When you’re promoted you feel you’re the king of the world. You worked your ass off. You deserved it, you deserved your new title, your hopefully hefty raise. Of course, you’d have deserved just any raise, right?!
Oh, the joy you felt over your promotion. The problem is that this feeling fades soon. Probably it’s not even a problem, as you should not define who you are based on your previous achievements. The real problem is that often your confidence fades and without it, it’ll be hard to progress further, or even just to feel fulfilled in your current role.
Let’s see from where your confidence comes from, how it helps you to progress then how it fades because of that progress. Finally, we see how you can regain your confidence.
Five sources of confidence
Let’s explore 5 essential sources of confidence and how not to let them dry up.
Get things done
Some people claim that in order to achieve something, you must be confident. These people are already confident, but they forget that it was not always the case.
Confidence doesn’t come out of the blue. That is called ego.
Confidence is the outcome of action. Get things done, no matter how small they are, but be consistent and you’ll build up your confidence fast.
Getting things done is often mentioned in relation to small tasks. If something would not take more than 2 minutes to complete, just do it, do it now. That’s one of the foundational rules of getting things done.
It also helps gain some confidence. Confidence that is needed to follow through with more complex tasks. Tasks that cannot simply be get done. Projects that require that you break them down into smaller chunks. Into pieces that will require you to work on them every day or so.
By doing so, by completing some big projects you had in mind, you’ll further boost your confidence.
Focus on your gains
If you want to improve something, you have to measure it. You cannot improve your finances if you don’t know in detail your financial situation. You cannot prepare well for an exam if you don’t know where your weaknesses are.
You must monitor your progress and use the insights to adjust your direction. But it’s not enough.
As Dan Sullivan, the world-class business coach and Dr. Benjamin Hardy organizational psychologist explained in their book The Gap And The Gain, you have to focus on how much you progressed, not on how far you are from your ideal.
You’ll always find people who are still further away from you and it feels daunting. You shouldn’t compare yourself to others. Compare yourself to your past self, focus on how long you came, how much you improved!
That’s a surefire way to boost your confidence!
Do something outside your work!
Sure, work is important, but your life is - hopefully - more than that. You might have a family, a hobby, a passion…
How does that relate to your career?
In many different ways, but let’s focus on confidence. Even if confidence in one area cannot be directly translated to confidence in another, still, it has an effect.
Life is a complex system. If you’re improving one area of your life, it will affect all the others.
Therefore, it’s important to do something outside of work that you enjoy, that you are good at, and that you can use as a source of inspiration, a source of confidence.
It can be raising your kid, making your home beautiful, doing some sports, baking. Whatever you truly care about!
Achieving results in that area will boost your confidence in every area of your life.
Visualize your success
Michael Phelps, one of the most successful swimmers ever - like other successful sportspeople - had a thorough pre-race routine. Part of it was closing his eyes and visualizing himself during the race. He saw himself from the outside, he saw himself swimming and winning.
It helped him to relax, to be less anxious and more confident. After all, winning just became something he already saw.
You don’t have to be a world-class swimmer to follow similar habits.
Before you start into a complex venture, close your eyes and visualize yourself succeeding at it. Don’t be shallow, focus on the details. It will both help you prepare, think about things you might have forgotten otherwise and it will also grow your confidence!
Confidence leads to more results
With the increased level of confidence you earned, you will reap many benefits in your life, including better performance, healthier relationships, openness to try new things and resilience.
First of all, it’s worth emphasizing that confidence is not a prerequisite of action, it’s a byproduct! By taking action, by performing well, you’ll gain confidence.
But by gaining confidence, you’ll perform even better, you’ll take more action. It’s an upward spiral. Or if you prefer, it’s like letting the flywheel turn on its own.
The first few actions, earning the first few bits of confidence is difficult, but once the momentum builds up, you’re becoming unstoppable.
Your confidence will also improve your relationships in two different ways.
First, you’ll stop comparing yourself to others, you’ll stop being jelaous, therefore you can be happier both for others’ successes and for your own as well.
Second, your confidence originates from your within, you don’t have to rely on others. If you feel that others just try to bring you down, they just try to hold you back, you’ll be able to walk away more easily.
