A confidence crisis is looming with a recent study showing that 3 out of 4 of us would love to be more confident but don't know how to go about it.
The sheer quantity of choices and opportunities for thirtysomethings is greater than ever before and for the people polled, seeing through these opportunities and finding what's right for them can seem like an impossible task.
The research (conducted by website www.lifecoachforyou.com) polled over four hundred thirtysomethings in the UK and USA, and also found that a massive nine out of ten people (88%) in their thirties openly acknowledge that they're not living up to their full potential, showing that even though people want more for themselves they lack the confidence to get it.
According to thirtysomething confidence expert Steve Errey, "Confidence is the number one thing that holds people back, and it can be a real block when we're looking to make changes." says Errey, "If you have a lack of confidence it runs through all parts of your life, from relationships to career to social life. A boost in confidence gives us the space to explore what works for us, and makes it okay for us to go out and try different things."
The survey showed that thirtysomethings rate themselves as 66% confident on average, and most would like to be in the 90-100% confident range. "That lack of confidence and the gap between where people find themselves today and where they want to be makes ripe ground for the quarter-life crisis," adds Errey. "It's a huge and growing problem that's now a reality for many people, but it doesn't have to be that way."
"I can't believe the change in myself," says Sarah, a thirtysomething based in London who went through a coaching programme with Steve to boost her confidence. "I feel so comfortable in my own skin now, and don't talk down to myself anymore ? something I used to do all the time. I feel okay in situations that used to make me feel awful or panicky, and so many things in my life have just fallen into place."
Steve says there are three keys to getting more confidence. "First of all, you need to recognise that you're your own worst critic, and notice how much of each day you spend giving yourself a hard time or talking yourself out of things. In coaching we call that negative voice the Gremlin, and it has a huge part to play in keeping you where you are and will use every trick in the book to stop you from taking chances.
"You wouldn't put up with your best friend talking to you the way your Gremlin does, so don't put up with your Gremlin talking to you like that. When you know when the Gremlin is talking to you you're able to develop strategies to deal with it. With that voice gone you can replace it with a more positive one, a voice that reminds you of what you want and tells you that you can do it." says Errey. The survey supports this and shows that 68% of those polled regularly hear "the Gremlin" with just 4% never hearing that voice.
"When I figured out that most of what I told myself was coming from the Gremlin there was no holding me back," says Sarah of her experience, "that voice still pipes up from time to time but I know where it's coming from and know how to put it in its place. That was a huge realisation for me."
"The second thing is to get to know your personal values," says Errey. "A value is something that's ten thousand feet down inside you, right at the core of who you are. A value is something in yourself, in others or in the world that's most important to you, and could include things like respect, progress, family, achievement or freedom.
"When you know your values you can start making choices based on them and get your life aligned around them. You know those times when you've felt amazing or powerful or buzzing? Those are the times when some of your values are being honoured, and you can get more of that by living according to them."
With the survey showing that nearly nine out of ten thirtysomethings feel they aren't living up to their potential, Steve believes that values are one of the biggest missing pieces of the puzzle. "Living according to your values is one of the simplest changes someone can make, and the great thing is that it feels amazing when you do it. All you're doing is letting the fundamental chunks of yourself live in the real world ? so of course that's going to feel great."
Sarah agrees, "Learning my values was really important. I identified them at the start and they still hold true six months later. Knowing them makes me feel 'okay' about all kinds of different situations."
The final key to confidence is perhaps the hardest ? taking action. "Life rewards action," says Errey, "and everything you do takes you one step closer to what you want." The poll showed that three out of ten of people always put things off and a further four out of ten tend to put things off on a regular basis.
"When I figure out what I want or what I need to do I go ahead and do it now," continues Sarah, "Just doing something makes me feel good, and if I hit the procrastination stage I know how to handle it."
"Do at least one thing every day towards what you want" adds Errey, "you'll be amazed at how your confidence builds and how quickly things can fall into place."
About the Author
Steve Errey specialises in personal growth for thirtysomethings, works with people on their careers, relationships and confidence and helps them get more fun, fulfilment and freedom. For more information please contact Steve on 0845 644 3001, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at http://www.steveerrey.com.