How To Build The Confidence You Need For Your Career Change

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Image: Benjamin Davies

Want to do something different but don't have the confidence to break out of your current situation? Richard shares an alternative view on where confidence comes from, and how you can create it.

Here's a question for you:

If you don't feel confident now about your career change, where is the confidence you need going to come from?

I would wager that it's not going to be from the place you expect it.

Confidence isn't fixed; it's something you can create

Think about the words you use to talk about confidence in your day-to-day life. They're often tied to your identity.

"I'm not confident about this." or "I'm not a confident person."

But is that really true?

Entrepreneurship coach Dan Sullivan makes an important distinction:

"We tend to think of [confidence] as a personality trait or an emotional response, but my experience is that it isn't as passive or reactive as that. Real confidence is a capability, and when you know how to create that capability for yourself, you can have it in endless supply."

In other words, being confident isn't something you are; confidence is something you have.

And anything you can have, you can develop.

You can build your 'confidence capability' through four steps

Sullivan says there are four building blocks to confidence. These apply equally well to the confidence you need for your career change.

1. Commitment

Commitment is where everything starts.

It's also what will decide whether you're ultimately successful or unsuccessful in your shift.

It's the decision you make that "Whatever happens, I'm going to find and start doing work I love. It won't necessarily be easy, but I'm going to do it."

Commitment is what will keep you going during the moments when the people around you tell you they think you're crazy; when you don't even know what you really want to do (and wonder if you ever will); and when you come home from work with barely have enough energy to do the things you need to do, let alone anything on your career change.

2. Courage

When you're committed, it gives you the resolve to be courageous.

The answers to what you really want to do (or how to get there) don't lie in your current world. If they did, you'd have found them by now.

Instead, to find them, you need to venture out of your 'norm' – and this takes courage.

It takes courage to consider leaving a 'good' job (even if you hate it); it takes courage to tell your parents that you want to do something else, but you have no idea what that 'else' is; it takes courage to approach inspiring people and organisations you don't know when exploring other options.

3. Capability

When you're courageous, you develop new capabilities.

Remember what it was like to jump off the high diving board as a kid? The first time you did it, you might have stood on the board looking down at the water with your heart pounding before finally building up the courage to make the leap; the next time, it was easier; and then, the more you did it, the more it became something you could just 'do'.

Your capability is like a muscle. You can grow it, but you need to stretch yourself to do so.

This doesn't mean you have to take huge gambles – see our lean career change method for keeping risks to the minimum – but it does mean you need to be continually taking small, courageous steps.

4. Confidence

Finally, as you develop your capability, you also build your confidence.

Notice the order of these steps.

It's not "I need to be confident to take action," but more "I need to take action to be confident."

Not the way you might expect it to be.

As author David Storey says: "Self-confidence is simply the memory of success." – in other words, it's a learned skill.

That means, however much you feel you lack confidence right now, you can develop more of it by following the steps above.

How can you apply this principle in your career change? Leave a comment below.

Richard's picture

Richard Alderson is the founder of Careershifters. Disillusioned with corporate life, Richard quit his job in search of something more meaningful. He's since gone on to found / co-found multiple social businesses in India and the UK.