Boost Your Confidence by Writing the "Story of You"

Just don’t compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 20 - Issue #24

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I worked my way through school to get my education, spent more than two decades in Tech working for some of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies, yet I often feel like I’m a million miles away from my goals. There are so many things that I still want to accomplish.

It’s even more frustrating if I look at the accomplishments of someone like Elon Musk. His company, Tesla, is truly changing the world in a huge way.

But, you should never compare an early chapter in your “book” to others who are farther along in their books. In the case of Elon, just don’t compare your book to his book at all. Ever.

In my case, the first book was already pretty far along, but I wasn’t happy with where it was going. So, I decided to complete the last chapter of that book and starting writing a new one. Here I am in my new chapter 1, and I’m taking full control of how this story will end.

Where are you in the book of your life?

Are you satisfied with what you have accomplished?

Are you happy with where you are heading?

Where is your bookmark?

Regardless of where you are in your life and career, you may feel frustrated by your perceived progress relative to where you wish your bookmark was currently placed. It’s easy to look ahead at the blank pages remaining and be disappointed.

I’ve felt that way at times. If you never have, you’re an amazingly self-aware, proud, and confident person. Buy me a coffee sometime so that I can meet you.

That actually wasn’t me being sarcastic, by the way. I really do love meeting people who have always known what they wanted to be when they grew up, had a plan, and are happy with their progress. I’ve met a few people like that and it is truly a joy to behold.

Now, for the rest of us who sometimes have doubts, I have found the following to be a helpful exercise. Sit down in a quiet place, with your favorite mug of coffee or tea, and start capturing the “Story of You” from the beginning.

We’ve all been on a more amazing journey than we realize. We’ve had life experiences that we have mostly forgotten or taken for granted. We’ve accomplished things that we no longer feel are worth mentioning. It’s time to revisit all of that.

The Story of You

When I recommend to people that they should write about their career and life experiences, they are humble to a fault. They say:

  • Oh, my life isn’t that interesting

  • “I haven’t really accomplished that much”

  • “No one would want to hear what I have to say”

That’s absolutely false. We’re not the best judge of ourselves. We’re too close, and take too much for granted.

We have forgotten so many experiences and accomplishments that only come up when someone asks deeper and more detailed questions. Then, you start to hear things like:

  • Oh yes, I guess I did publish a book once”

  • “I forgot about that summer when I backpacked around Europe”

  • Well, I do remember doubling revenue at that company when I was leading the team

I’m amazed by how easily people brush off their accomplishments. They don’t realize how valuable their stories would be to so many people who are just starting down their own career paths. They aren’t aware of the people who would benefit from their words of wisdom.

There is always someone in need of the knowledge that you have locked up in your head.

That is reason enough to start capturing and sharing your story. However, I have another motive in mind. When you take the time to write down everything you’ve done in your life, you realize how far you’ve come.

You start to see patterns in your talent, skills, knowledge, and experience. Once that is all laid out in front of you, your confidence grows. You may still have a long way to go, but you now understand how far you’ve come.

“Everyone is necessarily the hero of his own life story.”
- John Barth

Confidence is a fuel

I’m not talking about false confidence. I don’t like tricks or hacks to appear more confident. I’m talking about true self-confidence that you have earned and recognize based on rereading your story.

Real confidence is a fuel that powers achievement in your life. It improves your relationships, career, and wellbeing. It will enable you to take bigger risks and accomplish more audacious goals.

It will help carry you through the inevitable failures and setbacks. You’ll shrug them off more quickly, get back up, and carry on.

Yes, there are things you can do now to further develop your confidence (e.g., improving your health and fitness, acquiring new skills, improving your public speaking, constantly educating yourself). However, writing the Story of You will immediately elevate your confidence because it’s the culmination of decades of accomplishments and work you’ve already put in.

Take some time this week to kick off that process!

What I’ve Been Reading and Writing

  • I recently published ten red flags that may show up during a job interview. Some of them should give you pause. A few of them should scare you away. If the interview process is that bad, working there will be even worse. No job is worth the pain of what is coming…

  • Should you accept a lower-level job after taking a break in your career? That’s the question discussed in this HBR article. “The first job back is temporary,” says Advancing Women’s Careers’ Friedman. “It is just the start of the rest of someone’s career post-career break, and while it is important to feel the level and salary make sense and are fair all around, the next step is equally important — where do they go after that first role?

  • Are you considering quitting your job? In this article, Ashira Prossack talks about the four things you should do first. Get clear on your why. Have a firm plan for you want to do next. Do your homework. Consider your finances.