There as many reasons not to feel confident at work as there are people who don't feel confident at work.
Maybe you're suffering from a bad case of impostor syndrome . Maybe you're the least experienced member of your team, or you're working under a bad boss or with nasty coworkers who constantly put you down. Maybe you have a family to feed and you live in perpetual fear of losing your job.
Whatever the reason, a lack of confidence at work can interfere with your ability to take initiative, practice effective decision-making, advocate for your own projects and worth, and lead teams successfully.
Luckily, there are several proven strategies that can help you unlearn a lack of confidence and become more self-assured on the job. Here are four of them.
Affirm your strengths and successes
If you're like most people, you spend way more time noticing your shortcomings and the times you mess up than you do affirming your strengths and successes. By flipping this script, you can start to rewrite the messaging in your brain from a focus on criticism to an emphasis on positive validation.
To do this, take the time to write down all of the skills you currently possess. Include both "hard" skills ("I can code apps from scratch") and "soft" skills ("I effectively resolve conflicts with my team members and maintain positive relationships with my clients"). Whenever you cultivate a new skill, add it to the list. When projects go well at work or you accomplish tasks small and large, make a point of acknowledging your successes. When you receive positive feedback from clients or coworkers, write it down. Review these lists regularly.
By taking the time to affirm your strengths, you'll build a repository of data with which to counteract the negative voices in your head. And you'll give yourself a sustained sense of confidence in the process.
Regularly learn new skills
Challenging yourself to learn something new on a regular basis requires that you push yourself beyond your comfort zone. It doesn't matter if you commit to lead a new work project, sign up for a course at the local community college, attend a professional conference, or volunteer for a nonprofit. By doing and learning new things, you'll start to recognize that you're capable of more than you might have ever expected. And that will give you a major confidence boost.
Cultivate a support system
It's important to feel confident in your own skin and decisions regardless of others' opinions. But that doesn't mean a little cheerleading doesn't help. If possible, aim to cultivate close relationships with a few coworkers whom you can trust to have your back and provide encouragement in the workplace. As you get to know these people, they should be able to provide you with additional insights into your strengths and successes.
It's also valuable to develop a support system outside of work, be it comprised of friends, family members, or both. If you're feeling confident in yourself outside of work, odds are good you'll be able to bring those feelings with you into the workplace.
Commit to a healthy lifestyle
At first glance, this tip might seem unrelated to the office. But it's actually a surprisingly important component of growing more confident at work. That's because healthy lifestyle habits such as eating well, getting high-quality sleep, and exercising on a regular basis make you feel good--and when you feel good, you're more likely to feel confident.
In fact, one study found that high levels of physical activity were associated with feelings of greater self-confidence, particularly as it relates to tackling a daily to-do list. Setting and achieving athletic goals also affirms your ability to learn new skills and achieve the benchmarks you set for yourself, further giving your confidence a boost . Meanwhile, additional research has found that eating well can boost your work performance and getting plenty of sleep is linked to greater self-esteem .
When all else fails? Fake it 'til you make it. If you're lacking in the self-confidence department, ask yourself how a confident person might act in whatever situation you're in. Then do that, even if it's uncomfortable. The more you practice this, the more you'll embody confidence--until one day you find that you're no longer faking it.