Q. I know you want us to be confident but I’m not! My experience is so limited. I have four total years of work experience and I’m competing with people who might have ten or fifteen years. How can I compete with them?
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A. When those people write to me they say, “I’m competing with people who have four years of experience and boundless energy and great ideas! How can I compete with them?” Everyone is focused on what they DON’T have or something they perceive as a weakness.
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The truth is that you are awesome with four years of work experience and you were awesome when you had none. We could always focus on what we think we lack. I could, you could, and every other person could. How would that help us?
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Four years of experience is a lot. Four years are more than enough experience to do tons of interesting and empowering jobs.
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My first suggestion is for you to get a journal and write in it. Write about the job you want and why it’s a perfect job for you. Write about your amazing stories of times you came, saw and conquered on the job (or at school or in a volunteer capacity).
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There are two kinds of power. One is the kind conferred on you by other people. It comes in job titles, promotions, salary increases, budgets, staffs, awards and things of that nature. There’s nothing wrong with that kind of power – it feels great to be acknowledged, for one thing – but the far more important kind of power is the other kind.
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The real power is the kind you build in yourself, day by day and experience by experience. You get stronger when you overcome adversity – perhaps the very kind of adversity you’re facing in your job search right now.
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My second suggestion is to surround yourself with people who bring you up. Limit your contact with people who bring you down (or God forbid, put you down). Stepping into your power is a big part of taking control of your life and career.
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It’s a lifelong journey. It doesn’t happen all at once.
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Noticing that you’re feeling depleted and lacking in confidence is a great first step.
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Apart from journaling and getting support from the people who love you, my third suggestion is to do something for yourself every day.
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It might be stretching on the floor.
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It might be reading a book you’ve been dying to get into.
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It might be listening to an hour of music because it makes you feel better.
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These are tough times.
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Give yourself a break. Your power will come back, little by little. Don’t get down on yourself – there will always be people around ready to do that for you. You are your own best champion!