Finding my confidence. What my value is. How I make a difference. Who am I? All big questions and frequently asked by people the world over, but particularly for women and even more frequently for mothers. When I opened up my DMs on Instagram a couple of weeks ago one of the first questions (and then most common ones) was about finding your confidence, drive and value again after returning to work. There are long answers to this question, many of which feature heavily when I’m coaching someone or through my workshops, but there are also ways you can unpick some of these for yourself.
I thought I’d share a few of my tips to help you along the way, so here goes…
Confidence– (re)-finding your confidence is no small task, but it’s not impossible. Beyond the childcare routines, the domestic imbalance and crushing feeling of wondering what your own name is apart from ‘mummy’ (or more accurately Mummy Mummy Mummyyyyyyyyy), there sits a version of you that is waiting to re-enter. You’ll be changed, even just a little bit, but change doesn’t mean less or not as good – it’s just different.
- Begin by figuring out what has pushed your confidence away. There are an infinite number of answers to that question and the most important thing is to identify your route cause. When you’ve figured it out you can face into it – was it triggered by someone else, was there a particular event that left you feeling wobbly, is it the amount of time you’ve had away from the workplace? Like I say, the list is endless and I don’t want to put words in your mouth. If you struggle to figure it out by yourself, try asking those close to you – they might have spotted when things changed more accurately than you have.
- Visioning and reminders play a big part in building back up that confidence, alongside working closely with your values and strengths (energisers). Vividly describing times when you’ve felt great, empowered, strong or courageous perhaps, can give your memory that gentle but direct awakening of what’s locked up. Remembering them with as much detail as possible and paying close attention to the characteristics of those situations – what was that brought the feeling of confidence, who was there, how were you feeling prior to it, what did you do to prepare etc. Feedback from other people can be a big help here too – try asking work colleagues, friends and family when they’ve seen you riding high and looking confident.
- Celebrate. Putting yourself in situations outside of your comfort zone is a courageous thing to do and needs to be celebrated. Taking risks, giving it a go, even if it doesn’t go ‘perfectly’ (eurgh, hate that word!) are all reasons to pat yourself on the back for dipping your toe into some different water. Over time you’ll continue to build up your confidence through pushing your boundaries…and small steps are brilliant.
Values– ultimately though your values aren’t determined from a list presented to you, they’re part of you and although can manifest differently throughout life they don’t waver too much. If you’re needing some inspiration though, there are reams of free values lists online. In the meantime, here are some steps that can help you articulate your values:
- Figure out the times when you’ve been at your happiest.What were you doing? Who was there? What was making you so happy?
- When have you been most proud? Why were you proud? Were other people involved? What was making you feel proud?
- When have you felt most fulfilled and satisfied? What was giving you meaning? What was your need being fulfilled?
- Now you can bring together the themes you’ve identified when you’ve been at your happiest, felt pride, and fulfilment.
- Once you’ve got your picture built up, confirm them. When you look at your list, do they make you feel good? Do you want to share them with others? Will they help you support your decisions?
Drive– I read a quote recently that hit a spot with me, ‘You don’t overcome challenges by making them smaller but by making yourself bigger’ (John C Maxwell). I’m normally in the school of thought that we can make challenges seem bigger than they are, but maybe it’s that we’re shrinking ourselves? With that in mind, here are my big tips and getting that motivation back.
- Connect your values.Once you’ve figured out what your values are, actively living and working by them is the big unlock. If one of your values is efficiency but you’re currently feeling like you’re surrounded by inefficiency, what can you personally do to change it? If you’re at your happiest when you’re working in a team but right now you spend most of your time solo, how can you rectify that?
- Find your why. What’s important to you? Your definition of success, earning money, a particular lifestyle, making a difference, impacting others positively…another endless list with a very personal answer, but that answer needs to be held really tightly and maybe very visibly. Is there a picture or a word, a vision board or something like it that you can keep near you as a reminder?
If you’ve had any successes with any of the topics I’ve covered, I’d love to hear it! Your story could be someone else’s inspiration. Let me know by emailing email@example.com