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“I’ve lost my confidence” An SOS guide for working mamas and those returning to work.

It’s the phrase I hear most often from mums who are contemplating a return to the workforce after a break to raise children. It’s also a phrase I hear from mums who haven’t taken a big break and seem to be totally nailing it in their career.

It seems that a loss of confidence is something all of us can suffer from when it comes to our career.

Perhaps you’re worried that things have moved on rapidly in your industry? Or maybe you want to try out a new career but don’t know what to do and fear you won’t have the right skills and experience? Perhaps you want a flexible working arrangement and don’t have the confidence to ask for this?

It’s totally normal to lack confidence and be fearful of change. But this becomes damaging when it stops us from taking action and moving forward in the things we want to do. And while some people do appear to be more naturally confident, you can certainly grow in this area. But you won’t become more confident by thinking about it. Confidence comes from doing.

Here are some things you can do to boost your career confidence. You can also download my 7 Step Career Confidence Planner which summarises the steps spelled out in this article and helps you stay on top of them.

Work on your inner-critic
We all know her, she shows up in your head, whenever you’re thinking about doing something new or entering a challenging situation. She says things like: “you’ll be no good at that” or ”you don’t have the right experience

Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes she can be helpful. She might bring a skills gap to your attention that you can address by taking an online course. But most of the time her delivery is completely off and she shows up at unhelfpul times.

From now on, I want you to notice when your inner-critic makes an appearance, take note of what she is saying and challenge her. If she tells you that there’s no point applying for that job because you don’t have the right experience, then reality check this with a trusted friend. If your inner-critic tells you you’re useless at job interviews then remind yourself of that time you aced an interview.

After a while you’ll be able to predict when she is going to show up and the more you challenge her, the more she’ll change her tune. You may even be able to turn your inner critic into your inner friend. Or you can just politely tell her to buzz off.

Know what you want
It’s hard to have confidence in yourself when you have doubts about what you want. You can end up having a lack of trust in yourself and your indecision will likely become apparent to others. Take the time to get in touch with yourself, your skills, interests and preferred work situations. Create a vision for the future and work out the steps you need to take action towards it.

Take small, consistent steps
Once you know what you want, it will be easier to take some action steps. Even very small ones towards your end goal. You will gain confidence from the actions you take and a sense of achievement. Commit to doing one small thing every day to build your confidence, whether it’s an email to a past colleague, signing up for a course or arranging childcare for your return to work.

Practice talking about yourself
Update your elevator pitch with your new-found wisdom about what you have to offer and what you want. And get comfortable talking about yourself in any situation. Strike up a conversation with the mum next to you at the park. Tell them a bit about yourself. This will get easier every time you do it.

Polish up your skills in a low-risk environment
Many of us lack confidence because our skills are rusty but if we practice them in a low stakes environment then we can begin to feel more confident. Think about the work activities that worry you the most and seek out opportunities to use them. For example, running a stall at a school fundraiser, joining Toastmasters or signing up for a course. Your local library can be a wonderful resource for directing you to causes in your community to lend you time to or low-cost courses that you can take to boost your skills.

Do something
Perhaps one day a week working in a local shop or doing some odd jobs for another family. This can help you to ease your way back into the workforce in a non-pressured way. You get to polish up your communication skills and earn some money plus you never know where it may lead to. A customer in the shop may have just the opportunity you’re looking for.

Build a support group and seek out role models
Tell your friends and family that you are returning to work and share your fears with them. They may be able to give you some tips or job leads or simply remind you of how wonderful you are. We all need this at times. Maybe you could reach out to someone you know that has managed this situation well and ask for their advice or perhaps engage the services of a career coach to help you on your journey.

Look after yourself
It’s hard to have good self-esteem if we don’t care for ourselves. I know that when I’ve overindulged in alcohol and bad food and slacked on exercise that I can feel very low in confidence. Remember to prioritise the things you need to feel good. I know it’s hard because we’re busy mums but think about the small things that you can fit into your day. Maybe you can walk the kids to school instead of driving or perhaps you could switch off the TV and get to bed half an hour earlier.

I hope this article has given you some ideas to help you move forward. A lot of us think of confidence as something we either have or we don’t but, like a lot of things, it can be built with consistent practice.

Article Author: Denny Nesbitt

To help you stay on track with your confidence boosting activities you can download my 7 Step Career Confidence Planner. This summarises the steps in this article and includes some handy calendar sheets for planning out a whole month to a more confident you.

And if you’re still feeling stuck then I offer a 30 minute no-obligation working mum SOS to discuss confidence and any other issues getting in the way of a career and life that feels more like you. Click here now to find out more or contact me now to book in your call.