Practice. Be ok with making mistakes. Don’t take it personally.
These are the three principles I’ve used to build my confidence to start working at home. When I started, I didn’t have the confidence. I constantly questioned my work. I also wasn’t very good. But here’s the thing — most people aren’t very good when they start something.
Just like the students you teach, when you’re learning something new you need time to sit with the information and even more important — time to practice it. Practice as much as you can as often as you can. Practicing is the antidote to the fear of failure.
Learn the new skill — either teach it to yourself or take an online course, watch a Youtube video, etc. If you’re teaching it to yourself or watching it from a Youtube video, find someone who can help critique it for you and also self-critique.
When you’re self-critiquing, here are few principles to stick to so this practice helps you build confidence instead of losing it:
- Remind yourself that if what you worked on isn’t to someone else’s standard or quality, that’s ok. It’s a new skill you’re learning and it would be unreasonable to think that your first or second attempt on a new skill would be perfect or to the level of a professional. It’s going to take some practice.
- As much as possible, come at it from a perspective of “I’m learning and I’m curious” rather than judgment and frustration.
- Ask yourself what your initial reaction was. Why was that?
- Ask yourself what you like.
- Ask yourself how you can improve.
- If you’re not sure how you can improve, it’s useful to look at what the leaders in the field are doing and compare your work with theirs objectively. It’s not so that you feel bad or can tell yourself that you’re not good enough — it’s simply for data purposes.
The more you can objectively view your work and get curious about how you can improve, the more you’ll be able to build up your confidence muscle.
Be ok with making mistakes
It can be hard to make mistakes, even when you’re just making them in front of yourself. You might think that you’re stupid, or lazy, but you’re none of those things.
The sooner you can be ok with that learning process, the easier it’s going to be for you to move forward and grow more quickly. Here’s my favorite way to view the learning process (especially since it involves Star Wars ;)) Credit to Heather Kinkaide, a phenomenal math teacher
Making mistakes is part of the process and it happens at many stages in the process.
Far better to try something and make a mistake than to sit on the sideline because you might (will) make a mistake.
The person who tries is already closer than the one who never starts.
Don’t take it personally.
There will be other times you create something and you get less than stellar feedback.
When that happens, you have two choices:
- Make it mean something about you and get defensive or
- Decide all it means is that you’re an action taker and this feedback is helping you get closer to your goal of mastery.
When you approach the feedback from curiosity rather than judgment, you’re going to find that the feedback you’re getting is a valuable part of your growth process.
Taking feedback and using it to propel has helped me build the confidence to work at home because it helps me grow at an accelerated rate. I know even if I create something that isn’t loved, that I can pivot and learn from my mistakes really quickly because I’ve practiced listening to feedback and not taking it personally. This is a soft skill that’s often overlooked but one of the most valuable ones you can build.
If you’re not used to practicing a new skill, making mistakes, or listening to feedback, it might be a hard transition to make at first.
It was for me.
When I started putting these principles into action, though, I began to build the confidence needed to start working from home. My new mantra became:
“With enough time, practice, and patience, I can learn to do anything really, really well.”
Ready to get started on your work-at-home career? Check our Teacher’s Toolkit to help you get started today on your life after teaching journey. You can also subscribe and visit our Facebook page at Facebook.com/lifeafterteaching to hear from others on this journey and find even more resources as you look to build confidence and create the life you want after teaching.