Openness to try new things
When you are confident, when you believe in yourself, you feel free to try new things.
This openness will not just manifest itself at work, but in your personal life as well. Remember, the different parts of life constitute a system. If you improve one part, the rest will also improve.
A confident person is an open person. Open to think about new ideas, open to try himself in new circumstances.
Confidence will also make you more resilient. Imagine that you fail with one of your projects. Not just a little, but you fail hard.
If you had no confidence, it puts you down. Probably you were already down, so it just pushes you downward in the spiral.
But if you are confident, you know that you cannot fail. You either win or you learn. You’ll bounce back, you’ll be even more capable than before.
You might lose your confidence after a big win and it’s okay
Even if you drink from all the wells of confidence every morning, even if you enjoy all the benefits of being confident, sometimes you’ll lose your spirit. You’ll feel alone. You’ll be afraid. You won’t understand what just happened.
Promotion leads to incompetence
Don’t worry. You’re not alone.
This is a common feeling a bit after a promotion.
Think about how people get promoted.
You do a great job as a software developer and you might become a tech lead. Or an engineering manager.
You never learnt it. It will be difficult. You might even fail.
Most businesses promote people according to the Peter principle. People will be promoted to new positions - to positions that require a different skillset - until they will reach a position where they don’t perform well.
A part of your confidence came from successes that you achieved in your previous position. Those are gone. They are irrelevant.
You have less to rely on.
Promotions as acknowledgement are better
That is why I found a good practice that you have to perform in your new role for some time before you can officially be promoted. If you want to become a senior engineer, if you want to become a staff engineer, you have to perform tasks that a senior or a staff engineer would do.
I know that it can seem unjust to work in a higher position without the tile or the financial rewards, but it’s still beneficial not only for your employer in terms of better judgement but also for you to be a bit stressed about your promotion and more confident on how well you can perform.
The feeling of incompetence should not hurt your confidence
But if you scroll back to the section about how to gain more confidence, you’ll realize that most of the sources are still relevant to you.
You can still get small things done. Your activities outside your job are still there. You already gained a lot that you can focus on. And while probably following through big projects will still have to wait a bit, you can already visualize those successes.
Don’t let new circumstances make you feel incompetent, don’t let the new incompetence take away your confidence. You have already come far.
Regain your confidence
What can you do if despite what we discussed, you still lose your confidence after the promotion?
Accept you cannot know everything
First and foremost, you have to do a mental shift. You have to accept that you do not, you cannot know everything but you can always learn more.
You have to accept that you’ll meet less experienced people who can do things that you cannot do. You should not be afraid of them taking over your role, you deserved your promotion. Not because you know everything and everything better than others.
If you don’t do the mental shift, you’ll not focus on growing, you’ll not focus on getting better, but instead, you’ll spend most of your energy on defending your position, building a silo around yourself so that you feel less threatened by those who are better in some aspects of your job.
You don’t want that, do you?
Focus on your strengths
Instead, you have to focus on your own strengths and hone those skills further. You might lack some skills that you should improve, but in general, you’re better off if you actively seek out the help of more competent people. When you face a problem that goes out of your competency zone, you should not think about how to solve it, but rather about who you can solve it for you. Focus on who, not how as Benjamin P Hardy explained in his book.
It’ll deliberate you from wanting to know everything and let you focus on what you are great at. There is a reason why not every company produces everything, but only what they are good or even great at. In economics, it’s also called having a comparative advantage.
The best thing you can do is that you set your next big goal and start working towards them, little by little. Building up your confidence again also relies on other parts of your life.
And don’t let success and others’ knowledge discourage you. You don’t have to be better at everything.
Wouldn’t it be great to live your life in a way that always goes upwards?
It’s not a realistic expectation, after mountains, there are valleys. Yet, it doesn’t mean that whenever you go down into a valley, you should lose your confidence.
We saw that there are many sources of confidence, therefore if you feel less comfortable in one area of your life, you should not lose it all, we should still be able to gain force from the other areas.
Think about what activities make you more confident and how you can do more of those!
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