Tag Archives for " confidence "

Woman with cluttered brain
Jan 23

Clear mental clutter to gain career clarity

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Career development , Creativity , Motivation

Many of us tackle some clutter clearing from time to time, and often this is about getting rid of unwanted physical “stuff”.

But what about mental clutter? This could include outdated assumptions or ideas that could that be getting in the way of making beneficial changes or stepping up a level in your career or business.

I’ve recently carried out a clutter clear before moving into a new home office space. Getting rid of redundant papers, sorting out my files and disposing of some old boxes (including baby slings last used in 2009!).

Clearing outdated physical clutter set me thinking about the internal clutter we also hang onto for too long. Are any of these things clogging up your mental shelf space?

Redundant qualifications

It can be difficult to let go of hard-won qualifications. If you took a law degree for example, does that mean you always need to work in the legal field? Of course not, but sometimes it’s hard to let go of a past achievement in order to follow a career path that is right for us now.


It’s so tempting to judge ourselves against our peers or even some external imagined standards. We may metaphorically beat ourselves up for not reaching a certain level in our career by a certain age. Or compare ourselves against other people. But everyone’s life path is different, and some of the most interesting and accomplished people didn’t find their vocation until quite late. The bestselling writer Mary Wesley published her first adult novel at the age of 71.

Too many ideas

Ideas flowing Making a clear decision about a career, or a business niche, can be scary, because it means letting go of all the other ideas of things we “could” do. It means closing down possibilities, at least for now. In career or business planning, there is a time for generating lots of ideas and possibilities, and this can be valuable. But to make things happen you have to take action. And to take action means making a decision. And making a positive decision to follow one path means letting go of another direction, at least for a while.

I say for a while, because it is perfectly possible to build a successful portfolio career with different strands and income streams. But there is a danger in trying to do everything all at once, and power in making a decision and staying focused on one thing for a while, to give it a chance.


Perfectionism can hold you back. Trying something new involves risk, whether that’s going for a promotion or starting a business. You will make mistakes, and that can be painful. If perfectionism is one of your traits, take some time to work out what it’s costing you. Wanting to do a great job, and putting in the graft is well worth it. But expecting perfect results when you do something for the fist time can set yourself up for disappointment and a sense of failure.

In his book The Chimp Paradox, Dr Steve Peters suggests that if you set your bar for success as “doing your best”, then this is always achievable. You may not do something brilliantly first time, but you can always gain satisfaction if you know that you gave it your best shot and did the best you could at the time.

Outdated dreams and visions

Creating a vision of where you want to go to in business or life is valuable and important. It can give you a sense of direction, a compass to navigate the choices and opportunities that come your way. But we change and what matters to us can change. If you made a decision some time ago to follow a certain direction, it may be time to check in and make some adjustments. And be mindful of differentiating between a setback along the way, and a true change of heart.

Find a listening ear

If your mind feels cluttered with ideas, concerns or judgements, then it can be invaluable to speak to someone. A chat with a friend can help clear the mental cobwebs. And do think seriously about working with a coach too. A few sessions with a good coach can help to shift outdated thinking, and clear space for fresh new ideas to come in.

And if you would like some help, email me to request a free telephone consultation.

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit

Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.

Jan 31

Are you an imposter?

By Felicity Dwyer | Career development

Do you ever feel that you’re not as competent as other people seem to think you are? That you’re going to be “found out”?  This feeling is quite common and is sometimes referred to as Imposter Syndrome.

Last year I attended a conference about inspiring women in business. As you would expect from this type of event, it included talks by business women who were undoubtedly successful. This included a talk by a massively impressive 29 year old CEO. Yet two of the speakers expressly talked about this “imposter” feeling, and they had clearly chosen to do so in the hope that it would help other women in the room.

And it’s not just women. I remember working with a man on this issue, quite early on in my coaching career. And in my own field of training and coaching I know the feeling of coming home from a training course that has received excellent feedback, yet focusing on the one slightly less positive comment.

If this resonates with you on some level, then what can you do about it? Here are some ideas that can help you build up your inner confidence, so it matches the outer.

Keep a record of strengths and achievements

Build up a foundation of belief in your own skills and strengths.  If you receive some positive feedback – write it down.  To kickstart the process of recording positive feedback, take a paper or online notebook, or open up a document, and write down everything that you are good at.  Think back to all the comments you have received in recent months. Go back over positive emails or messages and gather them in one place.

