Whitney Houston had it right when she sang, “Learning to love yourself, It is the greatest love of all.” The reality is most of us are far too hard on ourselves. We say things in our heads that we would never dream of saying to someone else—and certainly not to someone we care about. Let’s be honest—if someone else told your sweetheart, best friend or child they were dumb / a fraud / lazy / unattractive <insert mean thought here>, I’m guessing you might get arrested shortly thereafter for taking matters into your own hands. But most of us live with this kind of bully living inside our own heads. It’s time to kick that b!tch out!
So how do you show yourself some love? No, I’m not talking about THAT kind of love (though you can do whatever you want in the privacy of your bedroom!). I’m talking about self-esteem and confidence. My company, Wet Cement, conducted a survey of 50 male executives to understand from their perspective, what held their female employees back from achieving their professional potential. The resounding number one barrier to career advancement was a lack of confidence.
It’s time to take aim at yourself with an arrow tipped with confidence, with one simple exercise: take stock of your achievements to create your own “Confidence Catalogue.” It is incredibly important not only for your own self-worth, but for your career. You can do this in just a few easy steps:
Remind Yourself of Your Inner Bad@ss:
1. Confidence in Childhood
Start with your childhood. Research shows most girls lose 30% of their confidence when they hit adolescence between the ages of 12-14. So it may be easier to think back to your younger days when you were at your most fearless. What did YOU do that you would be proud of... if your daughter or niece did the same thing? Audition for the school play? Win the school spelling bee? Choreograph and perform a solo to “Pac Man Fever?” (Did I just actually admit that?!)
2. Unstoppable Undergrad
When you were at college, how did you plan to change the world… and what did you do to make that happen? Perhaps you chose a school far from home without knowing a single person? Was it how you fearlessly delivered your thesis or a speech in front of your favorite professor or classmates? Did you study abroad and backpack around Europe without so much as a plan or knowledge of the local currency?
3. Courage in your Career
Think back over your entire professional journey—what are your accomplishments that stand out the most? If you focus on your last five years, what would you highlight as your most meaningful achievements in a job interview? How about in the last year—what did you do that even surprised yourself?
4. Bucket the List
Take a hard look at your list and you may find key themes that emerge. You may be a salesperson, but your ‘superpower’ is that you are creative. Group your top achievements into categories that help you define what makes you, YOU.
5. Make a Date with Yourself
No, you don't need to buy yourself flowers or spritz on your favorite perfume. What you DO need to do is create a recurring calendar entry for just five minutes every week to review your list of achievements, and watch how it gives you some extra pep in your step. If you have an important meeting or tough conversation coming up, whip out your Confidence Catalogue and read it beforehand for an emergency dose of self-esteem. And add to it EVERY week—if you haven’t accomplished anything in the previous week that is worthy enough to add to your Catalogue, re assess how you spend your time. Rather than allow your energy to be sucked up by unimportant tasks, make sure you use it wisely and focus on what matters to YOU.
And don’t let your perfectionist ways get in the way of the exercise--you don’t need 20 items in each bucket to get started. Even if you set aside just 10 minutes to start your Confidence Catalogue… that’s enough to put you on your path to loving yourself. And hey, if you want to set aside a few minutes to book yourself a massage and draw a bath too, more power to you--you deserve it!
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