The current pandemic has led many people to wonder about changing careers; an not surprisingly so. Here are a few simple principles to consider when deciding on career reinvention, that can guide aspiring career-changers through the process during these hard times.
Have you been lead to believe that a career path is linear and prescribed and should be followed like a set formula; and if you don’t, the likelihood of success is marginal or is at best the luck-of-the-draw.
A non-traditional career path is not always the most comfortable approach, but it is one that can make job candidates more appealing to a smart recruiter or hiring manager. In my experience, intentionally making myself uncomfortable has helped me develop a more holistic skill set. For some, a non-traditional career path can be too challenging to handle. However, I have learned that you do not need to stifle internal anxiety about making big career changes. It is natural, and an opportunity to learn and grow personally and professionally. The key is to use that discomfort productively and ultimately master the situations that seem overwhelming at first.
There are (at least) five lessons I have learned throughout my career in which taking the “easy” route would have been perfectly acceptable, but by taking the road less travelled I gained much bigger rewards.
DON’T OBSESS OVER BIG BRANDS OR LOGOS
Early on, I threw away the notion that big employer brands matter. Choosing to focus on a lesser-known company where the learning opportunities are exponentially higher will almost always bring your the rewards you are looking for. Don’t get me wrong; I believe that working at a big company with a reputable brand can be very good for professionals especially at the beginning of your career.
Big brands have the resources to train people well. If however, you desire a career with velocity and autonomy, a big company is not where you want to spend the entirety of your career. Many people who have grand career aspirations become dependent on navigating internal politics based on their employer’s logo and become less focused on the actual work. Large companies tend to be complex, bureaucratic organizations. While they might be highly competitive and impress your friends and family, you may be unable to progress your career quickly.
For me, moving on from a well-known brand allowed me to manage a large team at a young age; something that would have taken me years to achieve had I been concerned with working my way up the corporate ladder. This is the type of intangible experience that gives a career velocity.
if you are passionate about marketing but realized you want a broader scope as an example; working for a large company can train you well for the workforce. If you know you want more, it is going to show. So make the choice and move to a smaller company that is perhaps less well-known, but where you can challenge yourself with roles and responsibilities that would have taken years to achieve elsewhere.
TACKLE DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS HEAD-ON
As a woman, it’s vital to force yourself to have uncomfortable conversations with your managers about other priorities in your life, specifically if you have children and family obligations. You must set expectations both at work and at home to achieve enough balance to thrive in each environment. As a younger woman, finding your voice and setting those boundaries with your supervisors and senior managers can be challenging and intimidating. I have witnessed many young women burn out because they pretended that they did not have obligations outside of the office and instead poured the majority of their energy into their work. But that is not reality.
More recently, COVID-19 and the work-from-home culture has made having a family very apparent. You can’t hide the fact that kids are home because they are bursting into your home office, interrupting Zoom calls, and have home-school schedules that require your attention. It has brought about a reckoning. Previously, uncomfortable expectation-setting conversations about family responsibilities were mostly relegated to women, but that is starting to shift. The pandemic has democratized this aspect of work-life balance by making it more ubiquitous and gender-neutral.
FIND AND LEARN FROM ALL TYPES OF LEADERS
The truth is that no one, not even an executive, is good at everything. Some are amazing people managers and fantastic at leading a team. Others are the wicked-smart types, geniuses but genuinely terrible at managing people.
I’ve been lucky. I’ve had the chance to work for, and learn from, the full spectrum of leaders. I spent several years working for a mentor who was a great leader of people and manager of teams. Later I went to work at an organization where my manager wasn’t a particularly great people-leader. Still, they were smart and creative and I gained a lot of important functional experience.
It is important to remember that there is no such thing as a perfect leader, and often we don’t get to choose who we work for. It often comes down to taking the initiative to recognize and learn from the strengths of whoever your leaders are at a given moment and translating both their strengths and weaknesses into skills that you can use in the future.
GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY
Looking back, I have always taken on tasks and responsibilities that were “below my pay grade” as a way to build trust with my team. I will get into the weeds and write email copy, or go to meetings where I’m not expected. Even now, I often do things that others would consider to be their direct responsibility.
Doing the unexpected builds trust, affinity, and goodwill with your teams. It also builds credibility because you show your team members that you are a good practitioner, not just a figurehead devising strategy. It also throws ego out the door. When your team knows that if they need help with something, all they have to do is ask you and we will tackle it together. I believe this approach creates a healthy culture and establishes your role as a leader. Nobody wants to work for someone who delegates responsibility and is incapable of understanding what the real work looks like and what it takes for teams to be productive.
DO NOT LET ANXIETIES OWN YOU
Some people are very risk-averse and they do not like a lot of change inmost aspects of their lives. If your career is the antithesis of your personality and you have found that when managing the anxiety that accompanies uncomfortable situations and challenging decisions you endure throughout your career, you have to move through it and not let it own you.
For some people, the anxiety that accompanies navigating a career can be an unpleasant nagging, but it can be downright debilitating for others. By acknowledging its presence and moving through the discomfort, you learn how to manage it rather than let it manage you. Some people may view it as a weakness. I am proof that you can allow discomfort to exist and turn it into a tool to not only survive but to thrive.
Has 20Plenty turned in to 20Empty for you?
Are you fatigued by a prolonged lockdown and feeling like “Can this be over now?!?” Have you started to relook at your career i.t.o potentially making some changes?
Clinical psychologists have suggested that this pandemic has caused an emotional tsunami for many. “Peoples’ feelings are exacerbated to the extremes at the moment, especially because of the uncertainty of what’s going to happen,” Suntosh Pillay. The toll this pandemic has taken on peoples’ mental health is leaving many in a perpetual state of stress.
While, for some, lockdown has afforded the opportunity to spend much needed time with family, which would not ordinarily have happened; for others lockdown has been a source of anxiety, hopelessness and disconnectedness. Financial stress, anxiety and panic has been cited by South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) as 3 of the major challenges South Africans are facing.
In addition to this, many people are being forced to re-evaluate their careers with many looking for ‘re-skilling’ opportunities to ensure they can adapt to the post lockdown world of work. Many people have found themselves retrenched or forced into unpaid leave and still others fear they could find themselves in the same situation and not have a position to go back to in the new year.
Has this pandemic caused you to consider pivoting or changing careers completely as you begin to prepare for life after lockdown?
Global research indicates that many people are attempting to upskill in the hope they will be able to be re-employed or be in a position to transition into a different sector.
Regrettable only 36% of polled employers has offered their employees support in improving their existing skillsets during this time. We know that without continuous improvements to skill-sets, existing members of staff are likely to become bored and demotivated because they are not being challenged or given the opportunity to grow. This is more important now than ever before. If staff are unfulfilled and unmotivated they will start to think about pursuing a career elsewhere when things settle down.
This in-turn is likely to mean businesses will need to invest huge sums of money in recruitment – with no guarantee they will be able to find anyone with the right attributes. So investing in continuous skills development with existing employees is the best way forward – and it’s also less costly.
For many this pandemic has been the wake-up call they were waiting for.The study found more than a third of those polled have reconsidered their chosen career since lockdown began.
In fact, one in 10 people are currently attempting to retrain for an entirely different job. However, 54 % of people surveyed fear they are too established in their current career to do something new; despite many feeling that they may not have a job to return to.
Business owners, have indicated that six out of 10 job applicants lack the skills employers are looking for and filling vacancies with workers who have the desired skillsets is one of their biggest challenges – even harder than retaining valued members of staff.
Recruitment is costly on a financial level, and there is a danger it could affect a business’ ability to grow because they can not find the right people for the job.
This is why continuous skills development is so important – it reduces the need for investing in recruitment because fewer members of staff want to leave as they are likely to be more fulfilled and stimulated. Furthermore, businesses can then grow with a workforce who has all the right skills for the business.
What plans do you have for continuous skills development as you prepare for life after lockdown?
So I am not saying that goals are bad things and you should avoid them. If goals work for you then go for it
For a lot of us, a goal can be the tool that sets our direction and inspires us to keep going.
But when I look back at the way my career change actually unfolded, it didn’t happen in a series of big tick-boxes.
It happened in micro-moments of consistent actions.
You could call them systems, or you could call them habits.
Here’s why they worked so well:
Habits have a ‘how’
“Habit is the intersection of knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do), and desire (want to do).” – Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Have you ever thought to yourself: “I could make a career change in no time, if only I knew what steps to take”?
It’s the classic career change conundrum – you know the high-level result you want, but you do not know what each specific little step is or looks like, nor do you know the actions you need that is going to get you there.
So you end up with these gloriously intangible goals, much like the ones I listed out in my book, and then you sit and stare at them, and feel bad that you haven’t got there yet, and beat yourself up for not knowing how.
But you can get your hands on a Habit.
Because if it’s a habit, you know what it is and how to do it.
So we tend to get into the Habit of doing things, rather than just setting a goal.
If there’s only so much you can do, you can at least do a lot of that.
We have already established that you are not the boss of everything.
You can not control results, but you can control your actions.
So shifting your attention away from the lofty, the far-off and the at-least-50%-out-of-your-hands and toward the tangible, the manageable, the consistent and the completely-under-your-control is probably a smart move.
7 Habits of Highly Effective People author Steven Covey has a great way of explaining this.
Picture a circle.
Inside it, cram everything you care about: your declining eyesight, the refugee crisis, climate change, the housing market, whether your kid is having a good day at school, what the recruitment agent is going to say in your meeting tomorrow, how good your hair looks today, the location of your car keys, whether or not you’re happy in your future career… there’s a LOT in this circle.
Covey calls it your Circle of Concern.
Inside your Circle of Concern is another circle.
This one is called your Circle of Influence.
And inside your Circle of Influence are only the concerns you can directly impact or control.
Goals tend to live inside your Circle of Concern and outside your Circle of Influence. They rely on factors that are only partly in your control. And they are focused on outputs (what happens next) rather than inputs (what you actually do).
But your hairstyle? The house you choose to buy? The skills you develop or what you spend your Thursday evenings doing? Whether or not you try that new recipe that’s been rolling around in the back of your head for months?
