Confidence wavering? Take a walk through your past.
There are moments in the course of your life where you start to doubt yourself and your abilities. Maybe someone is gaslighting you, maybe a job didn’t pan out, maybe you are just having a midlife or midcareer crisis. Whatever the case, your confidence can erode, leaving you feeling “less than.”
I recently found myself in such a state. But in the midst of this, I found a gift in a few storage boxes. I found a portfolio dating back to my early 20s into which I had painstakingly slipped feature stories and writing samples. I cracked open the binders full of association magazines I had edited, written, project managed and even typeset. Then I moved onto the folders of press clippings for the 25-plus books I’ve written or co-authored. Not to be forgotten are more recent clips from national magazines.
After sorting and culling my work life, I remembered that I am a rock star. I am powerful. And I’m certainly qualified for any gig I go after, because I have put in way more than 10,000 hours on my professional journey.
Now I urge you to do the same: Trace your career path from its earliest beginnings through today (while cleaning out your files). And don’t just look at your highlight reel; examine all the steps large and small that moved you forward.
Review your résumés. Look at old résumés and note what experience you once considered important to showcase.
Pull out your files. Have you kept work samples, check stubs, statements of work, job descriptions, notebooks or annual reviews? Read them and remember the challenging jobs you’ve had and how you mastered them.
Review your emails. Do you have a trove of old emails tucked away in a folder somewhere? Pull out your old devices, open up those emails and scan the unnecessary threads, the dysfunctional missives your boss shot off in all caps, and best of all, the thank you notes.
Praise be to you. Speaking of praise, remember all the clients and colleagues you’ve made happy throughout the years.
Don’t forget the extra credit. When I was first starting out as a writer and editor in Washington, D.C., I moonlighted as a stringer for a local newspaper and edited and designed the volunteer newsletter for National Cathedral. I did it all for free, knowing the experience was invaluable. Think about all the ways you colored outside the lines in your career.
Ideally, you’ll come away with a huge box of materials to shred, as well as renewed confidence, grounded in the knowledge that you’ve put in the time to be an expert in your field and in your life.