Whatever stage of your career you are currently in—job hunting, looking for growth opportunities at work, getting into consulting—chances are you’ve been doing your best, following the advice you’ve gotten from friends and family (and of course Idealist Careers). But, let’s say you’ve been taking all the right steps and they haven’t quite led to those breakthroughs you’re hoping for. It can feel daunting, leading you to wonder if you’re actually doing something “wrong”… or just don’t have the luck.
In these situations where you may not be seeing results, it’s natural to feel disempowered. Perhaps you’ve been making all the right moves, but feelings of insecurity, fear, or uncertainty are starting to creep in. If that’s the case, here’s how to take control.
Paint your picture of empowerment
Let’s first take a look at what it means to be “empowered.” For the sake of this article, we’ll say that empowerment comes from being fully present, confident and aware of your situation. You know how you will address it and are committed to action. You feel you are guided by a sense of wisdom and self-assurance in your decision-making.
Now think about what being empowered looks and feels like to you. Write down three phrases or power words that describe it. Bring it to mind whenever you sense fear creeping in or feel a lack of control over a situation. You should be better equipped to regain your sense of power when you can clearly envision it. Also use this image to amp up your confidence when moving on to the next step, identifying your fears.
For example, I equate the word “empowered” with “confidence,” “authenticity,” and “brightness.” When I think of the word, I envision someone walking down a sunlit street with a self-assured stride, beaming smile, and determined gaze, who easily catches the attention of passersby.
What fears are holding you back?
An important step is to name your fears. Whether it’s a fear of rejection, fear of not having control, or a fear of success (yes! This actually does happen!), have a little heart-to-heart with yourself and identify your fear. Next, make an appointment with yourself to face it.To identify your fears, try working with the following sentences. Fill in the blanks:
- The types of situations that make me most fearful are _______ because ___________.
- The types of environments in which I am fearful include____________.
- My most vivid memories of being afraid involve (what type of people, places, scenarios?).
- I feel most intimidated when I am around people who act ________________.
Schedule a fear-confronting date with yourself
An empowerment suggestion from Kristen Walker, professional life coach and co-founder of Clarity on Fire is to challenge yourself to face your fears on a regular basis. She suggests,
“Deliberately facing down your fears (whether it’s speaking up in a meeting or going skydiving) is an instant confidence booster. It puts the other stressors in your life in perspective and makes you realize, “If I could do that, then I can do anything.”
From the list you just created, what is one fear you would like to work on now? Commit to one small action you will take in the next week to experiment with facing that fear head-on. See the effect it has on your empowered view of yourself.
Create a “brag sheet”
Walker also suggests keeping your “wins” top-of-mind and refer to them on a regular basis. A “brag sheet” outlines anything you’ve done that you are proud of and makes you feel confident and in control. The key is to keep it someplace visible so you can see it regularly. Here is a quick guide to keeping track of your accomplishments on a regular basis so you’re constantly reminded of your successes. (By the way, don’t forget to add that fear-facing action you took during the week!)
Acknowledge the improvements
After taking these steps, note the degree to which you feel in control. As you may have observed, empowerment emerges when you have an awareness of yourself, your fears, and your needs.
By addressing the things that scare you and how to stop them from holding you back, your fears and uncertainty will make way for a more confident, empowered you!