In these matters, you are the boss.
When you operate within your Circle of Influence, you will make the biggest impact.
And the more time you spend working and playing inside of this circle, the larger it grows.
It’s hard to pick a fight with a mouse
Goals can tend to feel high-stakes and paralysing, habits can be as small as you need them to be. A Stanford psychologist BJ Fogg recommends starting with ‘tiny habits’, actions so small that they are almost laughable. Instead of trying to start a habit of flossing twice a day, for example, he suggests just starting by flossing one tooth.
You can find a lot of good reasons why the goal of quitting your job in 3 months’ time, regardless of what happens between now and then, might not be the best idea. You can argue your way in and out of that for hours.
It is much harder to argue with a habit of putting whatever coins you have in your pockets into a savings jar every day when you get home.
Insignificant though actions like this might sound, they are actually incredibly powerful. The hardest part of anything is just getting started, and once you have started getting into action with a habit, they have the capacity to snowball.
Maybe you want to write a novel. You decide to set up a tiny habit of writing just 300 words a day. You figure, to complete a book at that rate, it will take about 300 days. Except… it turns out that writing 300 words is really easy, and even on your busiest days, you are getting it done. In fact, on a lot of days, you find yourself overshooting the 300 word mark and just continuing to tap away, writing 800, 1,000, 2,000 words in a day.
You can’t argue with small.
Slow consistent progress is permanent Progress
Goals can set you up for a jerky journey with little traction.
You create a goal, circle it for a while, make a big leap forward, and then, once you have achieved it, you have to come up with the next one. If you don’t achieve it, you then have to deal with the emotional fallout. Mapped onto a piece of paper, your forward movement looks like a game of leapfrog with a very nervous teammate.
Habits on the other hand are by their very nature ongoing and consistent. They tell you what to do and when, and are active regardless of output. Small steps, taken consistently, move you forward faster.
“The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game. True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. It’s not about any single accomplishment. It is about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.” – James Clear, author of Atomic Habits
And good news for your achy willpower muscle: once you have formed them, habits pretty much operate automatically.
In fact, once we have got going with a habit, our brains actually adapt to make it easier to complete. After about 30 days of practice, carrying out a habit becomes easier than not doing so.
As Charles Duhigg wrote in The Power Of Habit:
“Habits are powerful, but delicate. They can emerge outside our consciousness or can be deliberately designed. They often occur without our permission but can be reshaped by fiddling with their parts. They shape our lives far more than we realise – they are so strong, in fact, that they cause our brains to cling to them at the exclusion of all else, including common sense.”
The nature of your life is dependent on the nature of your habits
Philosopher William James described habits in this way:
“All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits – practical, emotional, and intellectual – systematically organised for our weal or woe, and bearing us irresistibly toward our destiny, whatever the latter may be.”
Habits, not goals, shape your daily experience of the world.
The time of day you wake up. The way you brush your teeth. How you get to work, the turns of phrase you use, the way you automatically respond to certain events.
Goals are interruptions to your status quo.
Habits, on the other hand, build, shape and create the form and direction of your life.
And if that is true, then whether or not you shift into fulfilling work is entirely dependent on the habits and consistent behaviours you choose to cultivate.
On other words, choosing and building a powerful set of habits can help you move into fulfilling work inevitable.
Now that sounds pretty good, no?
How to build helpful habits in career change
Create opportunities to be gloriously surprised
All you can control is what you do, not what happens next.
So, as you start designing some new habits and behaviours, let go of any thought of whether or not it will ‘work’ or be ‘worth it’.
Perhaps you consider starting a new habit of going to one new, interesting event per week.
But then the doubts come in: By the way these are also know as Limiting Beliefs
“There probably won’t be anyone interesting there.”
“You don’t WANT to work at the circus – why go to a workshop?”
“You’ve had a tiring week – no point going if it’s just going to be a waste of time.”
Your job is not to make it worth it.
Your job is not to know the outcome.
Your job is just to keep opening the door to the possibility of something fantastic that you didn’t see coming.
You can’t control whether it happens or not.
But one thing is for sure: without an open door, it ain’t coming in.
Choose pleasure, not pride
Intrinsic motivation is far more effective than extrinsic rewards.
In her book Better Than Before, author Gretchen Rubin uses this example:
“If I tell [my daughter] that she can watch an hour of TV if she reads for an hour, I don’t build her habit of reading. I teach her that watching TV is more fun than reading.”
So where possible, set up habits that will feel good to do and give you a sense of accomplishment when completed.
This does not mean it won’t take any effort to get started with them. Setting up a new habit involves some change, and it will take willpower to get the ball rolling.
Perhaps you know that talking to new people often feels a bit awkward to start with.
But once you’ve opened a dialogue, you always enjoy the conversation, and you are thrilled to have made a new friend you can learn from.
It will take some effort to push past the initial hump of always reaching out to people you encounter who do interesting work. But the more you do it, the smoother that initial hump will become, and the more enjoyment (and great conversations, and new insights) will follow.
Following a pleasurable feeling and setting up a system to do more of it, is always going to reap greater rewards than fighting against an unpleasant one. Besides, if you want to find fulfilling work, doing a lot of things that feel unfulfilling is unlikely to get you there.
Follow the hints and the feelings that tell you what you love, what comes naturally, what elicits a sense of flow.
Do more of what works
Often times, habits are pitched as things to be changed, to quit, or to fix.
You are giving up your smoking habit.
You start running every morning (to fix your low fitness levels).
You stop drinking coffee in the mornings.
However, when you are trying to create a habit in order to fix or stop something, it takes more effort, and reminds you of the negative element you are trying to get away from.
Stopping something gives you the sense of having less of something in your life, but it does not necessarily replace it with anything else. You want the good stuff, and more of it.
The most effective habits start with the questions:
“What do I know works well for me?” and then: “How can I do more of it?”
So take a look at the things you have done in the past that have given you more clarity or more progress when it comes to your career change.
When have you found new insights to explore, and how did you find them?
What was different about that conversation that led to a new opportunity, from the other conversations that fizzled out?
Sure, you know that for extroverts, going to networking events works brilliantly. But you are way better in 1-1 environments. So how do you have more 1-1 interactions with people in your day-to-day?
Look for what works, and then focus on building a habit that has you do more of it.
If in doubt, change your environment
Stanford behaviour scientist BJ Fogg says he has learnt that only three things will change your life in the long term.
Option A. Have an epiphany
Option B. Change your environment (what surrounds you)
Option C. Take baby steps
Epiphanies are hard to come by, and they are out of your control.
Baby steps are the mouse-sized micro-habits you can build with very little effort over time.
And if you are not sure what baby steps to take, create the habit of taking them into new environments. If you are struggling for ideas on your future career, or struggling to find the right steps to take, remember one of the simplest principles of systems theory:
New inputs = new outputs.
If you want new ideas, new insights, new possibilities, build the habit of filling your environment with new experiences.
Widen your social circle by adding new people with new perspectives into your social circle.
Take yourself into new places and surroundings.
Giving yourself new experiences.
Build habits that change what surrounds you, and you will watch your perspective on the world, and the opportunities you can see, change along with it.
One thing at a time, and one thing only
Set yourself up for success.
Overcommitting to a whole bunch of new habits has the same impact as setting yourself a scary goal. It feels overwhelming, paralysing, and invites fear of failure and procrastination.
Get into the habit of just one small, consistent new behaviour.
Get curious about it.
A tiny drip of water, over time, can crack open a whole boulder.
Do not underestimate the power of one thing done consistently over time.
“The best thing I ever did was to commit to one small action each day (less than five minutes). Sometimes this lead to further leaps, other times that was all I did. This might have been making a list, sending an email, commenting on a post, a bit of research, etc. When I combined that with trying to make the small action something that was slightly out of my comfort zone as well, good things started to happen.” – Amy G.
New habits are often difficult to get going because they require Two things #1 that you change your behaviours, #2. that you remember to do them.
According to Zen Habits writer Leo Babauta, the often-overlooked key to building a new habit is to tie it to a trigger – an event that will remind you (eventually automatically) to carry out your habit:
“Habits become automatic after we have created a bond between the trigger and the habit. The stronger the bond, the more ingrained the habit.”
Babauta recommends finding an action or event that is already ingrained into your routines in life.
For example, if you need to remember to take a daily medication, keeping the box on top of your toothbrush will help you tie the action of taking your pill to your already-automatic (we would hope) routine of brushing your teeth.
If you want to build a habit of staying in touch with old friends, use an already-ingrained habit (opening your email client for the first time in the morning, checking social media on your commute) to act as a trigger to send one checking-in message to someone you haven’t been in touch with for a while.
Need to start injecting your weekly routine with something fresh and new, to inspire new ideas and broaden your experience of the world? Every time you see a vaguely interesting event coming up in your local area, put it into your calendar.
Consistent triggers make new habits feel natural, faster.
Work with the way you work
A habit is an expectation you have set for yourself (or, sometimes, that someone else / society expects of you).
Gretchen Rubin suggests there are four primary ways, or ‘tendencies’ with which people respond to those expectations.
Knowing your ‘tendency’ (Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel), you can pre-empt the ways in which you might get stuck building or maintaining your habits, and set up systems and approaches that help you get things done.
You might, for example, need to rely on accountability more than others, and tell multiple people about the habits you are trying to build.
Reminding yourself of the greater good you are trying to achieve might be the primary kick you need.
Or perhaps deadlines are the only thing that will get you out of analysis paralysis and moving forward.
Take the Four Tendencies Test here, and use the results to craft your approach to habits in the way that works for you.
Finding fulfilling work is a revelatory process
It is what makes it magical. It is what makes it nerve-wracking, too.
If only a career you love was the output of a nice, neat algebraic formula, setting goals and project-managing, the whole thing would be smart and simple.
But it’s not.
It’s messy, and full of surprises, and it requires you to be in a space of not-knowing for far longer than most human beings are comfortable with.
What will anchor you, keep you grounded and making forward progress, are habits and systems.