And record your achievements too, big or small, whether or not anyone else acknowledged them. If you know you did a good job, recognise and note it. As you do this you might feel some “yes buts” creeping in…  “Yes, it was a successful meeting but that’s because everyone else was so involved …”  (forgetting that it might have been because you planned and chaired the meeting so well).

We sometimes overlook our strengths because they may feel easy or effortless.  I now find it easy to facilitate a meeting, because it’s a strength. It’s something that I’ve learned to do, and it’s only when I notice that not everyone can do it so smoothly, that I realise it’s a strength and not a given.

This exercise of writing down strengths and achievement is well worth doing.  And then when imposter syndrome strikes and your confidence wobbles, go back and read what has been said.

See mistakes as part of learning

If you do make a mess of something, that doesn’t mean that you are incompetent as a person. It means that you have something to learn, and by recognising that, you can talk steps to change it.

Stanford University psychologist Carole Dweck has researched the differences between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. If we have a fixed mindset, we assume that our intelligence and personality are hard to change.  If we have a growth mindset, we believe that we can change significantly throughout our lives.

If we tend towards a growth mindset, we are more likely to enjoys challenges that stretch and develop us, and view mistakes as an opportunity to learn, rather than confirmation that we are lacking. So a step towards greater confidence is developing the ability to genuinely see our mistakes as a part of learning and growing, and believe that we can change as a result.

Notice and let go of thoughts

I love the quote: “don’t compare your insides with someone else’s outsides”.  Other people see how you speak and behave, but they don’t know about the doubts that might be going through your head. And we all have doubts at some point in our careers. There is a time and space where it is appropriate to share these thoughts and feelings, with a friend, a coach or a supportive line manager. But in professional situations, we do need to learn how to manage them and not let them get in the way.

A thought that you are “not good enough” is just that, a thought. It’s not true unless you are trying to perform a job that is clearly outside your capability or skillset, which is something different. I’ve written before about meditation, and a daily mediatation practice can help you recognise that during the course of the day many thoughts pass through your mind, and you can learn to get better at noticing them, and letting them go.

Measure success by doing your best

In The Chimp Paradox, consultant psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters has some interesting things to say about confidence and success. “If you measure success in life by effort and doing your best, then it is always in your hands to succeed and be proud of yourself.”   So if you prepare well for a meeting and give it your full attention, that can count as a success, even if the outcome isn’t quite as you would have wished.  And if you identify one thing you can do better next time, then this is useful learning.

Need a boost of confidence?

Confidence is an area I can help with through my coaching service. If you feel a lack of confidence is holding you back in your career or business, then why not book in a free consultation call and find out more.

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit

Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.

Rhian and her work
Jun 24

I’ve always wanted to paint, but…

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Creativity , Motivation

Is there an interest, calling or career that you’ve always wanted to explore or rediscover? Maybe a path not taken or a childhood interest neglected? Rhian John’s experience is one of an early passion for painting, revived in mid-life, and which has become a successful business.

Taking the sensible career option

Rhian loved art at school, but like many people, she took what seemed a “sensible” route into the world of work. She took a graphic design degree, and spent 25 years as a graphic designer before picking up a paintbrush again.

That was in 2014 and since then Rhian has attracted a growing interest in her paintings, with almost 8,000 Facebook followers and a recent exhibition at the Theatre Royal in Winchester.

Meeting Rhian at her lovely light and art-filled home near Winchester, she told me that she and her sister were both artistic as children.

After school she took an Art Foundation course, but didn’t think pursuing her love of Fine Art was a sensible career move. So she took a design degree and worked in graphic design for 25 years. “I wouldn’t have known then where to even start to market myself as a painter.”

The love of art never left her, “ I can’t walk past a gallery without going in to see what people do.” But it was only when her son did his A Level art, that Rhian reached a turning point.

Heeding a call

Watching her son, Rhian felt she couldn’t hold back any more, she felt an incredibly strong urge to get the paints out: “It truly just happened. I literally saw my son paint and said “I can’t stand it any more, I’ve got to paint”.

“March 2014 was the first time I picked up my paintbrush. I didn’t know if my paintings were any good, but I put a couple up on Facebook and people bought them. I think if you can do something, you sort of assume everyone is able to do it.”

She started off by digging out a photograph that she’d taken at Hillier Gardens, near Romsey, and painting from that. Initially she worked with acrylics on paper and then moved on as her confidence grew:  “I remember the first time I bought a canvas. I felt very grown up.”

