• Eve Arnold

3 Tips to Increase Career Confidence

Steve Halama on Unsplash

Career confidence.

Social media is big business. It’s big, big business. The folks that realised that early on, well they’re somewhere sunning it in the South of France with all their riches. Over the last decade we have seen a dramatic shift in the types of businesses filing for IPOs. In tandem with that, we’ve seen a dramatic shift in the amount of time we spend on these platforms.

Accounts galore

Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat to name a few, then there’s YouTube, Tinder, WhatsApp, LinkedIn and the list continues. We have got a plethora of options to share our views online. Sometimes it can feel quite overwhelming to manage all 30+ social media accounts, especially if you run your business through producing content.

Let’s face it, over the next decade, perhaps the next 5 years, if you don’t run the majority of your business through social media and producing content, you’ll likely not have much of a business in the long run. It’s a hard pill to swallow and a lot of people are putting the pill in their mouth and hiding it under their tongue.

Whether we like it or not, social media is where the attention is.

Social Media

We’re not walking down the streets anymore looking at billboards (did we ever?). No one watches live TV anymore, it’s either watch it on catch up or flick over to Netflix — why? No ads. Most people hate ads. The randomisation of advertisements been thrown onto whatever TV programme because it has the most viewers is fleeting away.

Social media has opened the door for one phenomenon in the marketing world, direct to consume target marketing. I.e. if Sally who loves DIY has a profile about DIY and crafts with 70,000 followers, businesses want in. 70,000 followers doesn’t sound very many but the shift is coming. It’s not about the size of the audience isn’t about the percentage of them that buy.

So, how do we use social media to build confidence in our careers and not let it overwhelm us entirely?

1. Consume vs. Create

“Far better to live your own path imperfectly than to live another’s perfectly.” -Bhagavad Gita

Social media can become incredibly overwhelming and addictive when used poorly and it can wreck your career confidence. It can mean we waste hours upon hours of our time, spending our precious time feeling overwhelmed and unsuccessful. If we’re not careful, most days we find ourselves getting worked up about what we don’t have. We find ourselves wishing that we were drop shipping gurus, living on a sunny island, sipping Pina Coladas. Even if we hate the idea of buying and selling and we hate the taste of Pina Colada.

The trouble with constantly surrounding ourselves with what everyone else is doing is that we end up becoming jealous of the things that we don’t even want. It’s odd that you can find yourself being jealous of things you don’t want or aspire to have but you can. You become overwhelmed with surface level jealousy and it’s only till you actually ask yourself whether that’s the life you want to live, that you find the answer to be no.

Create Instead of Consuming

So one thing we can do is create instead of consuming. If want to gain some career confidence you can make a shift. Instead of spending hours on Instagram scrolling through the things that you don’t have and the houses you can’t afford. Spend time focusing on creating. Creating content that is personal to you. Create things that help you tell your story.

There are lots of ways we can create content. Create videos that tell the world how you see it. Put words on a page that articulate how your brain works. Voice your thoughts through podcasting. There are a million and one ways to tell the world your story. If you spend all your time listening to whatever else is saying you forget you’ve got a voice.

For every hour you spend consuming content, spend two hours creating it. This is a simple rule but in terms of career confidence it does many things. First of all it develops your own sense of perspective. When we are in a consuming mindset it’s easy for our thoughts to get lost and become consumed by everyone else’s opinions. It’s easy and it happens so often. Two hours of flicking through YouTube and you’ve convinced yourself you want to fitness coach and sell online courses. Even if you have zero interest in fitness.

It’s funny how the mind works.

Instead, when you are creating rather than consuming you are telling the world how you see it. Not consuming other people’s ideas. You give yourself time to develop your perspective and consequently create opinions that are totally yours. It gives you time to research and understand whether the stories we are being told are true or propaganda.

In terms of careers, it allows you develop a confidence in yourself and your mind, in that the way you see things to be true to you. You begin to have confidence in your story. The way you tell stories is hugely important. The more you practice you have telling your stories the more articulate, comprehensive and convincing you will be in work. Confidence breads confidence. If you are a good story teller because you’ve been practicing, you will find that people follow your words.

And in work, confidence is a huge part of success.

2. Unfollow the People That Add No Value – Career Confidence

“Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” Mark Ambrose

There is a famous quote said by someone presumably quite smart that goes something along the lines of… “you are the sum of your five closest friends.” Now I’m not sure how much I buy that but I do think that you end up becoming the content you consume. It happens to me all the time. If I’ve just spent ten minutes watching a YouTube video whereby the person in that video is massively productive. Then I would put money on the fact that me watching that video is always followed by me doing something productive. I’ll get spurred on by their productivity and start to apply it to my own life.