Consistent, forward nudges that you actually do, that keep you feeling proud and motivated, and that opens the door, over and over again, to the possibility of being gloriously surprised, to the unexpected and the new.
What habit could you start cultivating in your own career change? Let me know in the comments below.
Self-esteem is not everything; it’s just that there’s nothing without it. – Gloria Steinem
Is your Self-Esteem Low?
Do you lack the self-confidence and self-belief you need to make your own way in this world? Is this destroying your spirit and preventing you from moving forward in the way you imagined?
Many people suffer through periods of low self-esteem, and often for many different reasons. If you are one of these people, then you probably recognize the fact that you tend to judge and/or evaluate yourself negatively. You probably have a low personal value and opinion of yourself, or maybe a low appraisal and evaluation of your self-worth. In fact, low self-esteem might be making you feel somewhat useless, inferior, inadequate, incomplete and worthless. This is no way to live.
The Symptoms and Habits of Low Self-Esteem
There are many symptoms and habits of low self-esteem. However, taken in isolation, these symptoms do not indicate that you have self-esteem issues. Red flags should only be raised when several symptoms come bundled together and begin taking over your life.
Here is a list of the symptoms of low self-esteem you should look out for:
- Constantly striving for perfection.
- Having low or biased expectations of yourself.
- A tendency to exaggerate your problems.
- The habit of accentuating the negatives.
- Underestimating your personal ability.
- Ignoring the positives and potential opportunities.
- Being riddled with self-doubt.
- Constantly blaming and criticizing yourself.
- Lack of self-confidence in your ability to get things done.
- Inability to accept compliments.
- Unable to concentrate because of a lack of energy, which often results from poor sleep patterns.
- Hesitant and tense physiological movements.
- A tendency to avoid people and social situations in an attempt to steer clear of judgment, criticism, and the evaluations that other people might make about you.
- Often experiencing the emotions of loneliness, guilt, frustration, dejection, hopelessness, anxiety, anger, shame, worry, sadness and depression.
Experiencing one or more of these emotions from time-to-time is not a clear indication that you have self-esteem issues. However, if you tend to cycle through many of these emotions throughout your week, then it is a clear sign that something is not right and that low self-esteem could be the underlying problem.
How is Low Self-Esteem Maintained?
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how individuals maintain low levels of self-esteem. There are however, certain factors that can often lead you down the self-esteem spiral.
Indulging in any of the low self-esteem habits discussed above will tend to keep you within a very poor state-of-mind that positions you on the low end of the emotional spectrum. In fact, the more of these symptoms you have, the more you will struggle with your emotions.
In addition to these symptoms and habits, low self-esteem is often maintained because you have very restrictive personal assumptions and rules. What this means is that you make assumptions about things in a very negative way that provides you limited options for moving forward.
You tend to see the worst in every situation, which gives you very little hope for the future. In addition your rules and personal standards are very restrictive. You don’t expect much of yourself, and as a result, you tend to stay constricted within the confines of your comfort zone and never take the necessary risks to break out of emotional slumps.
Your restrictive rules for living your life are often built upon poor language choices that provide you with minimal options moving forward.
For instance, you often use words such as:
- If I don’t… then…
- I should never…
- I must… or else…
- I can’t…
- I should do this… but…
The language you use provides insight into the rules that govern your life, decisions, and actions. These rules drain your self-esteem consistently. You tend to aggravate your self-esteem by making negative self-evaluations which are poor and limited. This leaves you feeling that you have no hope for the future, and no hope of improving your current circumstances. You do this because it helps “ground” you and gives you a sense of control.
The Evolution of Self-Esteem Over Time
Self-esteem encompasses your personal attitudes, beliefs, emotions, biased self-opinions and expectations, as-well-as your behaviours, decisions and actions. It also encapsulates the unhelpful assumptions you tend to make, the rules you live by, and the negative self-evaluations that tend to rob you of any hope for the future.
All of these factors go into building or destroying your self-esteem and have manifested in your life over time and are built on certain events that have influenced your emotional growth over the years. Low self-esteem often stems from negative life influences and/or experiences you have had over the course of many years, often going right back to early childhood.
Your family, friends, peers, teachers, role models and society, all played an important part in the development of your self-esteem as you were growing up. They showed and taught you, directly and indirectly, how to best handle your emotions during difficult times, how to overcome obstacles, how to interpret the events and circumstances in your life, etc.
Some of these lessons were helpful. If you are experiencing low self-esteem at the moment though, then it’s likely that other lessons you learned over this period were quite unhelpful. The net result is now you have a set of ineffective emotional coping skills that are restricting you in a variety of ways.
There might have been significant moments of your life that left profound emotional and psychological scars. For instance, prolonged illness, neglect, abuse, hardship, and punishment can leave a lasting impression on your mind. These things are currently influencing how you process and interpret the world around you. You might have found it very difficult to fit-in socially at school and/or at home while growing up. This has left a very deep emotional scar that you tend to hold onto in the present moment directly affecting your levels of self-esteem.
Other reasons why you might be suffering from low self-esteem today could be because of a lack of attention, encouragement, warmth, praise or affection you received as a child. Maybe you simply failed to live up to other people’s expectations of you. They may have had very high personal standards and limiting rules that you found very difficult to live up to. This entire experience while growing up has made you feel somewhat incapable, incompetent, worthless, inadequate, inferior and useless.
You have no self-belief and meagre expectations of yourself and your ability. Your low self-esteem can also be attributed to the observations you made as a child. You would observe adults going about their daily lives and these adults experienced hardships, setbacks, and personal problems. How they dealt with these challenges was important, because the habits, behaviours, and emotions they displayed during these moments has left a lasting impression on your mind.
These adult mentors taught you how to handle life’s difficulties and how to cope with your emotions indirectly. Today, you are doing what you know what you have been taught; for better or worse.
All this goes to show that your low levels of self-esteem are not entirely of your own making. In fact, you learnt and picked up certain ways of doing things and responding to situations from other people. Your current levels of self-esteem and the coping mechanisms you use to work through your personal challenges are a result of many years of conditioning that you went through while growing up.
However, even though you might not be responsible for this conditioning, you are responsible for your own life today. If something is not working for you, then you must take responsibility for changing things for the better and reconditioning your mind in a more positive and empowering way that will help you to live the life you desire to create for yourself.
How to Improve Self-Esteem
There are certain things you can do that will naturally help you raise your self-esteem throughout the day. Many of these suggestions are very straightforward and simple to implement. Some might take a little more time and effort. Either way, there is no miracle cure here. You will need to commit and dedicate yourself to adopting new habits, behaviours, and ways of thinking and doing things to reap the rewards in the long-run.
Take Care Emotionally
Raising your self-esteem begins with your emotional health. Your emotions are the keys to your well-being and provide you with the stability you need to get through difficult moments of your life successfully. When you are in control of your emotions, you will be more capable of handling the challenges that life throws your way. However, this requires you to focus on developing your emotional coping skills to prepare yourself for these difficult moments of your life.
It is important that you prepare yourself by learning how to manage stress, anxiety, fear, frustration, guilt, anger and worry in more effective and productive ways. These are emotions you are likely to confront throughout your day. These emotions can either control you, or you can learn to manage them in ways that will help empower and strengthen you during difficult moments of your life.
Developing these important emotional coping skills will help you to take charge of your thoughts, behaviours and the decisions you make. This will provide you with certainty and confidence moving forward, and as a result, it will help raise your levels of self-esteem.
Take Credit for Your Successes
This is a straightforward idea. However, it can have a profoundly positive impact on raising your levels of self-esteem.
When you deflect credit for your successes, you deny yourself the opportunity to gain something of value from your experience. And because there is no psychological reward, there is no emotional gratification, and this will tend to keep you in a weak state-of-mind that provides you with no avenue for further emotional growth and development.
The moment you begin taking credit for your accomplishments, a whole new world of possibilities opens up for you. You begin developing higher levels of self-belief and self-confidence. This has a tendency to improve your ability to make decisions, and the better decisions you make, the more confidence and self-belief you will have. Taking credit for your accomplishments will focus your mind on what’s working and on all the positive aspects of your accomplishments.
It is not unusual to only focus on or take notice of the negatives, and this would only leave you feeling discouraged and unhappy. Therefore, taking credit for your successes, owning them, and embracing your accomplishments is a good step to building you self confidence. You have nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. Use this ongoing momentum to help you to permanently raise your levels of self-confidence and with it your self-esteem.
Focus on Solutions
Whenever things do not go as expected and you are tempted to get down, take notice of these changes and switch on your solution-focused mindset. First, recognize the positives of the situation, and then look for ways you can make things better to improve your circumstances. Solutions might not always be immediately evident, however with a curious mind, and a desire to ask the right kinds of solution-focused questions, you will eventually find the answers you are after.
If you are suffering from low self-esteem, it is easy to exaggerate the negatives and minimize the positives of your situation. It is also easy to underestimate your own ability, to doubt and criticize yourself, and to ignore the opportunities that may be present. On the other hand, it is difficult to see things in a positive light. In such instances, you might like to focus on reframing your circumstances differently or simply asking someone else for their unique point-of-view or perspective.
Other people might often see things very differently, and you can use their view of the situation to build the confidence you need to move forward.
Here are some questions you might like to ask yourself that will help you shift your perspective about the situation:
What conclusions and/or assumptions am I making about this situation?
How am I exaggerating the negatives?
How am I minimizing the positives?
How else could I view this? How else could I think about this?
How could I view this situation in a more positive and empowering way?
How would another person view this situation? What would they tell me? Who could I ask?
What are the potential opportunities here?
What is there to feel good about and grateful for?
What positive action could I take right now to help me work through this successfully?
By focusing on what you want, as-well-as on potential solutions and opportunities, you are putting yourself in a primary position to find the answers you need that will help you move forward in a positive way.
Avoid Limiting Language
Raising your self-esteem requires you to consciously take charge of your language. This includes your verbal language as well as your self-talk or the thoughts you tend to indulge in that make you feel absolutely miserable.
