Updated: Jun 23, 2020
For anyone that has suffered a mid-life crisis and lived to tell about it, you know how debilitating the feeling of hopelessness can be. You probably even asked yourself questions like, “What’s my purpose? Why am I here?” or “Is this really all there is to life?” If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.
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In May of 2017, I was in the beginning stage of my mid-life crisis. I took off a week from my corporate Marketing job to see what it would be like if I quit and became a stay-at-home Mom. Perhaps caring for my children 24/7 would help me find my purpose. I told my company I was going to the Bahamas and wouldn’t have any service, so not to expect responses from me. By completely unplugging, I would get a realistic view of being home with my kids. One of the first things I did on my “vacation” was to read the book In Her Power by Helene Lerner. In this blog, I'll explore her recommendations and offer additional context.
With a little more confidence, we can grow OUT of a mid-life crisis and INTO our purpose.
One chapter that really stood out to me was Chapter 5: Acting with Confidence. I was no stranger to experiencing Imposter Syndrome, which is one way a lack of confidence can manifest itself. Imposter Syndrome can be defined as the persistent inability to believe that one's success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one's own efforts or skills. Said more plainly, you constantly worry that everyone around you will wake up and suddenly realize you aren’t that good at (fill in the blank). However, there is hope. With a little more confidence, we can grow out of a mid-life crisis and into our purpose.
Here are 3 ways you can build self-confidence:
Don’t practice self-doubt – Surely constructive criticism and self-awareness about our inherent strengths and weaknesses can be beneficial to our growth. Knowing that I’m not great at Microsoft Excel and getting myself into a class to improve those skills is tremendously helpful to improving in that area. However, there is a fine line that we need to be careful not to cross into self-criticism. Constantly judging yourself can become destructive and, in some cases, a self-fulfilling prophecy. As I was reading Chapter 5, I took notes in the margins so I could make affirmations and express my thoughts on the topic in real time. I wrote, “There are enough people that want to knock me down – I don’t want or need to contribute.” Those are powerful words that I reflect on often. When I start to talk myself out of a job opportunity or writing my memoir, I go back to these words and find my confidence in them. Most of us have had similar experiences where we doubt our capabilities, the trick is to breathe through those moments and shut them down as quickly as you can. Helene recommends saying the following aloud, “These lies have no power over me.” What a great suggestion! I hope you’ll try it next time you’re feeling less than adequate.
Celebrate the milestones – Many women have a tendency to wait and celebrate when the final goal is reached. That may mean you go months, even years, without something to celebrate. Try changing your frequency and acknowledge accomplishments weekly. That’s right – weekly! Each of us has accomplished something in the past week. For example, I wrote two more chapters of my memoir this week. Perhaps you brushed up your resume, gained 50 followers, built a website for your new business, or hired an employee. No matter how big or small the accomplishment, it’s worth celebrating. With every milestone you’ll gain the confidence to keep going and reach your goals. Before you know it, you’ll have achieved your goal and maybe even surpassed it – thanks to your constant reinforcement of self-confidence along the way. Helene recommends you write your accomplishments down. Why not buy a beautiful journal to keep track of them in? It just might be the best $20 you’ll ever spend.
Fake it till you make it – We’re all familiar with this old adage, but why not try it on for size? When we need to show up in a different way, it can be uncomfortable at first. I remember when I was selected as Chief of Staff to the President of a billion-dollar business unit. I felt as though I was completely out of my league (of course I was in the beginning). I spent the first two months regretting taking the role. After speaking with HR about my concerns, they hired an executive coach for me. He worked with me weekly to hone my executive presence. I learned to act as if I had the right to interrupt the President and his staff when I had a critical deadline. I began to act like I was in control of the room and the agenda when I was running his staff meetings. Before long, I wasn’t acting – I was doing the role and doing it successfully. By learning to fake it, I gave myself the confidence to actually be it. It definitely takes some work, but in time this will become your new normal. So, what can you find to fake it till you make it?
Self-confidence at work can also translate to your personal life. Think about how your relationships and finances might be positively impacted when you make decisions more confidently. Eventually, you’ll be ready for any challenge that comes your way.
At the end of my "vacation," I decided to stay in my Marketing role for various reasons. However, I then had the confidence to look for a new role, at a different company, in a completely different industry. It was a huge risk, but one that I knew I could take confidently. These are just a few simple ways you can start to live a more confident life and achieve your true purpose. After all, we deserve it!