I came into this world with certain attributes that took no effort: my almond-shaped eyes, my obsession for anything peanut butter and chocolate, and my more-than-I-care-to-admit muscular calves (thanks, Dad). Confidence, on the other hand, is a trait I can say, without a doubt, I was not blessed with from day one. In fact, self-esteem is an unfamiliar feeling I struggle with. But confidence is a learned skill that takes practice, much like riding a bike or mastering a new language—something I gleaned from Jessica Chang-Irish, founder of Jessica Chang Consulting and a coach who trains women to speak and carry themselves more confidently.
So how does Chang-Irish define confidence? “Confidence isn’t about being self-assured all the time,” she stated. “Rather, it’s a practice of self-awareness, acknowledging your value and gifts as well as your insecurities, and having the courage to break through those insecurities and do the hard things anyway—whether it be getting a new job, putting yourself back out in the dating scene, or recovering from an injury. Being a confident person also means being vulnerable. Confident people aren’t afraid to be vulnerable because they know they’re still valuable while being human and imperfect.”
It turns out, even confidence pros who exude major boss vibes have to work on their self-confidence every. single. day. Ahead, Chang-Irish’s daily must-haves to finding your inner power and confidence. Hint: They’re not your average tips.
1. Remember your “why”
Knowing your “why” (AKA your purpose) is the first step in tapping into your confidence. Why do you get out of bed every morning? Why do you do what you do? “Your why is your Northstar to turn to when you feel unsure or you’re being tested,” Chang-Irish explained. Author and speaker Simon Sinek agrees that when you start with your why (versus how and what you do), you have the ability to inspire those around you and yourself.
Think of your why as your mission statement. It doesn’t just have to apply to your career— it could be for your personal life too. Then, write it out. You can start with: “In everything I do, I believe …” Chang-Irish shared hers: “In everything I do and everyone I work with, I believe each and every person is capable of finding their voice and shining in the spotlight, and that I can empower and equip them to become a more confident version of themselves.” Once you’ve jotted down your why, post it up somewhere you frequent every day as a friendly reminder (think: your desk, fridge, bathroom mirror).
2. Surround yourself with a tribe of like-minded women
Let’s face it: We’re our own worst critics. I don’t think twice about complimenting a stranger for her on-point ‘fit, but when it comes to myself, I nit-pick and dwell on my imperfections. Enter: friends or mentors who can empathize with you but don’t let you wallow in the “what ifs” and all-or-nothing thinking. Oh, and they give you a good kick in the butt to keep at it. Chang-Irish pointed out that your tribe could comprise of your friends, sisters, cousins, co-workers, or even communities on social media who share your interests. Be intentional about building your circle—each person may bring something different to the table, but they all should help you stay aligned with your purpose and your most authentic self.
3. Pay attention to your inner voice
PSA: What you tell yourself matters. Whether you realize it or not, your self-talk can make the difference between gaining confidence and standing in your own way. The seemingly harmless narrative—”I’m not good/smart/pretty enough” or “I can’t”—you’ve been telling yourself creates your reality. On the flip side, fostering an optimistic monologue in your mind boosts your self-confidence and bids negative emotions adieu. In fact, people who can master positive thoughts and beliefs are more confident, motivated, and productive.
“It’s up to you to develop your own inner voice of encouragement,” said Chang-Irish. “Or maybe you’ll find that voice in someone from your tribe. When you hear that voice of doubt in your head or feel the fear rising up, rewrite those limiting thinking patterns and remind yourself that you can do hard things. When you practice shifting your inner voice of doubt to a voice of encouragement, your confidence will flourish.”
4. Prepare for the important interactions you’ll have
Think back to your college days or an interview you recently had. How confident were you walking into a final or your dream company and having put in the effort to study and do your research? My guess is way more confident than had you not prepared. In the same vein, laying the groundwork for the important conversations you’ll have in your day ahead will set you up for success and give you the opportunity to flex your confidence muscles.
“Whether it’s a date, meeting, job interview, or networking event, think about what you’ll say in the five to 10 seconds you have to introduce yourself, how you’ll keep the conversation going, and what’s in it for the person or people you’re talking to,” Chang-Irish recommended. “While that first impression catches their attention, how are you going to keep their attention? One of the best ways to do that is to ask them questions. Do your homework about the person or people you’ll meet and come up with questions about their interests that genuinely interest you.”
5. Listen to podcasts that fill your soul and lift you up
Much like your tribe reminds you of your purpose and worth, the right podcast can be just the friend or voice you need for your daily dose of confidence. And, sure enough, there is no shortage of motivational podcasts that are just a tap away. Chang-Irish’s go-to’s are “Oprah’s Super Soul,” “The Marie Forleo Podcast,” and “How to Fail With Elizabeth Day,” where you can expect open dialogue and sage advice from industry experts and celebs. And did you listen to The Everygirl Podcast yet? The episode with confidence coach, Regina Bonds, has such great insight into truly loving yourself and showing up as your most confident self.
Adding a few inspirational programs to your queue will not only give you a shot of self-belief but also a reprieve from the usual suspects—the “nevers,” “what ifs,” and “can’ts” (ruminating, who?). So go ahead and take that podcast out for a spin (read: walk) and get ready for an extra pep in your “hot girl” step.