No-one appreciates me
No-one gets the effort I put in
No-one thinks I'm good enough
“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”
(William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure)
Unfortunately the world is one of comparison with social media making that much easier. With photographic filters and other such applications so accessible, it is no longer the established brand that can promote a favourable image, but the person next door. With leaders being ever encouraged to have a social media presence (Dottie, 2017) it is no longer possible to avoid the very “tool” which is being linked to growing depression and anxiety (Becker at al, 2013). Social media is of course not the only reason we may lack or lose confidence, but it is notable in addition to:
- Personal issues
- Lack of support
- A losing streak (Kanter, 2005)
Tenacity, the ability to think critically and make reasoned judgments are essential, but self-doubt at times when decisions have to be made swiftly or action taken at once, can hinder performance, therefore confidence in your ability to do this is an asset.
Your self-confidence can be defined as the trust that you have in your abilities. It is the “…bridge connecting expectations and performance… [it] attracts investment--not just money but time, energy loyalty and commitment.”(Kanter, 2005)
With self-confidence being linked to success, it is important to have a variety of success indicators to maintain a positive view of your ability. However, outside the education system, and later outside the structure of a team, you may have no certificate to tell him or her “well done”, nor do you always have someone championing them as you as would others. As such it is helpful to recognise what success looks like when it is not explicitly offered.
- Identify what success looks like within your field
Eg. Repeat custom, recommendations or positive feedback
Bonuses or benefits
Awards or accreditations
- Measure yourself against that criteria
- Note areas where you are pleased and areas where you would like to improve
- Identify one action in order to take a step towards that improvement
However, maybe you want to go a little deeper??
We know, somewhere, deep down, that at the end of our time we won't be saying I wish I spent more time working...but it's hard to really see that when we're in the midst of a deadline, and over-delivering has become a habit. What's worse is this irony for many of us is that while we put the needs of work at the top of our lists, we also question how much our efforts are really appreciated...and then also regret it when too great a focus on the former squeezes out the time we have to offer to our families and loved ones. We then kid ourselves through this moment of cognitive dissonance by saying "It's OK, I work hard so we can have a lovely holiday"...and maybe - hopefully - you do, but sometimes, this results in extra pressure on the holiday to be "amazing" - and anything but seems a disappointment, and before you know it, you're back to work anyway!
So try this as well:
Write down 20 things that describe you. (We will often start with our titles or achievements eg: I'm a teacher, I'm a psychologist, I'm an author...and so on)
Keep going until you have all 20, because around the middle you'll find the things which you probably care about the most (eg: I'm a dog owner, I'm a wife, I'm a friend to some amazing people)...and then as you run out of those, you get to I'm reliable, I overdeliver, I have high standards...
Then, when it comes to goal setting, think about what each of those elements will look like (or how you'd like them to look) at the end of this year; at the end of next; and then in 3 - 5 - 10 years. Some may change, others may expand, but either way, the information you have at the end not only will give you direction when it comes to taking the steps to live your best life, but it'll also reveal, refine, and give you insight into the things that are really important to you as well.
Positive psychology identifies that the three key things that bring us fulfilment and happiness are:
- A state of flow
- Healthy Relationships
...and this may well be echoed in what you discover from the exercise above - your job may stay the same (if you like what you are doing), but your connections, relationships and your values will grow and deepen.
...and perhaps you will see, in YOUR words, what YOUR "Success Criteria" looks like!!
While in my field, the first exercise did bring up things like "repeat custom" and "awards" as they are a recognition from peers; doing the second made me see that "repeat custom" was something I wanted to develop into "long-term collaborations with likeminded people"; and "awards" really was about being well thought of in my field, rather than the bade of honour!
Rather than focus on the things you are able to achieve, instead focus on the contribution you are able to make.
Instead of "what did I DO?", ask "how did I help/make a difference?"
Try this approach when it comes to your sense of being recognised as well. Rather than looking at whether you got direct praise, perhaps reflect on whether anyone said THANK YOU today...because you did that.
I'm not making excuses for companies who do not appreciate their employees - but what I would say is if YOU start recognising your value more, you might also recognise when it really is THEM not YOU, and you can go and find somewhere that truly appreciates you!
Dr Audrey Tang is a chartered psychologist and author with a specialty in the practical "how to take action", rather than just giving explanation and advice. Listen to her podcast Retrain Your Brain here; or her Radio Show "The Wellbeing Lounge", and catch her practical masterclasses Psych Back to Basics on DisruptiveTV & Energy Top Up for resilience. For self development tools based within positive psychology: click Her YouTube Channel . Twitter/IG @draudreyt
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