Focus on talking to yourself more positively and encouragingly. Yes, you might not have all the answers or the confidence you need to get your desired outcome, just yet. The answers and confidence will come over time, however, what is most important here, is that you get yourself into a positive frame-of-mind. Do this by focusing on your strengths, on your positive qualities, and on the things that you are able to control and/or influence in the moment. Once you feel that you have some form of control over your circumstances, this will give you the confidence you need to move forward in a more positive way.
Create or Join a Support Network
There are many groups and support networks out there both online and offline. Like-minded individuals who are going through the same challenges you are attempting to work through gives you a sense that you are not alone. They are there to support you, and you can be there to support them. Sometimes just by sharing your story and experience with a group of supportive individuals will help you find the confidence you need within yourself to move through difficult moments of your life.
Alternatively, you could join a sports team. Even if you are not a sporty person, just getting involved in sporting activities can do wonders for your self-esteem. Sport provides a social and very supportive environment that can help build the foundations for your growth and development on a physical and emotional level.
Update Your Knowledge and Skills
Often a lack of self-belief is a clear indication that you simply do not have the necessary skills, knowledge or experience required to excel in a certain area. For this very reason, it is important that you actually take the time to assess what kind of knowledge, skills or experience you might need moving forward that will help you improve your confidence within specific areas of your life.
Where do I want to feel a little more confident?
What kind of knowledge might I need in this area of my life?
What types of skills might I need to develop?
What kind of experience might I need to gain?
How will I acquire this knowledge, learn the skills, and gain the necessary experience?
What small steps could I take daily that will help me move forward confidently in this area of my life?
Raising your self-esteem will take time, and it will take gradual steps. It is important you commit yourself to taking a long-term view of your journey. Your short-term results might be inconsistent, however, if you remain focused on the bigger picture you will find the motivation you need to persevere through the short-term pain.
Spend Time Pampering Yourself
Take time for yourself. Take time to relax, to play, and to pamper yourself.Self care and self love is very important to ensure you reward yourself for your efforts. Maybe you could get a massage, go to a spa, relax in a steam room, or enjoy a nice warm bath. Not only will these moments give you time to relax, but they will also provide you with an opportunity to reflect and gain some perspective on your life’s choices, decisions, and actions. When you are relaxed, you will tend to think differently about circumstances, and this could potentially help you gain the perspective and confidence you need to make better decisions moving forward.
Creativity, Confidence, and Passion
It is very possible that the reason why you are suffering from low self-esteem is simply because you are focusing on the wrong things. Maybe all you need is to tune-in to your passions and your life’s purpose. Maybe you simply need to tap into your talents and strengths. Or just maybe you need to focus on activities you are good at and enjoy doing.
Take time to have a think about some of the things you are passionate about. Have a think about the activities you enjoy, and consider your talents, strengths and your core values. Within these areas, you will find the answers you need to build your life with purpose. Also, within these areas is where you will find your creative spirit.
Once you are living with purpose, you will find the confidence in yourself to do things that otherwise seemed very difficult and problematic. You will finally have the self-esteem you need to make those tough decisions and to take the chances that will help you improve your life for the better.
Set Inspiring Goals
To live with purpose, you need to set inspiring goals that keep you motivated and excited.
What’s something that inspires and motivates me to get out of bed in the morning?
How could I turn this passion into a concrete goal?
How will I go about pursuing this goal?
As you work towards your goal, keep track of your progress and thoughts within a journal. The act of putting your thoughts and problems down on paper will help you to more effectively work through any emotional challenges you might face along the way. In fact, use it as a tool for self-improvement and self-reflection.
Over time you will make progress. However, it is sometimes difficult to recognize these advances. This is where your journal comes in handy. Every week take some time to read over your thoughts and reflect upon the progress you have made and the lessons you have learned along the way. This by itself could provide you with the boost you need to raise your levels of self-esteem moving forward.
Make Better Decisions
Raising your self-esteem mainly comes down to making better choices throughout the day. Instead of choosing to accentuate the negatives, you choose instead to focus on the positives. Instead of exaggerating your problems, you choose instead to look for solutions. It all comes down to the choices you make.
To improve your choices, take the time to evaluate your behaviour, thoughts and the emotions you tend to experience on a daily basis. Keep track of these things within your journal and periodically assess how your behaviours, thoughts, and emotions are influencing the choices and decisions you make. The insights you gain from this exercise could help you make better choices in the future. And the better the choices you make, the higher the levels of self-esteem you are likely to experience.
Was this article helpful? Please leave a comment I would love to hear from you. 🙂
We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done. – Henry Longfellow
What Exactly is a Self-Concept?
A self-concept is an understanding we have of ourself that is based on our personal experiences, body image, our thoughts, and how we tend to label ourself in various situations.
A self-concept can also be defined as an all-encompassing awareness we had of ourself in the past; the awareness we have of ourself in the present, and the expectations we have of ourself at a future time.
Our self-concept is built upon how we perceive ourself based on the knowledge we have gained over a lifetime of experiences.
A self-concept is a perception we have of our image, abilities, and [in some ways] of our own individual uniqueness.
This perception we have of ourself is based on the information we have gathered about our values, life roles, goals, skills, and abilities over time.
Our self-concept is a collection of beliefs we have about our own nature, qualities, and behaviour. It is about how we think and evaluate ourself at any given moment in time.
To truly understand what a self-concept is and its impact on our life, we first need to break down the three components of a self-concept. These three components are based on the work of Humanist Psychologist Carl Rogers.
Our Self Image
Our self-image comes down to how we see ourself in the present moment. This includes the labels we give ourself about our personality and the beliefs we have about how the external world perceives we.
It is, however, important to note that our self-image is not necessarily based on reality. For example, a person with anorexia may have a self-image that makes them believe they are obese, however, in reality, that is far from the truth.
Given this, it is crucial to recognize that a self-image is only our own perception of ourself and has no real basis in reality.
Our self-ideal is how we wish we could be at a future time. This is our ideal self or the ideal person we envision of being and becoming. Often times, how people see themselves and how they would like to see themselves does not quite match up. This is precisely what causes problems and often leads to self-sabotaging behaviour patterns and emotional struggles.
Our self-esteem encompasses our current emotional experiences. It refers to the extent to which we like or approve of ourself or the extent to which we value ourself. We might, for example, have a positive or negative view of ourself. When we have a unfavourable view of ourself, we are seen as having low self-esteem. This often manifests in a lack of confidence and pessimism.
On the other hand, when we have a favourable view of ourself we are seen as having high self-esteem. This often manifests in a confident disposition, self-acceptance, and optimism.
A healthy self-concept will help us to get ahead in life. It will allow us to maximize our potential and get the most from our strengths, talents, and abilities. A weak self-concept on the other hand, will hinder our progress. In fact, a fragile self-concept will most likely lead to self-sabotaging behaviour. As a result, we will struggle to follow through with our actions. Subsequently, we will fail to achieve the goals and objectives we set for ourself.
The Value of a Healthy Self-Concept
The value of having a healthy self-concept becomes more evident when we recognize how much it influences our ability to manage our emotional experiences. However, it does not stop there. A healthy self-concept also determines how far we will step outside our comfort zone to solve a problem or achieve a goal. It also influences how we utilize our physiology while confronting challenges, obstacles, and problems.
A healthy self-concept impacts the questions we typically ask ourself each day. It also affects how we interact with people, how we think about ourself, others, and circumstances.
When we put all this together, our self-concept effectively determines what we will do or choose not to do at any given moment in time. It, therefore, influences our inherent potential to do, be, have and achieve our desired objectives.
The Forces Influencing Our Self-Concept
There are a number of forces that shape our self-concept and, therefore, impact its health and vitality over time.
Some of these forces come from internal sources, while other forces come from external sources.
Internal sources include what we think about ourself and/or others, what we pay attention to, how we interpret the events and circumstances of our life, and how we reframe both failure and success.
External sources include the environment we spend most of our time in, our interactions with others, and how other people tend to label us.
The most important thing to note here is the impact that other people have on our self-concept.
Through rejection, judgment, ridicule, and criticism, other people often influence how we feel about ourself, the labels we give ourself, and fundamentally what we believe about ourself, about our own abilities, and the world around us.
In many ways, our self-worth is tied to the people in our life. Therefore, if we are struggling with an unhealthy self-concept, then it could very well be a direct result of the interactions we have with other people.
The bad news is that all of these internal and external sources have a profound impact on our self-concept. The good news is that starting today, we can begin taking affirmative and proactive action to improve our self-concept and optimize how we live our life.
Tell-tale Signs that We Have an Unhealthy Self-Concept
An unhealthy self-concept is something that often drags us down in life. It’s something that limits our opportunities, denies we access to essential resources, and undermines our potential.
An unhealthy self-concept implies that we have a low value of ourself. When we have a low value of ourselves we typically lack the confidence needed to move boldly in the direction of our goals. Without self-confidence, we lack the resourcefulness needed to overcome uncertainty, to solve problems, and to effectively manage change.
Life rapidly gets overwhelming and difficult to bear. We struggle with our emotions and make poor decisions. Everything essentially becomes a struggle and things really should not be this way.
Our unhealthy self-concept is getting in the way of living our life to our best potential. It is filtering out the reality of how life is and creating an alternate reality that we have unfortunately accepted as the truth.
What is more is that we become so caught up in our own lives, that it is difficult to pinpoint whether or not we are actually struggling with a weak self-concept.
There are, however, specific signs to look out for that can help us identify whether or not we are struggling with a weak self-concept.
We likely have a weak self-concept when we…
- Fail to give affection.
- Always compare ourself to other people.
- Succumb to jealousy.
- Consistently reject compliments.
- Perpetually criticise ourself and others.
- Indulge in negative self-talk that manifests in pessimism.
- Persistently suffer from guilt about what we could, should, or would have done.
- Undermine our own personal needs in favour of other people’s needs.
- Suffer from poor emotional and physical health.
Taken individually these symptoms do not signify that we have a poor self-concept. However, if you have ticked 3 or 4 items off this list, then it is probably a clear indication that your self-concept has taken a hit.