Overcoming fear of failure

The reason why it took Rhian so long to start painting again is one that many of us will relate to. As she explains: “The fear of “what if I can’t do it any more” is part of why I didn’t do it properly. There’s always that fear – if you don’t give it a go, then you haven’t failed. And it’s such a silly reason. As with anything, you improve as you go along.”

Different forms of creativity

Rhian still runs her graphic design company. As she works from home, this offers the flexibility to run the two businesses side by side. And one effect of starting to paint is that she is now enjoying her design work more.

Juggling two business may sound daunting, but Rhian has found that she actually manages her time better now, so she can fit it all in. At the end of the day at her computer, she feels that if she can complete the job then that will free her up to paint the next day. “If I’m nearly at the end of a design job it spurs me on.”

Both design and painting are creative, but in a different way. Design is computer based and there are logical reasons why you would choose certain colours for certain brand values, whereas painting is a very personal thing: “from the heart”

Rhian’s uplifting paintings of nature, flowers and animals are bursting with vibrant shades. “I do just love colour. I take a lot of photographs. I love being outside, love the beach, flowers, colour. I paint what I like. I didn’t do it to make money, but I’ve been incredibly fortunate.”

“Just do it”

paint and brushesRhian receives many messages from people saying “I’d love to start painting again, but…” And her response: ” I would say “I was you. You don’t have to do it as a career.  But just do it!”

“It doesn’t matter what you produce. Art and craft is a great outlet for creativity, and relieves stress. Because you’re concentrating, other things go out of your head.”

So what next? “I don’t want to put massive pressure on myself.  What has happened in the last year has been absolutely fantastic. I will go with the flow, see where it takes me.”

Rhian is participating in Hampshire Open Studios at the end of August. And you can view and buy her paintings and prints online at www.rhianjohn.com

Have you rediscovered a passion in mid-life? If so please share your story in the comments box below, I’d love to hear from you.

Personal brand, woman in pink jacket
Apr 30

What does your personal brand say about you?

By Felicity Dwyer | Career development , Motivation

When you buy a professionally marketed product or service, you are interacting with a brand identity. Someone has taken time and trouble to work out whom they want to appeal to, and how to get their message across.

You can draw on similar ideas in presenting yourself professionally. This is sometimes referred to as personal branding. It is about taking a considered look at who you are, how you want to be seen, and how you can communicate this.  If you get this right, your external appearance and manner represents who you are on the inside – and who you are at your best. Looking good will not only help you feel confident, but will inspire confidence in you.

Your “brand values”

When marketers develop a company brand, they take into account the brand values, and you can do the same for yourself. What personal values and qualities do you wish to communicate? What effect will this have on your customers or clients? For example, a solicitor will always want to look smart and professional to inspire confidence, but this can be expressed in different ways. A family lawyer may choose a more relaxed way of dressing than a corporate lawyer, for example a smart dress rather than a formal business suit.

In my business, I would like to be seen as approachable, yet professional and a smart casual way of dressing takes me happily through most working situations.

You may prefer a tailored look, or a quirky look. Whatever feels like the real “you”. Even if your workplace is quite conventional, you may still be able to inject a bit of personality into your outfit with a tie, scarf or piece of jewellery.

Presenting yourself successfully

If you don’t feel 100% confident in the way you dress, it can be worth investing in a colour and style consultation. A good colour and style consultant will offer advice based around your lifestyle, and not try to impose a look on you. You may also find you save money by only buying clothes that really suit you.

It’s not just the visual element that makes up your personal brand. The way you walk, speak and present yourself is part of this. Simple tips to help inspire confidence include: taking a breath before you speak, paying attention to your posture, and being careful not to put yourself down when you speak.

Nurse in uniformYou may be presenting a different aspect of your personality at work to the one you share with friends and family, and therefore you may choose to dress differently. Wearing a uniform is an extreme example of this. A uniform is ultimately about stepping into a role and appropriate in some jobs. And your company culture may be reflected in an unofficial “uniform” worn by most people.

Dressing to suit your workplace culture is normal, but if your workplace image feels really alien or “not you”, then it may be that you would be happier in a different environment. So if you don’t feel comfortable in formal attire or a uniform, that in itself might say something about the kind of place where you want to work.

Ultimately, you can’t NOT send out messages about yourself from the way you dress, and from your posture and voice. A personal branding approach helps you to be more confident that the image you present is the right one for you.