Confidence Boosters for Reinventors

Career reinvention can be daunting unless you start out with plenty of confidence in your abilities.  Follow these steps, adapted from Caroline Dowd-Higgins' book This is Not the Career I Ordered (Reinvention Press) as you strategize ways to achieve your new professional goals.

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Ask Others To Help You Identify Your Strengths


Identifying your own skills can sometimes be challenging. It can help to have people close to you pinpoint particular skills that they recognize in you. Have them include transferable skills which can be taken from job to job (i.e. verbal and written skills, critical thinking, leadership ability), specialized knowledge which relates to a specific field (i.e. French language proficiency, culinary skills), and adaptive skills which relate to how well you fit into your work environment (motivation, initiative, self-management).

Build a Board of Directors


Mentors are one of your most valuable career resources. Cultivate these relationships and do not hesitate to ask a mentor for guidance in your career pursuits.  Mentors can boost your confidence and empower you to overcome obstacles that they themselves have dealt with in the past.

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Baby Step Your Way


Keep goals attainable by splitting your long-term goals into small, easy-to-achieve actions. Carol Covin, in This is Not the Career I Ordered, set out to invent a product that would cure cancer. She knew this would be a long-term project, so she wrote down focused objectives that could be achieved over a more immediate, 90-day period. To avoid becoming overwhelmed by hefty goals, identify quicker solutions instead of focusing on the problems. 

Journal Your Progress


Studies prove you are 90 times more likely to accomplish a goal when it is written down. Mary McManus used this method to achieve her own goals. She kept a 30-day journal divided into 3 sections for each day and wrote down her goals and action steps for each section. Mary, who was diagnosed with post polio syndrome at age 53, completed the 2009 Boston Marathon despite physical limitations after journaling her ambitions.

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Learn to Accept Change


The key is to embrace changes in your life before life imposes changes on you. Tap into your adaptability and resilience and you will flourish. Employers value a resilient attitude as much as any professional skill. 

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Utilize Your “Soft Skills”


Don’t underestimate the importance of soft skills such as self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. Take time to consider how well you perform in these areas and work to improve these skills which are highly valued in the professional world.

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Become Useful to Others


Become a mentor for others so you can do something rewarding and showcase your talent. Join a board of an organization, speak at a conference, or simply offer suggestions, ideas and referrals to those who may be novices in your field. 

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Play to Your Strengths


Don’t get stuck in a sensible career that doesn’t suit you. Mary Wasiak graduated from law school only to find her legal career unfulfilling. After three years working at Planned Parenthood she recognized how much she enjoyed and excelled at working with teenagers and she pursued her dream career as a teacher. Mary’s mantra: “Success is living the life that you want.”

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Own Your Accolades


Talking about your successes also serves as the basis for networking and is the key to a great interview. Celebrate both your skills and your career milestones to further motivate you to reach your end goal.

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Brand Yourself


Develop an understanding of what you do well and what sets you apart from others. Finding that thing that’s special about you and marketing yourself in this way will give you the opportunity to become a commodity in your new career.  Grace Chon traded her advertising career for a modern pet photography business. By identifying her ad agency skills and taping into her love of animals, she started a business that met the demands of a niche market.


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First Published February 8, 2011

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