If we have a low self-concept, then it is time to commit yourself to upgrading your thoughts, beliefs, decisions, and actions moving forward. Only in this way will you transform your self-concept and optimize how you live your life.
Given all this, it is important to note that all these signs are nothing more than defensive mechanisms that protect us from emotional harm.
Our body and mind are doing their best to cope with life, events, and circumstances. However, frequently these coping strategies do not quite work to our advantage.
What is worse is that we might succumb to indulging in limiting behaviours in a feeble attempt to feel better about ourself.
- Shift into “denial mode” and deny that anything is wrong despite evidence to the contrary.
- Make assumptions and/or justifications that are not based on fact but rather on our biased “rose-coloured” view of reality.
- Launch into a verbal barrage where we attack ourself and others based on false perceptions of how we see things.
- Choose to bask in negativity. Life sucks as it is, so why not just wallow in self-pity and experience the full brunt of our negative feelings?
- Try and avoid people and circumstances by distracting ourself with addictions and other unhealthy habitual behaviours.
All of these semi-coping strategies might provide us with some semblance of control. They may even provide us with some relief and temporary satisfaction. However, in the long-run, they will only hurt us. We will hurt because we struggle to face the reality of our situation.
We are incapable of facing the truth and without the truth, we won’t make the necessary changes that will transform our self-concept and help us take charge of our life.
How to Improve Our Self-Concept
Transforming our self-concept won’t be easy. In fact, it will take a great deal of patience, time, and effort.
Along this journey, we will likely need to release old habits, limiting beliefs, and unhelpful thoughts. We will essentially need to question the value of how we have been living our life, which includes the choices and decisions we have been making.
If the choices we make are not stretching our comfort zone and pushing us toward our goals then change is something that needs to be on the horizon.
Even though this journey and the inevitable transformation will not be easy, it will, however, be worth your while.
No longer will we be at the mercy of our rose-coloured view of reality. Instead, we will have taken control. With control comes confidence and with confidence comes potential to transform our life with purpose.
It is important to note that the quality of our life is a direct reflection of our emotional state of mind. What this means is that when our emotions are healthy and serving our greater good, then the quality of our life will likewise improve.
Our life improves because life always comes down to the emotional experiences we choose to indulge in. When our emotional experiences are of a healthy and positive nature, this improves the quality of our thoughts. As our thoughts improve so do our choices, decisions, and actions. When we make better choices, we get better results. With improved outcomes, we feel immeasurably better about ourself and when we feel better about ourself, our self-concept grows stronger.
That is, in essence, the key that will help transform a poor self-concept into something that can help optimize how we live the rest of our life.
Lets have a look at the steps we can take to Improve our Self-Concept
Step 1: Make a Personal Contract
Before we begin working through these suggestions, it’s imperative that the very first thing we do is make a personal contract.
Write up a contract with yourself that gives You the green light to initiate the process of change.
Things must change…
I am responsible for this change…
I am committed to making this change…
If for any reason you are unable to tick-off all three boxes, then you are just not ready to instigate change yet.
Let us look at this in a little more detail.
Firstly, acknowledge that changes need to be made. If you are unable to admit that there is something wrong, then there is no point moving forward with this process.
Secondly, you need to take responsibility for making these changes. Nobody is responsible for your life but YOU. Without YOU this can not be done. Only You can make this decision. If at any point you feel or believe or think that someone else is going to or should be involved in this process for you or with you – You are not ready to initiate changes yet.
Thirdly, you must be committed to making the necessary changes to improve our life. Without commitment, there is no motivation and without motivation, there just are just not enough reasons for you to initiate change. You need to know WHY you need to and want to make the changes. Without a solid WHY to keep you motivated things will fall apart.
You therefore, need to acknowledge that things must change, You need to take responsibility for this change, and You need to commit yourself to follow through with the change.
Once you have ticked all three of these boxes, you will be ready to take the first step along your journey toward a healthier self-concept.
Step 2: Discover Who We Are then Bridge the Gap!
Your next step to transforming your self-concept is to discover who you are.
Now, on the surface, this might seem kind of silly. We already know who we are, right? I am me and yo are you! We are a physical beings living a life that is uniquely ours. However, below the surface, we are in reality so much more than that.
So, my question is, do you honestly know who you really are?
What we are going to try and do here is identify the gap between “who we are” and “who we are seeking to become.”
To strengthen our self-concept, we must figure out how to bridge this gap successfully. We must essentially merge the ME [YOU] in the NOW together with the ME[YOU] in the FUTURE.
This, of course, is not going to be easy. In fact, there will always be some kind of discrepancy. This is important to understand because without a discrepancy there is no motivation to grow and develop ourselves over time.
However, if this discrepancy is too significant between the YOU of today and the YOU that you desire to become in the future then your self-concept will never bloom into its full potential. There must, therefore, be congruence, or otherwise, self-actualization is impossible.
With this in mind, take time to answer the following questions:
Who am I?
Who am I really?
Who am I physically?
Who am I socially?
Who am I emotionally?
Who am I spiritually?
Who am I in terms of my accomplishments?
Who am I in terms of my failures and mistakes?
Who am I in terms of my goals?
Who am I in terms of my social roles?
Who am I really? Why?
Who am I not? Why not?
The purpose of these questions is to identify how we see ourself in the present moment and then compare that against the final set of questions laid out below. The final set of questions focuses on what kind of person we are seeking to become.
As we go through each question, we will gain various insights and perspectives into who we are. And that is perfectly okay. Embrace these differences, because this is in essence how we see ourself each day.
It is also important to note that there are no incorrect answers. Things are the way they are.
What is most relevant here is whether or not these answers are congruent with the answers we give to the following set of questions:
Who am I ideally seeking to become?
How do I see myself in the future?
What kind of person is this person? What is this person like?
What kinds of qualities does this person have?
How does this person think?
How does this person talk to themselves?
What kind of questions does this person ask themselves?
What kind of emotions does this person experience?
What kind of habits does this person indulge in?
What experiences does this person have each day?
What kind of goals is this person working towards?
What kind of person is this person really?
Our ideal self must be congruent with our perceived self in the present moment.
If there is a significant difference between the two, then we must work on bridging that gap thereby strengthening our self-concept.
Let’s take a closer look at that gap.
What is the gap between my perceived self and my ideal self?
Where is the gap most significant?
Where is the gap not so significant?
Is the distance between the gap realistic?
How could I begin bridging this gap starting today?
Our objective for the remainder of this journey is to begin bridging that gap between our ideal self and the self we are experiencing at this very moment.
The more congruent both of these “selves” are, the stronger and healthier our self-concept will become.
Before moving on, I do have a few words of caution.
Our self-ideal must be realistic and achievable otherwise, we will struggle to meet our highest standards of performance. Subsequently, our self-concept will continue to suffer.
The key therefore is to ensure that our self-ideal is not entirely out of this world at least not at the beginning.
Given this, be sure to look at your standards and expectations to make them more achievable. Only when you reach these set standards and expectations should you incrementally raise the bar higher.
Remember though that your self-image is often not based on reality BUT rather based on your interpretation of reality.
Therefore, if your self-image is based on false assumptions or distorted perspectives, then you will first need to work through these issues before moving through the process outlined here.
Our discussion here is more about using this process to help build our self-confidence so that we can then take the necessary action steps to achieve our desired goals and objectives.
Time to Make Some Key Changes to Improve Our Self-Concept
Below you will find numerous suggestions and guidelines to help you transform your self-concept. Some of these suggestions are easy and quick to implement, while others might take a little time.
What is, however, crucial here is what you focus on while making these changes. This essentially comes down to three fundamental things:
- Changing Your habits of thought.
- Changing Your self-talk.
- Changing Your belief systems.
No matter how we proceed, every particular change we desire to make comes down to just these three fundamental things.
No matter what ideas we decide to implement, be sure to always keep in mind how these changes can be made in relation to your thoughts, self-talk, and the belief systems that govern your subconscious behaviour.
Let us work through the following ideas and this will start making more sense.
Our first objective is to look within and become very consciously aware of our daily thoughts, self-talk, belief systems, psychological rules, and the questions we tend to ask.
Are my thoughts aligned with my self-image?
What kind of thoughts do I allow myself to dwell upon?
What are these thoughts doing to me?
How do these thoughts make me feel?
How do I tend to talk to myself?
What questions do I tend to ask myself?
What are the consequences of my self-talk and the questions I ask myself?
What do I tend to believe about myself?
What do I tend to believe about my abilities?
Is this congruent with my self-ideal?
How does all this make me feel?
How do these “rules” influence my daily undertakings?
Are all these things congruent with my self-ideal?
How can I make the necessary adjustments to match my self-image with my self-ideal?
Our objective is to reach congruence in these areas.
Our self-image will never directly align with our self-ideal. However, we can certainly make the necessary adjustments to our mindset to move in the right direction.
To assist you with this transition process, it is necessary to give yourself time for meditation and visualization.
Meditation will help clear the clutter in your brain. It will encourage you to think and act more mindfully throughout the day. This will subsequently improve your ability to make effective decisions. Visualization, can provide you with the necessary vision you need to better understand your future direction. This will likewise help you lay down a much clearer path toward your desired outcomes.
Remember, that how we think about things has a lot to do with our perceptions and interpretations of reality.
Interpreting things one way will give you access to a particular set of resources and opportunities. However, interpreting things another way will provide you with access to a different set of resources and opportunities. Ironically, it might even deny you access altogether.
It is therefore paramount to keep in mind that how we frame and/or reframe our experiences essentially determines what we gain or lose from those experiences.
Therefore, when problems arise, it is not what happens to us, but how we interpret what happens that makes all the difference.
Transforming Our Physiology
When it comes to our physiology, it is important to remind ourselves that the body and mind are intrinsically connected.
What this means is that how we think and how we emotionalize our experience influences how we use our physiology. Likewise, how we use our physiology influences how we think and emotionalize our experiences. These are both interconnected, and therefore what we do to one directly influences the other.
With that in mind, have a think about your body and how you use it throughout the day. Do you move your body with confidence, or do you tend to move it sluggishly? What about your breath and posture? What is that like? How active are you during the day or do you tend to spend your days confined to a specific room or area without much movement?
