I’ve been in a new position, technically, for about a month and a half. The first Monday in February was my official first day as my company’s new marketing person. But, because of a transition period, I’ve only been doing marketing since the beginning of March. Now we’re halfway through the month, and while I enjoy this 1000x more than what I was doing before, I can tell it’s gonna be a huge, huge learning experience. And when I am in the right state of mind, I am so excited about this. I can tell I’m going to grow a lot from this position. But when I get overwhelmed, I feel like it’s impossible.
I know I’m not the only person who feels like this. To some extent, I think everyone, young and old, kind of fakes their way through life. You have to. But there are good and bad ways to go about this, especially in a job. The bad way is to stick to doing the bare minimum, duck your head, and try to evade as many hard things as possible. The good way is to fake confidence instead of competence, because fake confidence eventually becomes real confidence (and hopefully competence follows along).
A note about confidence: I thought I had grown so much in that area of life. In later high school and in college, I gained a huge amount of confidence in how I look, what my beliefs are, and who I am as a person. And that’s so important, and I’m proud of myself for that. But I have been realizing that there are other types of confidence that I need to develop, like confidence in my professional skills and judgment and decision-making and ability to say no…
On my good days, I know that I do have the abilities (or ability to develop them) that I need. The effort is in remembering that all the time, and using that to bounce back when I make a mistake or when an idea gets shot down. So far, here’s what’s been working for me.
- Wearing heels and/or lipstick to work. This might sound silly, but I’m actually very serious about this. When I feel like I look the part, I am more focused, more positive, more productive, and more proactive. Confidence in appearance = confidence in other things!
- Chatting with coworkers. I’m an introvert, so I tend to shy away from situations where I don’t have to talk to people. But talking to my coworkers is helpful because 1) they can listen to and empathize with and encourage me in my problems (and help me laugh them off), and 2) they can unload their problems on me also, which benefits them and allows me to take the focus off myself. And if we’re not talking about work, chatting about whatever else is going on serves as a little mental break.
- Getting organized. When I’m organized, I’m not overwhelmed. I try to list several specific tasks for each week, and then I break those down across weekdays. I use a paper planner to get my eyes off my computer screen and to help me remember things better.
- Meet with my supervisor regularly and keep lines of communication open. My company has not had a dedicated marketing person in several years, so there is not really a set meeting schedule. I’ve been trying to meet with my supervisor several times a week, and I try to update her regularly on what I’m working on. I get a lot of freedom being the only person doing what I’m doing, but I definitely try not to abuse that.
- Force myself to branch out and meet new people. Part of my job includes going to Chamber of Commerce meetings, where I don’t know anyone at all. I’ve been going with my supervisor or another coworker, but I’m really bad about holding back and waiting until they introduce me to whoever they know. This is one of the things I need to work on the most. I need to treat every event as if I’m there alone, because I know I’m better at putting myself out there if I only have myself to rely on.
- Make my workspace pretty. My desk is kind of crammed in a hallway with flourescent lighting and no windows — it’s not glamorous or ideal. But I’ve tried to make it my own — I put up a bulletin board to block a walkway a bit, I brought my rock salt lamp to work, and sometimes I bring fruit-infused water to drink just because it looks nice. (Okay, it tastes good too, but the #aesthetic, man.) When I like my surroundings, I work better.
I know not all of these things are possible for everyone in a similar position. But the same idea stands — if you can find ways to boost your fake confidence, your real confidence will creep up on you.
What are some ways you fake or have faked confidence in a new job? Or have you had to do this at all?