Overcoming Self-Doubt through Self-Appreciation 

Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.” William Shakespeare

You do so many great things over the course of your WorkLife, some of which you forget about or take for granted, and you do not always recognise how something you have done in the past can help you with something you aspire to do in the future. This can lead to you not fully appreciating who you are and how much you have to give, which in turn can lead you to doubt yourself.

A Case Study

Joe’s Story: I Won’t be Considered for Jobs Because I’m Too Old 

When I first began delivering outplacement programmes, I delivered a programme that was sponsored by the government to help people back into work. It was a year-long programme focussed on training and developing people in the area of supply change management. I was engaged to support people in the job-search element of the programme. The participants were quite diverse in terms of age, experience and backgrounds. I remember a conversation I had with one of the participants called Joe, because it is one I have time and time again.

Joe was in his early 60’s, and although he was going through the motions of the programme, he had the belief that because of his age that at the end of it organisations would not be interested in employing him, and would choose younger candidates over him. My thinking was different: Joe’s CV demonstrated his loyalty to the organisations he had previously worked with. He had actually worked for his most recent employer for over thirty years before his position had been made redundant. Although he had been with the same organisation his career had been quite progressive and he had advanced in terms of the roles and responsibilities he had undertaken. Along with his CV demonstrating his loyalty and ability, it also demonstrated his ‘stay ability’.

To my way of thinking these factors made Joe an attractive candidate to employers. Yes perhaps he only had four or five years before retirement, but this is actually quite substantial taking into account how much people move around in their WorkLives today. Someone younger may perhaps see an opportunity of joining an organisation as a stepping-stone to the next stage of their WorkLife, and will use this experience to facilitate this. Today’s job market is very different to that of when Joe began his WorkLife, when a job was for life. I actually think this is quite positive because it allows a flow that supports people at different WorkLife stages; and when people like Joe want to join an organisation with a commitment to staying with them for four or five years, the organisation will recognise this as being a genuine commitment.

Joe told me our conversation helped him to overcome his self-doubt and rethink his situation. He approached his job search more positively, and now recognised and appreciated just how much he had to offer a potential employer, feeling more confident in communicating this.

A Case Study

My Story: I’ve never done this before, Is it/Am I good enough? 

While I am really good at helping other people recognise and realise their potential to overcome their self-doubt, and to appreciate how much they have within themselves to achieve their WorkLife dreams and aspirations, at times I struggle with my own self-doubt, and I do not always recognise, realise or appreciate my own potential, and what I have within me to achieve my WorkLife dreams and aspirations. 

Revisiting Joe’s story as I was writing this book my own self-doubt crept back in. I am putting so much of myself into this work: it is who I am; it is what I am about; it goes to the core of my identity; and it makes me feel quite vulnerable. Vulnerable because of how much of myself I am sharing. Vulnerable because it is my first time writing a book, and I do not know if people will think it is good. I actually do not know myself if it is good. I know I am enjoying writing, but that does not necessarily mean it is good, and that is where my self-doubt is creeping in. As I begin to question how good this work is, I question how good I am. I want people to consider my work to be good, actually I want them to consider it to be great. But I need to overcome my self-doubt and appreciate my own work.

While all of this was going on in my head, I had a request to write a short biography focusing on my professional life from London Southbank University (LSBU). I am part of their Curriculum Advisory Board in a voluntary capacity. They required it for their website. This is what I wrote:

Carmel O’ Reilly Biography

I’m Carmel O’ Reilly, a WorkLife Consultant. I help people manage, develop and transition their WorkLives through people development programmes. With a degree in Career Coaching and Management, I have 15 years’ experience coaching, training and helping people move forward in their WorkLives. My approach enables an understanding of skills, attributes, knowledge, experience and potential in line with values and motivators, to enable a more fulfilling WorkLife with a clear sense of direction.                                                                                                                

I’ve developed a continuous performance management solution to help people manage their own WorkLife performance development through effective feedback, insightful questions, and the ability to shape and tell their own unique story.  

                                                                                                                                                                Working with a team of actors I create WorkPlace Theatre: theatrical productions written following research into organisational challenges and desired outcomes. Live performances mirror reality to communicate issues directly to those watching. The plays form the centrepiece of learning and development, stimulating discussion and debate. Live learning events to help people manage workplace issues include: Difficult Conversations: Managing Upwards Downwards Sideways. Moving From Annual Appraisals To In The Moment Feedback. Well-Being: Mental Health and Hidden Disabilities. Diversity and Inclusion.

