Do you crave to be valued by your colleagues and managers? Do you constantly want to hear the words nice job, well done, and thank you? Do you get frustrated when it seems like your hard work goes unnoticed and all anyone cares about is what you did wrong and what you need to do the next time to improve?
If so, you’re not alone. We all crave external validation from others to feel good about ourselves. It’s something we often do without being conscious of it. We think, “I wish he’d just give me more recognition and appreciation.” Or: “I wish she’d just say ‘thank you’ once in a while.” Or: “If they didn’t notice it, or if they didn’t appreciate it, then what did I even do it for?” Sometimes, we even start to question our own skills and abilities when we don’t receive external validation.
In the workplace, telling each other how great we are and celebrating our accomplishments isn’t something that happens too often. So, if you only feel valued when someone else tells you you’re valuable, you’re going to constantly be waiting for something that might never come—and when you don’t get it, you’ll feel like you're not enough. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
It's also true that external validation might not help, either. Sometimes, when I’ve been told by others that I did a great job, I find my brain dismissing it, thinking, “Nah, it wasn’t that big of a deal, I was just doing my job.” Or: “They’re just saying that to be nice.” That is, I didn’t believe the appreciation was genuine, so it didn’t make me feel valued anyway.
In other words, even external validation and other people’s kind words can’t give you the feeling of being valued if you don’t believe that your contribution was actually valuable. The truth is feeling valued is something you create within yourself—not by what people around you say or don’t say, do or don’t do. Your colleagues and managers can’t make you feel good about your work if you don’t feel good about it. In fact, it’s no one’s job but yours to make you feel valued.
So to help you perform this job, start to ask yourself the following questions, especially when you find yourself questioning your self-worth.
Am I happy with the work I’ve done?
What was the most difficult part of a particular project I completed and how did I figure it out?
Did I do my absolute best?
Did I get the result that I wanted?
Am I happy with the results?
Am I proud of the work I’ve done?
When you get used to asking and answering these questions, you’ll come to see that feeling valued is entirely available to you at any moment—without a single word or gesture from anyone else.
You'll also come to see that learning how to be confident in your own ability regardless of external feedback is the catalyst to having an unstoppable career. Otherwise, you’ll be spending your time waiting around for someone else’s approval, and that won’t allow you to grow and progress.
In fact, one of the most effective ways to start realizing your own value is to tell amazing stories about yourself and the work you’ve done—not just to your managers or your interviewers but also to yourself. These stories will attract your dream job and show you how valuable you really are.
Natalie Fisher is best known for helping professionals land their dream jobs and achieve explosive salary growth (even with little experience). If your goal is to advance your career, then you’ll want to check out The Ultimate Guide to Situational Based Interviewing. The example interview stories collected in this guide will help increase your credibility and effectively communicate your value in interviews. It includes fill-in-the-blank templates for you to fill in your own stories, as well as 25 questions to ask yourself to help you find the stories you want to tell in your next interview. You can get a copy of the guide here.
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