By making small adjustments to our physiology, we will indirectly influence our inner world. As our inner world changes we will begin bridging the gap between where we are today and our ideal self.
Improve Your Lifestyle Choices
Try this little exercise. Close your eyes and see Your Ideal Self. What do you look like?
When it comes to your lifestyle, you need to start making some choices that will help move you toward your ideal self.
What kind of life does my ideal self live?
How often does my ideal self exercise?
What kind of food does my ideal self eat?
What kind of environment does my ideal self spend the majority of time in?
What does my ideal self spend time on?
How does my ideal self tend to work? Where? On what?
What kind of lifestyle choices does my ideal self make?
How can I begin bridging the lifestyle gap between where I am today and my ideal self of tomorrow?
As we go through these questions, we will get a strong sense of the changes we might need to make to bridge the gap between where we are today and our ideal self.
Above all else, keep reminding yourself that it is all about reaching a state of congruence where your current self (self-image) matches your future self (self-ideal) on as many levels as possible.
Strengthen Your Self-Confidence
When we have an unhealthy self-concept, we will typically struggle with our self-confidence.
If we struggle with self-confidence, we are often very susceptible to falling prey to rejection, to criticism, to judgment, and to the influence of others.
To strengthen our self-confidence, we need to explore self-love. Before we can feel confident in the external world, we must first find confidence in ourself and that comes through self-love.
Self-love means fully accepting ourself despite your flaws, despite our weaknesses, and despite our inadequacies. It means feeling comfortable in our own skin no matter what we look like or how we feel. To find our self-love, spend time with yourself. However, do not just spend time watching mindless television, actually, spend time pampering ourself. Get a massage, enjoy a hot sauna, go for a nature walk, etc.
First and foremost, the key is to reconnect with yourself. It is only when we have found that connection with yourself that you will tap into your true sense of confidence.
Gain Relevant Knowledge and Skills
Your ideal self-has certain skills, knowledge, and abilities. Identify what these things are and then go to work acquiring the relevant knowledge and skills you need to help bridge the gap between your self-image and your self-ideal.
You will often find the information you need in books, by taking courses, by volunteering your time to a cause, or by connecting with people who already have the knowledge and skill you desire.
You could, get a mentor or life coach. Find someone who could guide you along your journey toward your self-ideal.
Build Your Support Network
As we work on developing our knowledge and skills, we will most certainly need support along our journey. We will need people to help us through the tough times and struggles. We will need people that can be relied upon for emotional support and we will need people who will accept us unconditionally without strings attached. 😉
These people must, be positive, inspiring, creative, passionate, and caring. They must be giving and generous, joyful, and happy souls. These are the kinds of people that should comprise your support network.
Our support network might, be made up of friends, colleagues, family members, life coaches and/or mentors. These people will be there to prop you up when you are facing difficulties. They will be there to help keep you motivated, focused, and inspired as you make progress toward our ideal self. Your support network will be your voice of reason, and your sanity check and most of all these are the people who will hold you accountable.
Use your support network for guidance and direction. However, don’t give up control of your own life by putting your destiny in other people’s hands. This will never work out well in the long-run. You must be in charge of your own choices and decisions. To be in charge means not concerning yourself with what others think. It means not worrying about criticism or rejection and it means not comparing ourself with others.
We are all on our own unique path. Our support network is there to support us, but ultimately we make the final decision that determines the direction we will take.
Set Inspiring Goals
Having inspiring goals means that our life has purpose and meaning. This keeps us motivated and active. However, we don’t just want to set random goals. We actually want to set goals that match our self-ideal.
So ask ourself:
What goals is my ideal self working towards?
What purpose is my ideal self striving for?
What inspires and motivates my ideal self?
Once you have your answers to these questions, set some inspiring goals and lay down a plan of action that will help you bridge the gap between where you are today and where you ideally would like to be in the future.
Building a healthy and robust self-concept no doubt takes some work and consistent effort. In fact, it takes time. This is not something that we can build or transform overnight. Likewise, it is not something that we work through once and then forget about for the rest of our life.
Transforming our self-concept is something that we need to work on consistently over time. It is something that must continuously change and evolve as we reach new milestones along our life’s journey.
This journey certainly does not need to be difficult. There is no need to complete this process in one go, or even set timeframes to it. Take your time. Set small daily objectives, and over many weeks, months and years you will make considerable progress as you sculpt who you are and whom you desire to become.
Was this article helpful? – What skills or techniques have you used to transform your concept? Leave a comment I would love to hear from you.
What is Self-Esteem?
Any discussion about how to build our self-worth must start with a definition of self-esteem. The two are, of course, related. Your self-esteem is undoubtedly influenced by your self-worth. However, they are not the same.
Self-esteem is primarily built upon sources outside of yourself that you don’t actually control.
Self-esteem encapsulates the thoughts and feelings you experience at each moment. These thoughts and feelings have a direct impact on your results, your behaviour, and your performance.
Self-esteem is primarily built upon the value derived from doing the things that get your desired outcomes. But it’s more than just about “doing” something. It is a direct outcropping of how you feel about yourself at any given moment. This is based purely on your actions.
How you feel about yourself is heavily influenced by how you think you are fairing compared to others. In other words, your self-esteem is derived from what you think others “think” of you, based on your results and actions.
Given all this, it is quite clear that self-esteem is not something that comes from within ourselves, but rather something that comes from outside of ourselves and subsequently influences how we feel at any given moment.
How we feel at any given time has nothing to do with reality, but instead, it is purely based on our perspective and interpretation of that reality. Given all this, it’s quite clear to see that self-esteem is very fickle and can shift with changing opinions and circumstances. However, this isn’t true for people who have a high level of self-worth.
A high degree of self-worth naturally enhances our self-esteem, thereby providing us with the self-confidence needed to follow through with our chosen decisions and actions.
What is Self-Worth?
Self-worth is an internal state of being that comes from self-understanding, self-love, and self-acceptance.
It is a state that is somewhat timeless and unchanging because it is a direct measure of how you value and regard yourself in spite of what others may say or do. It is therefore, something that does not quickly or easily change when external factors or circumstances change. Self-worth is steady and unflinching, and therefore, holds power to radically transform your life for the better.
This is, all well and good, but what does it actually mean to have a high level of self-worth?
A high level of self-worth means having a favourable opinion or estimate of yourself. It means having unshakable faith in yourself and in your ability to follow through and get things done.
Having a high degree of self-worth means feeling worthy of good things. It means feeling deserving of happiness, health, wealth, success, and love — irrespective of the difficulties you face, the disappointments you experience, or of people’s opinions. It is unflinching.
To have a high level of self-worth means accepting yourself wholeheartedly at all times despite your flaws, weaknesses, and limitations. It is about recognizing the real value of who you are at this present moment.
To have a high level of self-worth means never allowing yourself to be defined by outside forces, including people’s opinions. It means never allowing outcomes to shake your confidence, faith or resolve.
All this essentially means that no matter what happens you are steadfast. Nothing outside of your “being” influences how you feel about yourself. Your influence alone is the only thing that matters.
You alone are the most significant factor in how you feel about yourself, about your life, and about your circumstances. And that is essentially where your personal power comes from.
How to Build Your Self-Worth
Having a high level of self-worth is no doubt of tremendous value. So, the question still remains, how do we go about building our self-worth? How do we create enough self-worth to empower our daily decisions and actions in a way that will help us achieve our desired outcomes?
What I would like to share with you is a five-step process for doing exactly that step-by-step.
This is not something that you can do just once and then forget about. It is something that you must consistently work on. That is the only way you will build anything of real value. Placing one single stone down on the ground doesn’t build a fortress. However, over time, as you lay down more stones on top of each other an impenetrable fortress begins to take shape. This takes time. Building a high level of self-worth will take time.
This is a long-term process that you need to work on consistently over time. The same as you would work out at a gym to get that ripped and toned body. Slow consistent daily work will get the fortress built and will grow more impenetrable and substantial until it becomes almost unbreakable. No matter what life throws at you, because you put in place a solid foundation that you consistently built over time, you will be able to withstand some of the toughest storms life has. That is the strength of the fortress. And that’s precisely where the power of your self-worth comes from as well.
With that in mind, let us jump into the five-step process to build your self-worth.
Step 1: The Self-Understanding Stage
Your first step involves getting to know yourself at a deeper and more profound level.
Imagine for a moment that you woke you one morning to find that absolutely everything you had was suddenly taken away. I mean literally everything including your possessions, career, money, relationships, friendships, accomplishments, and anything else that is physical and tangible. Ask yourself:
What if absolutely everything I have was suddenly taken away from me?
What if all I had left was just myself?
How would that make me feel?
What would I actually have that would be of value?
This is an interesting scenario. It is a scenario that many people probably never really take the time to imagine. It is interesting because how you feel about yourself after everything has been taken away is the measure of your self-worth.
If you have a high level of self-worth, then having everything taken away from you won’t change who you are as a person. Furthermore, it won’t shake your self-confidence because you do not measure your value by external circumstances. Instead, your value comes from within.
This is why it is absolutely critical to take the time to think long and hard about that question and answer it with genuine honesty.
What would I actually have left that would be of value?
The deeper you dig into this question, the more you will discover within yourself what you do actually value.
You must seriously take the time to ponder this question. The more time you take to consider the answer to this question, the more you will find, that this is where self-worth is comes from. It comes from understanding that…
No matter what happens externally and no matter what is taken away from me, I am not affected internally.
And that is what matters most when you begin to build your self-worth.
So let us look deeper into your true value by posing another set of questions that will help unlock how you see yourself with no masks or inhibitions.
Who am I? I am… I am not…
How am I?
How am I in the world?
How do others see me?
How do others speak about me?
What key life moments define who I am today?
What brings me the most passion, fulfilment, and joy?
Who you are and how you see yourself are keys to understanding your true value. How others see you and how they speak about you, is also, important. This is not so much about them but rather about how you feel about yourself as a result of how others see or speak about you. That is another measure of your self-worth.