I work with organisations to create experiential learning designed for individuals and teams to create an environment where new ideas and ways of working are encouraged. Through programmes that combine learning and the arts, people are enabled to practice new skills and behaviours in a safe, supportive, creative and fun environment. 

Fun Fact: While travelling Australia, I worked as a “Mobile Haemoglobin Technician” which might just be the strangest job I’ve ever done. Good though, had car, did travel. #AustraliaRoadTrip 

I’m the founder of 

And you know what, it helped me to appreciate myself and my work, and allowed me to overcome my self-doubt.  It allowed me to know how much I have achieved in my WorkLife. It allowed me to recognise the WorkLife I have created, a WorkLife that is true to who I am. It allowed me to know I am living the WorkLife of my dreams and aspirations, true to my values, purpose and passion. It allowed me to recognise my potential, and how much I have to offer to people in helping them realise their potential to live a WorkLife that is fulfilling to them. It allowed me to recognise that I am already achieving so much of my:

WorkLife Mission

To spread the power of WorkLives lived with Passion, Purpose, and Pride by creating continuous WorkLife development programmes that are accessible to everyone.” 

It allows me to know that this book will support me in striving towards achieving my mission more fully. 

All of this allows me to know that this book is actually good, in that it is the best of me, the best I can give. Of course I still do not know how it will be perceived when it goes out into the world. Will people think it is good? I have no way of knowing this for sure. I just know it is something I need to do, something I want to do, something I want to test and try, because this is the only way I will ever know.

Thanks to the request to write my biography I have come to appreciate who I am and how much I have to give and to support people though my work. I was able to overcome my self-doubt. In the same way I was able to help Joe in recognising how much he had to offer in his work to potential employers, and overcome his self-doubt, this request allowed me to do the same for myself. That old adage I so believe in, coming to the fore once again: ‘When the student is ready, the teacher will come.’ For Joe, I was the teacher; for me, it was the request to write my biography, which brought about the teaching that was needed.

Develop Your WorkLife Story

The more you know yourself and the more you know your value, the more you can trust in yourself that you are good enough.

Writing Your Biography Assignment 

One of the fastest and surest ways to feel good about yourself is to understand how your WorkLife fits into the big picture.

Choose one of the following two ways to do this:

1. Look at job descriptions for roles you could apply for.

Reality check what you already have that would allow you to apply for this role, by considering how you fit, and what makes you a good fit.

2. Think of an organisation you would like to become a voluntary member of, which would allow you to contribute your knowledge, skills, experience in making a positive impact.

Whichever option you choose, imagine you have to write a biography as to why you consider yourself to be a good candidate for this position.

Now write your biography. Keep it between 250 – 300 words. This is sufficient to present the best of yourself succinctly.

The Moral of this Story

Whether you are at a later stage of your WorkLife or you are at the beginning of doing something new, looking inside yourself, looking at your own history, and using this to appreciate how much you have to offer in your WorkLife will help you to overcome any self-doubts that creep in. 

Develop a Practice of Continuous Self-Feedback

Your WorkLife is ever evolving and you are evolving with it. Continuous self-feedback is important in informing you as to how you are doing, and to keep you moving forward.

Develop a Practice of Insightful Self-Questioning

In the knowledge that you have the answers within you, it is good practice to regularly consider what you have not asked yourself that is important for you to know and to be aware of. The following questions will help your understanding:

Do I have everything I need to be successful?

If yes, what am I going to do next?

If no, how can I get it?

Words of Wisdom

Own who you are and remember you are more than enough. 

© Carmel O’ Reilly 2019 First published 2019 by WorkLife Incorporated

Feel free to publish an excerpt from this chapter, wherever you like. Your blog, your book, your newsletter. It’s all good. 

Just use my full name and kindly link back to my website: You’ll find my bio right here: Thank you. Be Well and Stay Safe.

Published by Carmel O' Reilly

I’m Carmel O’ Reilly, Founder of I’m the author Your WorkLife Your Way, blogger and podcaster on the subject of WorkLife. My work focuses on helping people to live their best WorkLives, by managing their learning, development and growth, through effective self-feedback, insightful self-questions and the ability to shape and tell their unique story. My Mission is: “To spread the power of WorkLives lived with Passion, Purpose and Pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes that are accessible to everyone.”

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