How to build confidence and improve your job search and your life

confidenceConfidence is a powerful state of mind that can help you succeed in your job search and beyond. True confidence means having enough faith in yourself and being able to accomplish what you set out to do most of the time.

People coming out of prison may lack confidence in themselves. But it’s possible to befriend your lack of self-worth and work on your confidence. And that will help you improve your chances of success. Changing long-held attitudes about yourself and your reactions to others is a big part of the process.

It’s important to remember that we are all a “work in progress.” And nobody is ever really “done” with evolving and changing. Nor are they free of things to work on. If you are patient with yourself, growth is more likely to occur.

Here are a few tips that will help you get there.

How to build confidence

Highlight your strengths. Make a list of your skills and things that you can do sufficiently well. Be proud of your accomplishments. It’s important to get to know any areas of your life that need development and begin working on them.

For many of us, quite a few of the items on this list are works in progress. And that’s OK. Any improvement is positive and worth welcoming.

Practice positive self-talk. Some people refer to this as affirmation. But whatever it’s called, it’s a powerful tool. Instead of telling yourself you can’t do something, say, “I think I can. I think I can. I know I can. I will.”

Determine your weaknesses. For several days write down situations where you feel a sense of low self-confidence. Try to think why you have these negative thoughts. Then determine what you can do to improve in these areas. The most important thing is to not beat yourself up. And don’t overthink it.

Plan your actions. If you’re scheduled for a job interview, start preparing several days before. Study a list of potential questions you may be asked, and practice answering them. It might be helpful to have a friend ask you the questions and then critique your answers. Doing this preparation will give you the confidence that you will be able to handle the interview and won’t be nervous when the time arrives.

Don’t be afraid to try new things. Get out of your comfort zone. When you’re looking for a job try cold calling the hiring managers in the places you’d like to work. Talking directly to the person with the authority to hire you may make you nervous at first. But once you do it, you will gain a sense of confidence in your ability to communicate, and you may even get a job this way.

Don’t let mistakes get you down. We all make mistakes. But look at mistakes not as failures but as opportunities to learn and a chance to develop resilience.

Try a power pose. When you find yourself in a situation where you need a boost of confidence, like before a job interview, raise your hands above your head for two minutes as if you had just won a marathon.

Determine what needs to be improved. Think about your life and figure out what you can improve. Making improvements will instill confidence to become a better person.

Don’t take criticism personally. Instead receive what people have to say about you, and use the knowledge to learn how to improve your situation. And improvement can be as simple as letting it go and not spending time thinking about it.

Limit the time you spend on social media, or tune it out completely. Comparing your life to the lives described on social media may make you feel less than them and even depressed. In fact, many studies confirm this to be true. People often only put the good things that happen to them on their social media accounts. They don’t usually include the difficulties or negative challenges they face.

Choose a role model whose confidence will inspire you. This can be anyone in your life – a relative, a friend, a clerk at a store you shop at, the pastor of your church or someone else – who displays confidence that you can emulate. Study their behavior, and learn from it.

Tackle small projects. Begin by taking on small projects that you know you can succeed at doing. This will give you the confidence to move on to bigger and more serious endeavors.

Live what you believe. Carrying out your values in the way you live will give you the confidence to know that you are making a difference in the world, even if it’s just among your family and friends.

Choose supportive friends. Avoid people who are negative and quick to criticize. These people can be confidence killers. Instead, search out friends who are kind and support you in what you’re trying to do.

Learn public speaking. Joining a Toastmaster’s International group and practicing public speaking at their regular meetings can help you talk to people more confidently.

Volunteer. Volunteering for a nonprofit, whether it’s an animal shelter, a homeless shelter, a food bank or other cause, may give you new skills, help you make new friends and give you the confidence to know that you’re helping others.

Try something you haven’t done before. Explore a town near you. Ride the bus to the end of the line, and see where it leads. Sample a new flavor of ice cream. You can expand your horizons in small ways that will give you the confidence to take on bigger challenges.

Exercise regularly. Exercise can be anything from a brisk walk through your neighborhood to a swim at your local pool or a workout at the health club, Many studies confirm that those who exercise feel better about themselves and have more energy.

Practice mindfulness meditation. Meditation can help you become calm and centered and increase self-awareness and acceptance.

Remove those unwanted tattoos. If you have visible anti-social or gang-related tattoos you may want to get them taken off. Removing these remnants from a life you may no longer wish to lead will give you the confidence to start out on a new path.

Building confidence can take a lot of time and effort, but trying some of these steps one at a time will get you on the way to feeling better about yourself. And it can also set you apart.

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