Then there are those key life moments that bring you the most joy, passion, and fulfilment. These are the things that help you unlock the value you bring to the world.
However, this is not about pretty little rose petals and rainbows. This process involves being genuinely real with yourself.
Given this, let’s be real for a moment and take a look at your weaknesses and struggles.
Where do I struggle most?
Where do I need to improve?
What fears often hold me back?
What habitual emotions hurt me?
What mistakes do I tend to make?
Where do I tend to consistently let myself down?
Let us get real and accept the fact that we are only human. And as a human being, we all have our weaknesses and face our own personal struggles. We must be real and honest with our assessment of ourselves.
Only then will you be able to build a high degree of self-worth over time. And only then will you get the depth of understanding you need about yourself to move forward through this process.
And since we are being honest, let’s take a look at your strengths.
What abilities do I have?
What am I really good at?
Your strengths are the things that help build your self-confidence. They are the things that allow you to move forward with greater self-assurance. However, true strengths are only strengths by your own measure.
If you are relying on other people to tell you whether or not you are good at something, then that is not a true strength that comes from a sense of personal power.
People could very well change their minds then abruptly your strength turns into an afterthought. However, this does not need to be the case if you truly believe in your own personal value. That is what counts, and that is what truly matters when it comes to building your self-worth.
Step 2: The Self-Acceptance Stage
At this stage you presumably understand how you see yourself within the world around you. You probably also have a pretty clear picture of your current level of self-worth.
There will naturally be good things, neutral things, and things that you might not be too proud to admit. However, to build genuine self-worth, we must be real and authentic with ourselves at all times. This requires wholeheartedly acknowledging your true nature including the good, the bad, and the ugly.
We are all human and therefore none of us are perfect. Yes, you have flaws, you’ve made mistakes and failed miserably time and again. However, this is you. This is the true you. It is who you are. Perfectly imperfect.
Forgive yourself for everything you have done or not done in the past and accept yourself unconditionally without judgment or excuses.
This is you. This is who you are. Accept that by acknowledging that…
I accept the good, the bad and the ugly.
I fully accept every part of myself including my flaws, fears, behaviours, and qualities I might not be too proud of.
This is how I am, and I am at peace with that.
Fully accepting yourself in spite of all your flaws, weaknesses, and limitations is absolutely critical for developing a high level of self-worth.
This is you. You are being vulnerable, authentic, and real. Embrace who you are fully and completely. Embrace the fact that you will no longer allow outside forces to define you. Only in this way will you finally let go of everything that has been holding you back all these years.
Step 3: The Self-Love Stage
Having fully accepted yourself, it is now time to acknowledge your true value. To do this, it is important to begin practicing a little self-love. Which basically means treating yourself with kindness, tolerance, generosity, and compassion.
Yes, you have flaws. Yes, you have so many limitations and weaknesses, but so does the rest of humanity. That is part of being human. It is time to let all that go and begin to practice being compassionate with yourself.
Compassion, of course, comes through self-love, which comes from self-acceptance, which stems from self-understanding. Ironically these are the steps we went through as we moved through this process.
One simple method to begin practicing self-love is to get into the habit of speaking to yourself and about yourself in a positive and supportive way.
I feel valued and special…
I love myself completely…
I am a worthy and capable person…
Talking to yourself in this way brings your focus and attention to the beauty hidden within you.
You are no longer looking at outside circumstances or people for approval or acknowledgment. You are instead searching for that approval within yourself. And that is one of the biggest steps you can take toward building your self-worth.
Step 4: The Recognition Stage
When you have an understanding of yourself. When you have fully accepted yourself and when you reach a stage where you practice self-love and self-compassion, that is when people, events, and circumstances no longer define you. You instead begin to define yourself.
Given this, it is helpful to acknowledge and recognize that you no longer need to please other people. Other people have their own opinions, and they have their own life. You also have your own opinions and your own life. No matter what people do or say and irrespective of what happens outside of you, you alone control your own perspective and attitude.
You, hold the power to respond to events and circumstances of your life based on your internal sources, resources, and on your resourcefulness, which are all a reflection of your true value.
It is important to recognize your true value regardless of your earnings, career, possessions, social rank, relationship status, etc. Your true value is no longer measured by these things. It comes from an internal measure that you have set for yourself. That is where true personal power comes from.
Step 5: The Responsibility Stage
The final step in this process involves taking full responsibility for your life, for your circumstances, and for your problems. Now it is worth mentioning that I am not saying that you should be a martyr. What I am saying is to taking full responsibility for everything that happens to you is about owning your contribution to where you are without giving away your personal power.
To take responsibility means to acknowledge that YOU have the personal power to change and influence the events and circumstances of YOUR life.
When you have a high level of self-worth, you are no longer relying on other people to make decisions for you. You alone hold yourself accountable, and you alone hold the power to make positive changes in your life.
You now hold the power…
Today is not a good day
- Because you fully trust yourself and trust your ability to make decisions that put you in the driver’s seat of your life.
- Furthermore, you are no longer are you swayed by the changing winds.
- You are steady and self-assured.
- You understand who you are, you accept yourself fully, love yourself unconditionally, and recognize that you are the captain of your ship.
- Regardless of the circumstances happening around you and in spite of the rumours of mutiny, you are focused and able to stay the course.
- You make adjustments on the fly, and you take charge of your ship.
- You are not rattled or phased by external circumstances.
- Yes, the outside world is a crazy mess, however, your inner world is as steady as can be; and that is what makes all the difference.
These are the things that keep you safe and it is all because you took the time to build your self-worth.
Did you gain value from this article? Is it important that you know and understand this topic? Leave a comment below I would love to hear from you.🙂
I have Coached Over 200 Career Transitions — Here is A Routine That Helps People Bounce Back Faster
Losing your job takes a serious toll on your confidence and stirs up all kinds of unpleasant emotions.
Realistically though, it is likely that we’re going to face some kind of job loss or significant job change at one point or another in our careers. Sometimes this change reaches far beyond the scope of our individual control and comes as a surprise to us. The best we can do is be prepared to manage this adversity and take some time to focus on ourselves. I’ve worked through over 200 career transitions over the years – including a couple of my own (most have been my clients’). Self-care is critical to successfully getting through this time. Here are five ways I practiced self-care after I was laid off — and I think you should try this routine, too
Losing your job can often be a big shock to your system. Sometimes we know our organization is going through significant changes, but sometimes the change comes as a complete surprise. Whatever the case, when the change impacts you personally, it can really hurt and take a toll on your confidence.
Depending on who we are and how we react to things, we might become emotional as we react to the news. The best advice I can give here is to take a breath. If your employer is presenting you with a severance package, make sure you DO NOT sign anything in the heat of the moment. Take some time to review the severance package offer after you get over the initial shock factor that will inevitably happen.
Reach out to a friend or colleague that you trust and get their input. Lean on your support system and let your feelings out in this safe environment. You don’t want to be embarrassed by emotional, irrational behavior in front of your former employer. Save the insanity for close family and friends (lucky them).
For me, the pause was critical because getting laid off was a very emotional experience. Taking time to breathe allowed me to have a rational and professional discussion with my employer about severance.
I resolved the outstanding issues with my employer, A.S.A.P.
After the ‘pause’, it might still take you a few days to get your emotions back in check. Once you can get through thinking and discussing your new situation without bursting into tears or fuming in anger, set your sites on closing the loop on outstanding items with your employer.
For your own mental health, you’ve got to get the details resolved as quickly as possible. Having the details of a severance looming over you for days, weeks or months is simply exhausting. You owe it to yourself to get closure so you can move on.
In most cases, your employer should appreciate that this is an emotional situation and provide an appropriate deadline (a week or so) for you to get back to them on their offer of severance. If they don’t give you some time to get your act together, count your blessings that you no longer work for them.
So, you have done your due diligence in terms of reviewing the details and terms of the severance offer, now you need to respond to them. I always suggest having this conversation via email so everything is documented. Avoid the phone if you can it can muddy the waters. You also don’t know what might set off potential emotional outbursts. Make sure you get all of the details from your employer such as how and when the severance will be paid, what happens to your benefits, what happens to any sort of other company programs and any additional amounts owing. Get all the information that you can to minimize any need for follow up contact. You likely won’t want to talk to them again.
I didn’t try to find out why I was laid off.
I have heard people say time and time again that they need to understand why they have lost their job in order to move on. They want to know what they have done wrong, or how the employer decided that they should be the employee to exit.
The fact is, a lot of time, the reason that an employer provides a severance package for you is so that they don’t have to share this information with you. Quite frankly, it might even be none of your business, and part of some broader organizational plan.
For me, adopting an ‘I don’t need to know’ attitude was the key to self-care when I was laid off. What value is there in knowing the organization’s point of view, anyways? Would it really change the current situation? Probably not. If anything it would only serve to inflate your anger and frustration levels. So take time to make peace with the reality that you are out the door and see it as an opportunity rather than a set back.
I got into a routine.
I allowed myself some time to mourn the loss of my job. This is an important step many people seem to forget to do or chose not to do. Loosing a job is much like loosing a loved and the lose needs to be mourned. For me, this was the end of the longest-term relationship I had ever had. Grieving was important, but I set myself a deadline to be sad. I cried and moped, but only for a week. At the end of the week, I started into a routine.
It was summer and I wanted to take advantage of the time away from work and focus on the positives of being away from work. I got up every single morning and planned an outing with my little guy. Every day we were up and dressed. You’d be surprised how therapeutic getting up and going outside can be.
Getting into a new routine is critical to your career transition success. Part of establishing this routine was knowing what I would say when people asked ‘How’s work?’ I actually practiced my response so I could answer confidently without stumbling or feeling insecure.
I set an unemployment deadline.
While I only allowed myself a week to be sad about losing my job we all know the grieving process has no hard and fast deadline. The reality is that, sometimes, we have to work through the emotions of things , and that can take a while. While I wasn’t sitting at home and moping, I was still going through all the feelings of job loss. I wanted some time and space between that job and my next one. Since I was laid off in the summer, I set myself a deadline of autumn (fall) to get on a structured job hunt. Setting parameters and clear goals for myself were really key parts of my self-care and managing my overall mental health.
