If there's a universal feeling that holds women back at work, it's self-doubt. Not the preserve of the wallflower or the returning mother, even women at the top of their game worry that they don't really deserve that big promotion or that they are perceived as more of an expert than they truly are. Imposter syndrome, the confidence gap: call it what you will. It's a big problem. And since it's in our heads, now is the time to take control. A lack of confidence is often caused by what we call limiting beliefs: unhelpful assumptions that limit our potential and the choices we make. These beliefs - for example "I'm not as good at my job as my boss thinks I am" - usually aren't objectively true, they only hold weight because we have decided (subconsciously) over a period of time that this is the way things are. This workout can help you put those beliefs back in their box to let your inner confidence out.
- Reflect on your limiting beliefs. Do you worry that you are not good enough? Or think that you don't deserve success? (A couple of minutes. Spending too long reflecting on the negative can reinforce rather than break the cycle.)
- Now, draw up a positive belief record. Write the belief that's holding you back at the top. Then identify it's opposite number. Concerned you don't merit that promotion? Your new belief is that you deserve the new role you've worked so hard to achieve.
- Below that you need a couple of lines for each day this week. Yes, we're going to put pen to paper (or at least print to page). It might feel like school, but the written word has more power to change assumptions than thought alone.
- This bit's up to you. Fill in the record with two pieces of evidence each day that support the new belief or are inconsistent with the old belief. These might be experiences you have, observations you make or things someone says to you. In our example, they might be great feedback from your team, a successful project over the line thanks to your input or praise for a contribution with clients. Anything that shows your thinking isn't quite right.
- At the end of the week, reread your record. The cold, hard evidence that you can achieve is right there in front of you. Now believe it and watch your confidence begin to climb.