Increasing Your Confidence for Career Success

Is your career developing in the way that you want? Do you find that a lack of confidence is sometimes holding you back? If you are like me you may have had times when you hear a voice in your head saying “I will be confident in myself when … happens/ when I achieve … (fill in the blank with a career goal that is meaningful to you…).

When I was young I was shy, awkward and rarely spoke up. So much so that my former classmates would have laughed at the idea that I could become an entrepreneur and communication skills trainer or that I’d be brave enough to speak to a large audience. Yet, that is just what I have been able to achieve, having learned some lessons along the way.

So how can you build your own unshakable confidence and take your career to the next level? Here are some action steps that you can take:

Find your existing areas of skill and confidence

The most important step towards building confidence is to be aware of what you have already been successfully doing. 

The answers may range from a business-related skill to being a talented runner, singer or ballroom dancer. Write down any idea that comes to your mind because everything you’re good at counts. 

This will reveal that confidence is not absolute, because nobody is fully confident about everything in their lives. We feel confident about aspects we know we’re good at. Equally, we have struggles with a specific area that needs improvement.

However, you’ll notice that once you start working on a new skill, your confidence will grow with it. For example, I used to be extremely bad at speaking in public. In fact, on the occasion of my first business presentation, I totally forgot my script despite spending three days memorising it. My hands shook and I felt terrible! This experience shattered my confidence. However, after a couple of days I switched focus onto how poor my speaking skills were. Separating myself from my skill was crucial to getting clarity on what I could do about it. In my case I decided to join a Toastmasters’ public speaking club and got the supportive help I needed.  

Using affirmations for positive thoughts

Changing your thoughts is easier said than done. However, our thought patterns are no different to our muscles. Both are trainable. 

A great way to start reprogramming your mind is to repeat encouraging affirmations or statements before facing challenging situations. To find what particular affirmation will work best for you, go with the opposite of your negative thought. For example, replace “I’m petrified of being called on to answers questions after presenting to the Board”, with “I’m excited to share my opinion at a Board meeting!”. 

Give yourself time to practise your affirmations properly so that they sink in. Feel free to improvise and find wording that will work for you.

Changing your negative thoughts patterns with powerful questions

If you prefer a more analytical approach begin by answering the following questions. You’ll identify the fears behind your lack of confidence and learn how to transform your destructive thought patterns into constructive ones. 

  1. How can I describe the exact negative thoughts on this particular subject in only one sentence? 
  2. Is this thought 100% true? Is it a fact or is it my assumption?
  3. What proves that this negative thought is completely or partially false?
  4. If the event that what I most fear were to happen, how would it truly affect my life? What would I do (realistically, without exaggeration)?
  5. If my best friend or close colleague had this exact thought, what would I tell them?

These questions helped me through some difficult times for my business as well as elsewhere in my life. I hope they’ll be useful for you as well.

Small achievements should be celebrated

Remember to celebrate small achievements. It’s easy to forget that one unsuccessful event means little, and that true success is achieved by taking small but consistent steps towards the goal. So, if you’ve just failed at something, don’t hold onto the setbacks you’ve experience. The key to becoming better at anything is to shift your focus onto your progress over longer periods. 

So, in summary, confidence can be built up over time. This is done by questioning your negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones, by separating your self-confidence from your areas of struggle, and reminding yourself of every small success along the way.

These are practical steps for you to put into practice. I hope that you’ll use then to boost our confidence and take the next step in your awesome career. And remember your confidence will have a positive impact on all areas of your life.


Diana Robertson is a member of Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and Ireland. Members follow a structured educational programme to gain skills and confidence in public and impromptu speaking, chairing meetings and time management. To find your nearest club, visit