Job loss is hard. Period. There is no magic formula to work through the grieving process and there are no standard timelines. When it comes to self-care and job loss, you’ve got to take a moment to reflect what will work for you. Focus on those things that give you comfort, structure and a sense of purpose. It’s inside those things that you will find a transition process that is uniquely yours. On the other side of that transition is your future career success.
Career transition at senior level is difficult as there are only a few available opportunities and plenty of very tough competition. More and more senior managers and executives are using career coaches to gain competitive advantage. Many of the best business leaders engage executive coaches. Career coaching can help executives navigate career transition quickly and effectively. Engaging a career coach will substantially improve competitiveness, marketability and ultimately the success of your job search and long-term career.
If your strategy is to send out hundreds of copies of your Curriculum Vitae and hope for the best, you will quickly discover that this doesn’t work and is a futile use of your time. Even if you have the best LinkedIn profile, it is not a guarantee of success.
A good career coach will help you articulate your best attributes and highest skills for a prospective employer to notice. A career coach will help you develop an effective job search strategy to identify the best target companies and secure your ideal position.
It can significantly reduce the time it takes to find your ideal position by helping you develop a comprehensive job search strategy. Many people including senior manager and executives find it difficult to articulate the value they can bring to an organisation and as a result how to pitch themselves effectively feels awkward. Many are also unsure what exactly they are looking for in terms of both position and type of company and this can be a significant disadvantage. If your vision is not clear, then you cannot develop an effective strategy to achieve it.
Get help to create a Vision. Vision guides you! In simple terms, if you are going on a business trip or holiday, you would not arrive at the airport without knowing what your destination is. Your destination guides your choice of airline and ultimately which terminal to arrive at. Your career transition journey is no different. If you don’t know where you are going to how will you know when you get there?
A career coach can help you create an impactful Curriculum Vitae (CV) / Resume and LinkedIn profile. Many people forget that the purpose of a CV / Resume is to get the interview and not the job, and as such this document must be carefully constructed to articulate just enough information to create interest and impact and encourage an employer or recruiter to reach out. BUT…. not too much information! At Renata Career Coach we sometimes see CV’s / Resumes that lack impact, are poorly written and in many cases are simply a cut and paste of a job description with little attention given to achievements. Remember that the attention given to each CV / Resume by a recruiter or potential employer is very short so making an impact quickly is essential!
Develop your networking skills. Some experts say that 70% of people ended up in their current position thanks to networking. Others say it’s more like 80-85%. Which ever statistic you believe what is clear this is substantial and as such incorporating a comprehensive networking strategy into your job search strategy is one of the most important actions you can. Effective networking provides a focused way to talk to people about your job search and can help you obtain leads, referrals, advice, information, support and most importantly uncover hidden promotion job opportunities. A good career coach will help you review various opportunities, networking events, existing contacts, developing new contacts and how to prioritise those that could generate the best results.
Preparation for interview and the overall assessment and selection process. Most organisations now have comprehensive recruitment and selection processes consisting not only of competency-based interviews, but also psychometric assessments as well as situation-based presentations. Having someone help you prepare for this puts you at a distinct advantage versus your competition. In our career coaching practice, we help you identify and segment your achievements across your entire career and then help you articulate them in a structured and impactful format. This process alone greatly assists Executives in interview preparation therefore it can also help you. Remember …. 90% preparation = 10% perspiration. 10% preparation = 90% perspiration!
A good career coach will hold you accountable for the goals you have set, offer valuable advice and expertise, and help you acquire different perspectives. Inevitability, there will be setbacks throughout your job search journey and your coach will be there to pick you up and encourage you to keep focussed and face your next challenge with renewed confidence and enthusiasm.
On-boarding into your new position. Depending on the terms and duration of engagement, some career coaches provide on-boarding coaching. The first six months of any position can be critical for both the organisation and the new appointee. On the one hand the hiring organisation will need to see evidence of added value from you. On the other hand you will need to feel that you have made the right career decision.
Various sources of research have shown that the average executive failure rate within the first 18 months is approximately 40%! A career coach can help with embedding and securing the success of the new relationship and provide a confidential environment to discuss goals, objectives and any potential issues that may arise.
In conclusion, you must remember that the role of a coach is to facilitate you to acquire different perspectives to get more out of work and life. The true value of the coaching process is gained from the work you put in between sessions.
At Renata Career Coaching we provide 1-2-1 coaching for people who are in career transition or planning to change jobs. We tailor a structured programme appropriate for the needs of each individual which results in a professional and effective job search campaign and improved confidence.
Our career coaching service can include:
- Skills and competency assessment
- Curriculum Vitae / Resume preparation
- Development of a Comprehensive Achievements Profile Document
- Development of a Job Search Marketing Plan
- Effective networking
- Engaging effectively with Executive Search Consultants
- Interview training
For those people looking for an improved alternative to the traditional outplacement program, our Career Coaching programme provides unique and highly customised support on how to conduct a professional job search campaign. Ideal Careers Happen by Design let us at Renata Career Coaching help you find the ideal career that suits you
For a free no-obligation consultation please contact our office via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Promotions come with several changes many employees don’t consider until they’re in their new role.
Every year when companies schedule their annual performance reviews, there are discussions about promotions. Promotions come with several changes many employees don’t consider until they’re in their new role. In my work with CEOs, one of the most common and disturbing trends in today’s workforce is the attitude of entitlement.
Employers and employees perpetuate an attitude of entitlement. Employers want to demonstrate their loyalty, and often one of the most common ways to do this is to promote an employee that has been with the company for a long time. While well-meaning, this often results in the activation of “The Peter Principle” in which companies promote employees to the highest levels of incompetence.
This ultimately leads to termination, and initiates a painfully slow unravelling of an employee’s confidence, engagement, and ability to perform.
Employees in turn perpetuate an attitude of entitlement, by getting themselves into a corner that has no escape, by telling themselves, “I deserve a promotion.” They allow their egos to drive their career advancement. They are often drawn to the idea of a higher-ranking title and a higher rung on the career ladder.
The Fallout of Unwarranted Promotions
Promotions come with significant changes that both employers and employees overlook until it’s too late, and staff have been moved around.
Two current clients are dealing with the fallout of promotions that should have never been granted and promises that should have never been made. We’re working diligently to:
- minimize/contain further damage,
- shift the culture from high entitlement/low accountability to low entitlement/high accountability, and
- save a valuable, loyal, long-term employee with vital institutional knowledge from walking out the door.
Changes That Accompany Promotions
Promotions are not just about rewarding loyalty, and moving employees up a ladder. To set up everyone for success, employees must think about the following criteria prior to accepting a promotion position:
New job requirements
Do YOU (the employee) pass the “GWC Test?”
Do you Get it: Do they truly understand their role, the culture, the processes and systems, the pace of the organization, and how all of these elements come together to form a well-oiled machine?
Do you Want it: Do they genuinely like their job? Do they believe in what they are doing? Are they excited about coming to work to see the progress that is occurring? Do they want to use their experience, talents, and ideas to further the organization?
Do you have the Capacity to do it? Capacity is a multi-pronged word. It applies to mental, physical, emotional, spiritual (in some cases), and intellectual capacity, as well as having the capacity of time to do a job well.
Integrating the demands of the new position into your personal life
It’s likely that the new position will require additional travel either locally and or Internationally and very possibly longer hours. Employees must consider this carefully. They should also have these conversations with their “significant other” who may need to pick up the slack in their absence.
Giving up responsibilities you really enjoy
Promotions often involve movement from a hands-on practitioner role to a management/supervisory role that takes employees out of the trenches where they are doing what they love. Leaving behind the work they love doing may sound glamorous initially however, not doing what you love doing permanently can be a source of significant stress and unhappiness.
Learning tasks and responsibilities you may not enjoy
Conversely, you will likely have to become knowledgeable in areas you may not have naturally pursued. This is common when companies promote rock-star sales employees to a sales leadership position. They move from being in the field responsible for themselves, to being in a corner office responsible for others. Being a team leader may not have been something you would ordinarily have wanted to do however the promotion position requires that you manage a team. Now you have to learn how to do that.
Changing the dynamics of office friendships
This is one of the most surprising and difficult challenges that accompany promotions.
With any promotion comes a very real change in dynamics and relationships with colleagues. Where once you were able to sit and bemoan manager with your colleagues because you were one-of-team(us) and shared many of the same frustrations – that is now different. You are one of “them”. The guys you once believed didn’t “understand” or was “divorced from what was happening on the floor.” You may have developed good friendships along the way and now that you have moved up the ladder the line has to be drawn in the sand. As a member of the management team, you may well be privy to many sensitive and confidential conversations about your friends that you will not be able to share. Be sure you are willing to establish the boundary and change the dynamics of your friendships? This is a question only the employee can answer for themselves.
Promoting Strategically and Effectively
Ambitious employees can do many things to set themselves up for successful promotions, including:
- Leading or engaging in initiatives outside of their traditional roles
- Being coach-able and open to feedback
- Mentoring others
- Delivering on what is expected of them and being known as someone reliable
- Engaging in professional development and sharing this knowledge with others
Employers must think about career trajectories and organizational impact far in advance of scheduled performance reviews. Consider why you are offering the promotion- Is it a loyalty decision? Is it a competency based decision – remember the higher up the ladder you go these less technical skill is needed and the more strategic skills ( e.g. soft skills- people skills, negotiation skills) are required.
Perhaps an employee is a good promotion candidate, but requires some coaching and training to step into the new role. This training is often not about how well the person can do the job – because lets face it; the reason the promotion discussion is even on the table is because the person has already proved their technical competence. So what else does the person need to be set up for success? These steps must be executed in advance of the promotion so that business proceeds with minimal disruption..
Unsuccessful promotions leave a trail of disappointment, broken trust, and failed executions. These can also be a costly exercise both financially and reputation-wise for the company.
When thoughtfully executed, however, successful promotions yield tremendous benefits for everyone involved, empower the company to attract & retain great talent, and propel and promote continued growth.