As The Back to Work Coach, Rebekah Fraser is passionate about supporting mums re-build their career after having children. Rebekah has written a guest blog for PORSE on building self-confidence.
Self-confidence can come and go. There are certain things we can do to build and nurture it when we find it lacking. Consider Mary’s situation…
Mary has been approached to take on a bigger, more challenging role and while she is flattered and excited about the idea she also feels sick to her stomach about it.
The new role means more hours and challenging work. She would have to draw on the skill set she was honing pre-motherhood and make work more of a priority. It would herald a return to the career she was developing before she became a mum, one that she loved and allowed her to realise her full professional potential. But Mary is terrified! She doesn’t think she can do it and she’s on the verge of saying “thanks but no thanks”!
If you asked Mary’s best friend about her, she’d tell you that Mary’s an incredible woman. She’d say that Mary is smart, kind and accommodating. That she’s flexible and adaptable and a good communicator. She’d tell you that in her past role, Mary was often commended for her great work and was regularly shoulder-tapped by the competition. She’d tell you that Mary’s got the goods but that Mary is her own worst enemy.
The Back To Work Coach Rebekah Fraser has some ideas on how to help Mary:
I know Mary really well, she’s a former version of me and there are varying degrees of Mary in many of the women I know and work with.
Mary’s biggest challenge is how she thinks and how she feels about herself, she could do with a boost in her self-belief and confidence. Mary is feeling overwhelmed when she thinks about this challenge but we don’t know what is making her feel this way.
Is Mary worried about being able to do what she did before? About changes in the industry since she left? About handling the logistics of working and parenthood? About the impact of working longer hours on her family? Is it a combination of some or all of these things?
Identify the exact cause of your concern
Asking lots of questions will help Mary identify the exact cause of her concerns. Once she has identified what is making her feel uncertain and worried, it is easier for her to create a plan to address them. When you’ve got a plan you become proactive and being proactive helps boost feelings of self-worth and confidence.
Mary realises she is worried about delivering a quality outcome in an industry which has seen a lot change, and she is worried about having enough energy to perform well at work and to parent in the way she wants to. She hasn’t taken any steps to address these issues yet but knowing exactly what she is worried about makes her feel more in control and confident.
Give yourself a reality check
Mary now needs to reality check her feelings and work out if she actually has something to worry about or if her fears are influencing her perspective. After more discussion, Mary realises she doesn’t know the details of the changes in the industry and what it might mean for the new role. She organises a catch up with an old colleague to chat about the changes and reads the latest industry publications. Now she is forming a plan, she feels more confident.
Mary still worries she won't have enough energy to balance work and family life. She assumed responsibility for the bulk of childcare and household management during maternity leave and doesn’t think her partner will manage household and family tasks the ‘right way’. I challenge Mary on these beliefs about what constitutes the ‘right way’ and she concedes there are other ways of doing things. Mary is starting to see that she doesn't have to assume responsibility for everything at home and that sharing the load would allow her more head space and energy to meet the demands of her new role. This realisation further improves her belief in her capacity and ability to do the job.
What does success look like?
After discussing what she achieved in the past, Mary identifies that success would include operating with integrity, being considered innovative and collegial, delivering on her performance objectives and being available to her children from 5pm every evening. Mary has narrowed the scope of her attention and can focus her efforts on the things which matter most to her. This makes the new challenge feel more achievable and imaginable. With the knowledge of what she’s achieved in the past and an ability to imagine how she’d operate in this role in the future, Mary feels even more confident….and excited!!
Building self-confidence often starts with examining the things that you're worried about and then taking one small proactive step forward. That step may be one of the strategies mentioned above or it might be something else specific to you and your situation.
Taking action and doing something for yourself is the best way to develop self-confidence. Go on and get started!