What’s Confidence Got to Do With It?

February 4, 2011 | blog,Career,career change | Tags: , , , , , | Written by: admin

Question for you: Are you confident?

About yourself? About your competencies? About your professional status? About your career in general? About switching careers? About your ability to make changes when needed and do what you truly love?

I watched a video by Marie Forleo last week about this topic. (She focuses on women business owners so you may not know her. But the same principle applies to career professionals.)

Marie said that confidence is overrated, and I agree.


Because, if you let it get in the way of moving forward, you’ll never get anywhere.

It’s nice to be confident and build your confidence up when you feel insecure, and this is something that usually happens when I work one-on-one with my clients – but it’s true…if you’re waiting until you’re 100% confident to take that next move to take that next move, you won’t go anywhere.

Confidence is a great good in America; it’s often seen as a must-have to succeed at anything. Of course, how you project yourself influences how others see you, so there is definitely a psychological component there.

However, it’s better to take a shot at something with the possibility of succeeding, than just day dreaming about it because you’re not 100% sure of the outcome.

Guess what – you never will be! And even confidence will not guarantee success.

I think that especially for us, Renaissance Personalities, it is important to realize that we’ll most likely feel some apprehension whenever we embark on something new. We spend a great deal of our lives outside our comfort zone. Not because we want to, but because staying put in something boring or something we don’t enjoy is just not an option.

So please realize that it’s ok and normal to feel hesitant and insecure about your next endeavor, or about aspects of your job or a new project.

I do.

It’s about keeping it moving.

So, as much as I like to help my clients boost their confidence and make them feel better – which is still very valuable – I agree that a warning is in place: don’t confuse not feeling 100% confident about your next step with some sort of “sign” that you shouldn’t move forward with your plans or projects.

In fact; usually, it’s the other way around. You push yourself out of your comfort zone and watch your confidence grow as you take steps toward your goal. Often succeeding, don’t you?

My tips for taking the next step anyway, even when you don’t feel 100% confident:

  • Get some real perspective; what is the absolute worst that could happen? Could you die? (If yes – forego the above advice.  ;  )
  • What is the “cost” of not doing what you want to do? Is it …  staying stuck in a field you hate, forever wondering what could have been, taking up mental space by obsessing how you’ll do it once….?
  • Ask yourself what you want to look back on – 5 years from now…10 years from now. Truth is – what may seem so awkward or scary now, you tend to forget the second these feelings vanish. Looking back, you typically remember the things you did, the things you tried, and the things you wanted to do but never did. Especially those. So try to keep that list as short as possible.
  • Talk to people who have gone before you, and ask them what it was like. Was it what they expected? Were they confident about their move beforehand?

Do you have additional tips to get past that “lack of confidence block?” Post them as a comment and we’ll compare notes!


  1. It’s fascinating to look at your and Marie’s takes on this – you both approached it from a totally different angle than I did. I took it from the angle of research vs action: http://www.multipassionateproductivity.com/blog/2010/11/how-to-know-when-to-stop-reading-and-start-doing/

    My basic idea was that you want to have some foundation when venturing into a new area, but you want to avoid using your research as an excuse to postpone action. I suggested using a deadline, talking to people in the field to compile a list of basic resources to go through before taking action, and combining action with research to move forward deliberately.

    I think perhaps I should revisit the topic in tomorrow’s post. :)

    Comment by Kirsten — February 9, 2011 @ 9:06 pm

  2. […] Ilona Vanderwolde from Career Branches chimed in with her own take, which you should go read now. […]

    Pingback by What to Do When You’re Convinced You’re Not Good Enough — February 10, 2011 @ 12:29 pm

  3. Thank you for posting these comments!

    It is nice to hear some words backing up the “just go for it” gut feeling to make start something rather than the million of .. what ifs.

    I am not saying that our business is not a huge risk or that we have not made a lot of plans before taking the leap.

    If I never try I will never know.



    Comment by Eleanore Hitchen — February 10, 2011 @ 6:06 pm

  4. Hi Eleanore,

    Thanks for posting!

    I agree with you…of course, research and due diligence and confidence are all great and often vital when venturing off into something new.

    But when these factors turn into “analysis paralysis,” just taking some steps can be very refreshing. And once you’re in motion, it’s easier to stay in action and keep going.

    Just curious: what business are you in?

    Comment by Ilona Vanderwoude — February 16, 2011 @ 8:27 pm

  5. Hi Ilona,

    I really like the idea of thinking about what’s the cost of not doing what I know I want to do. Sometimes in the moment, it’s easy to just go along with the status quo, to just keep doing what you’ve always been doing. But in order for our lives to change, we need to change ourselves.

    Teresa :-)

    Comment by Teresa Gonczy — February 18, 2011 @ 1:16 pm

  6. This was an excellent post. Well written with excellent ideas and tips.

    I would like to add to the list, listen only to your own voice.

    After doing all your research, after talking with others, get quiet and ask yourself the questions What is the worst that can happen? What is the cost? Then if the voice inside you (I call it the little voice) says do it, listen and do it. Not listening, never works well. We must realize we are far wiser than we think. So what if you fail? Failure won’t kill you, it will teach you lessons you need to learn about succeeding the next time. Regret on the other hand is very hard to live with.

    Comment by Caryn Webb — February 25, 2011 @ 3:07 pm

  7. Teresa, thanks for your comment.

    I agree; it’s always easier to keep the status quo. Change – especially “risky” change – tends to make us squirm. When you’re able to put things in perspective (what’s the cost of ‘not’ doing it…what’s the worst that could happen…) the action you’re thinking of taking starts to look a lot less scary.

    And yes; when you keep doing what you’ve always been doing, you should expect the same outcome…

    : )


    Comment by careerbranches — March 2, 2011 @ 3:57 pm

  8. Thanks Caryn!

    Great point: I call it intuition, but whatever you call it..you’re right. It’s usually spot on. It may take some practice listening to it and trusting it. But boy..does it come in handy!

    And I couldn’t agree more that regret is hard to live with! Better live and learn than wonder “what if…”


    Comment by careerbranches — March 2, 2011 @ 4:02 pm

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