expect the worst, we are often too afraid to take advantage of new opportunities. Turning this on its head, imagine the best-case scenario. To help you with this, I encourage you to watch my favorite TED Talk, “Why we all need to practice emotional first aid” by Guy Winch.
  4. Ask for feedback. It’s an important life skill to learn how to seek feedback and use constructive criticism to improve. Have a discussion with your (former) line manager or colleagues to find out what you do well and where you can improve. This will help you to develop on both a personal and professional level, and become more confident in your abilities. Quite simply, confident people are better at receiving both positive and negative feedback.
  5. Set small goals and achieve them to pile up success. Achieving goals, even small ones, helps us to gain confidence in ourselves and our abilities. Make sure you set daily goals, track them, and celebrate your successes. Don’t underestimate the importance of doing this to boost your confidence levels.

Though it’s often overshadowed by your skills and expertise, confidence is one of the core building blocks of career and life success. By following these five simple steps, you can develop your confidence, bounce back from setbacks, and achieve your goals.


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