I recently started a self-improvement series I like to call 10 Little Things: because the biggest changes in life have to start somewhere small. This week, I'm focusing on a self-care topic that seems to go overlooked quite often-- self-advocacy.
The simple definition of self-advocacy is "the act or condition of representing oneself", but I think the true meaning of this phrase goes a little deeper. Being your own advocate means being honest with yourself, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, and generally being your own biggest fan. NO ONE is going to be able to help you grow if you're not willing to help yourself. A little self-love and motivation goes a long way when it comes to self-improvement. Read on for 10 Little Things you can do to start being your own advocate.
1. Be big enough to admit when you've messed up...
When things go wrong--whether it's a bad grade or a bad argument--it's not always someone else's fault. Excuses are never going to get you anywhere. Being aware of your own mistakes and shortcomings will benefit you more in the long run.
2. ...but stand up for yourself when you know you haven't!
Sometimes the hardest thing in the world is to defend yourself--especially when it's to a friend. It's okay to forgive and forget, but it's not okay to let others walk all over you. Know your worth.
3. Do ONE scary thing a day.
At least. Your comfort zone is something you should always aim to expand. It can be as simple as forcing yourself to talk on the phone or as challenging as introducing yourself at a networking event. Embrace the uncomfortable! You'll feel pretty kick-ass.
4. Practice your "Elevator Pitch".
If you haven't heard of this before, now's your chance.This should be something that's always in your back-pocket! An elevator pitch is a 30 second summary of yourself--your major, your career aspirations, your interests, etc.--that you use to talk to professionals. You never know when you're going to have an opportunity to make a new contact. Be prepared to sell yourself!
5. On that note, don't sell yourself short.
You are smarter and more capable than you think you are, trust me. If you don't brag about yourself (at least a little) to employers, who's going to?
6. Learn the art of eye contact.
In today's digital world, the confidence to look directly in someone's eyes during a conversation does NOT go unnoticed! It can be kind of uncomfortable at first if you're not used to it, but it is a quick and easy way to start feeling like a real professional.
7. Have a PROPER handshake.
There is nothing worse than having a "dead-fish" handshake when you're trying to make a good first impression. Whoever you are introducing yourself to will NOT forget it. Firm, 2 shakes. Trust me on this.
8. Kick self-deprecating jokes to the curb.
I've written about this particular topic before, but it's worth reiterating. You won't realize how much of an effect this is having on your confidence until you actively choose not to use it. Don't take yourself TOO seriously, but know when to stop making fun of yourself.
9. Dress for success.
This doesn't necessarily mean wearing heels daily--it means dressing for the YOU you want to be. Find out what makes you feel polished and comfortable and strive to incorporate it into your daily wardrobe.
10. Celebrate the little victories.
Every step forward--no matter how small--is a step in the right direction. Be proud of yourself for what you've already accomplished!