We all go through ups and downs at work, from top athletes to your next-door neighbor. Maintaining a high level of confidence at work can be difficult if you’re constantly listening to your inner critic, not feeling like you contribute and feeling like the odd one out. Establishing a repeatable process that works for YOU and which boosts confidence during those slumps is very important in order to keep you on track and feeling good.

Everyone has the key to getting out of a slump, they just have to learn how to use it. With that in mind, here is a 5-step process to unlocking your confidence at work.

  1. Use Post-it Notes to Define, Understand & Accept Your Self-Doubt

Writing things out on a small post-it note is an important first step as it can help you define, understand and accept your self-doubt.

When you define the symptoms of your feelings and understand what is causing your confidence to dip, it can help you identify where the lack of confidence is coming from. Once you write these out on your post-it notes, you can take some time to understand and accept the areas where your confidence may not be as high as you would like it to be and reflect on why. Going through this process of acceptance, where you admit a problem exists in the first place, can reduce the stress the problem causes.

  1. Leverage the Thermostat Analogy to Assess How to Improve Your Confidence

Our initial post-it note exercise enabled you to define and accept areas in which you can improve. Now the thermostat analogy will help you assess the current temperature/situation at work and allow you to set a plan in motion that gets you moving in the right direction. This step involves imagining where you would like to be and how you would like to feel—this is called your ‘desired temperature’.

The last step in the analogy is to walk toward the metaphorical thermostat and picture yourself turning the dial, ultimately closing the gap between where you were and where you want to be. The purpose of turning the dial is to think about what actions you can take in order to improve your situation. For example, is communication an area in which you feel very cold and weak? If so, maybe your ideal temperature is to have the confidence to approach someone at work whom you don’t know and start a conversation. The thermostat analogy is a powerful tool that can help close many gaps.

The next 3 steps are further exercises you can use to help get you there.

  1. Get Prepared

Getting your confidence back up at work is just as much of a mental hurdle as it is a physical one. As you take on new tasks at work, take a moment to prepare yourself for them physically and mentally.

Physically preparing yourself can include putting on a suit, wearing a freshly pressed outfit or making sure you feel comfortable in the shoes you chose. Mentally preparing yourself can include practicing what you want to say and to whom.
It can also include getting in the right frame of mind with positive affirmation such as coming up with 5 reasons you are valuable to your team and either writing it down or saying it in your head to improve your morale.

  1. Learn a Quick New Skill

Now that you’re mentally and physically prepared, another tactic that will help you reach your ‘desired temperature’ is to learn a quick new skill. This can be as simple as learning a new shortcut in Excel or as complex as learning new software. With a new skill under your belt, you can take on new tasks and feel confident talking about it with your colleagues. Both scenarios can help boost confidence as you continue to feel good about your achievement.

  1. Celebrate Your Small Wins

As each symptom on the post-it note is resolved and no longer a cause of low confidence, rip it off, crumple it up and go for a three pointer by tossing it in the trash. There’s gratification in crumpling up a problem or stressor and tossing it out because you’ve dealt with it, this reinforces the power behind small wins. As you leverage your new skill and practice positive self-talk, establish small wins for yourself at work that you know you can knock out of the ballpark. Achieving each one will remind yourself what you are capable of while adding to your inventory of positive memories that you can use the next time your confidence level starts to slump.

Congratulations! You have turned the thermostat up and closed the gap between where you once were and where you wanted to be.

Remember, we all have the master key to unlock confidence at work, we just have to practice using it.

Written by Farhan Quazi and Nikitha Ramesh

In 2019-2020, Deloitte delivered a significant pro bono project for ACCES to develop an Alumni Engagement Strategy which provides extended services and networking opportunities for ACCES graduates who are now successfully employed in Canada. This blog post article was one of the final contributions from the engagement. ACCES would like to extend our sincere thanks for their support as we move forward on this initiative.