When it comes to career confidence, there’s no substitute for positive self-talk, a strong support network or goal planning – strategies that require long-term dedication and on-going work.
Our surprising sources of confidence – all backed by research and science – aren’t shortcuts to everlasting self-esteem, but they can be useful ways to top up the results of your endeavours to be you at your most confident.
1. A FEW MORE SECONDS OF EXERCISE
It’s well documented that exercise boosts serotonin levels which give us that ‘top-of-the-world-I-can-do-anything’ feeling immediately after a gym session. But pushing yourself just that little harder – one more squat when you’ve hit your limit or a few extra lengths of the pool when your legs are turning to jelly – can make all the difference to your mental prowess.>
Researchers at Penn State University found that a few surplus dead lifts, lunges or burpees can pump up self-esteem as well as blood flow, and give you a feeling of being in control even when you’re in your weakest ego state – all of which adds up to super-toned confidence levels.
2. A LIBERAL SPRITZ OF CHANEL NO.5
Or indeed any scent you know and love. We all know that power dressing can be a huge confidence booster – looking the part can make you feel the part to the extent where you really become the part. But research also suggests that taking pride in how you smell can also affect how you feel, and in turn elevate your confidence levels.
The study states: “This effect highlights the flexible nature of self-esteem to respond to rapid changes in one’s own physical traits through the use of artificial cosmetic products. An individual’s personal odour and the perfume product chosen may thus influence both self-perception and impressions formed by others.”
In other words, a quick spritz before that big presentation or job interview could not only increase your inner confidence levels, but also make you behave more confidently, thus appearing so to your audience.
3. PUMP UP THE VOLUME
You probably know instinctively that music can have a transformative effect on your psyche – a cheery tune can quash the blues, a gentle track can help you relax, an old favourite can bring out the nostalgic in you. But research by the Kellogg School Of Management suggests music can also elevate your self-esteem levels, or at least that certain types of music can bring about a sort of psychological empowerment.
Participants listening to ‘high power’ music not only reported feeling more confident than participants listening to ‘low power’ music but they also identified more power-associated words in word puzzles and, crucially, behaved in a more confident fashion – opting to go first in a public debate, for example, while those listening to ‘low power’ music more commonly opted for second place.
“Just as professional athletes might put on empowering music before they take the field to get them in a powerful state of mind,” says researcher Derek Rucker, “you might try [listening to ‘’high power’ music] in certain situations where you want to be empowered.”
The three ‘high power’ tracks used in the research were Queen’s We Will Rock You, 2Unlimited’s Get Ready For This, and 50 Cent’s In Da Club – all tracks with a heavy bass. Give them a quick listen right before the next time you’re in any kind of evaluative situation – or give one a whirl right now and tell us how it makes you feel in the comments below!
4. PLAYING DETECTIVE FROM YOUR SOFA
If you love curling up with a good murder mystery or following a television detective as he or she attempts to bring down a villain, it might be about more than entertainment – it might be because it’s doing your self-esteem some good too. Research by the Ohio State University found that cracking a case before the detective does can deliver a big confidence boost.
But here’s the clincher: the case needs to be difficult enough for you to go through a mental process to solve it and feel good when you do, yet not so difficult that you either can’t unlock it or you get it wrong and are left surprised. In other words the villain needs to be good – but not too good. So next time you’re looking for bedtime reading or a new box-set to get your teeth into – look for one with a cracking case rather than a surprising twist in its tale.
5. ANGELINA JOLIE
It might seem counterintuitive that comparing yourself to one of the richest, most beautiful movie stars in the world could elevate your self-esteem. But a research paper about ‘faux relationships’ (such as you have with celebrities about whom you know much despite them knowing nothing of you in return) and how they ‘benefit low self-esteem individuals’ suggests this might hold weight.
The study found that when women spent time writing down the ways in which they were similar to a same-sex celebrity, they felt more positive about themselves. So channel your inner Hillary Clinton, Angelina Jolie, Oprah Winfrey (or find a new role model in one of these biographies of successful businesswoman), and examine how you measure up – whether it’s the causes you’re passionate about, your taste in music or even your posture.