The same happens though if it’s something negative. For some reason, every now and then, I fall down a rabbit hole on YouTube and I find myself watching endless videos. When that happens, I end up feeling like a complete failure. I watch these people in their huge houses, with their incredible lives, successful businesses, swimming pools, cars. The list goes on. I find myself looking at their life and then looking at mine and feeling insignificant. I know they’ve worked hard and they probably don’t spend endless hours on YouTube being envious of other people but for some reason I fall down this trap consistently every now and then.

The problem

The trouble with subscribing to people’s channels, following people on Instagram / LinkedIn, wherever, is that you have a constant stream of what other people are doing. Which can be great if it spurs you on to be better. It can be a nightmare if it makes you envious and wallowing in self-pity.

Photo: Emilio Garcia/Unsplash

People

You need to surround yourself with people (over the internet) that will spur you on to do better. Yes you can gain career confidence via the world wide web. That you look up too and aspire to be like, not those who make you feel inferior and less of a human being. It’s hard to decipher between the two but there are a couple of things that help me.

  1. Understanding how you feel directly after consuming their content. Are you spurred on and motivated or deflated?

  2. Figuring out whether you are actually aspiring to be like these people or whether you are just aspiring to have what they have. I.e. do you admit the way they behave or just what they have.

  3. Monitoring your actions immediately after consuming their content. Are you productive or wallowing in self-pity?

One of the things that seems to work for me is experimenting a little. So watch some content and see how you feel. Rate your motivation out of ten. Then rate your self-worth out of ten. Do that over a period of a week and see which content spurs on the most. Which content is motivating you and which content is making you jealous and have a low self-esteem will be pretty obvious. After that, a social media clear out is in order. Get rid of the people that are making you feel crap and add in more of the motivational stuff.

But It’s Your Own Mindset Dedicating

Now, I’m presuming some people will read the above and think that you can control how you think. We can’t, in work, rid ourselves of those people who make us feel small and add in the people that motivate us. We have to have a sense of control over our own life.

Here’s my thoughts. We only have so much will power. With all the will in the world, after a busy day, when you are knackered, you will have little will power. So you flick on your phone and you are flooded by photos of sun-kissed bodies, huge homes, people living the high life. And you feel like crap. The architecture of your social media feeds is than important and controllable. One of the first things James Clear recommends in his book — Atomic Habits, is that we make habits easier. This is about making self-loathing harder and motivation and action easier.

And I do think in work you can surround yourself by people that motivate you. You might not have the luxury of ridding yourself of the people that make you feel small and rubbish but you can limit your time with them and drown them out with people that motivate you. Of course you can.

For your career confidence, this one is hugely important. Someone that consumes a load of content and constantly feels inferior isn’t going to make for a very confidence person. Make your social media feed something that inspires you and makes you happy, not something that brings you down and is a sure-fire way to make you feel 2 inches tall.

3. Limit the Social Media Exposure When You in Company – Increase Career Confidence

Lastly is that you time with people when you are in people’s presence. I’m not huge on social media so it’s an rarity for me to be on my phone when I’m in people’s presence. I’m also fairly introverted so it’s an rarity for me to be in people’s presence. Anyway, what I’m saying here is that social media is meant to connect people. It’s done a brilliant job of connecting the world and focusing people’s attention on what is important to them. I would love to know the amount of new friends that have been made over Facebook or how many people have reconnected after years over Instagram.

I bet the numbers are heart-warming.

However, don’t forget you have got family and friends that you are connected to in the moment. They are right in front of you wanting to know about your life and your day.

I still think there is no replacement for face-to-face interaction. So with that in mind, I think it’s a good rule to set. No social media when in the presence of other people. In terms of work, I mean I’m not sure anyone would dream of flicking through Instagram whilst in a 1–2–1 meeting, however, if that’s crossed your mind, try to avoid that.

Limit

Limiting your time on social media whilst other people’s company means you become a good listener. It means you will be attentive to what people are saying and have confidence you know what they are after. One of the biggest skills to master in work is whole-heartedly listening to what people are saying. You won’t be a great listener if you spend all your time distracted.

Social media is here to stay. Career confidence is incredibly important. The way we feel connected today is a taster for how connected we will feel in ten years time. Currently, companies spend 12% of their marketing budget on social media, when you consider where the attention is these days, that is set to grow exponentially. Social media is going to around for a long time. It’s a good idea we start to use it to our advantage.

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