A popular piece of career advice that people give to someone who is feeling lost and insecure about their careers is: "Why don't you get a mentor?"
I mean, if you have someone in your network that wants to offer their personal advice to you for free and on their own time, then congratulations. But that doesn't necessarily mean that it is the solution to your problems. A solution usually has to start from within - hence why becoming your own mentor is not a bad option. I'll explain to you why that is - right after we cover what being a "mentor" actually means.
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What is a mentor?
A mentor is an experienced and trusted advisor. A mentor guides you and helps you conquer challenges. They ask the right questions and give you that extra push when you are feeling insecure.
Sounds kind of awesome, right?
Though finding a mentor can be difficult and expensive. It is rare to find a person that is willing to give you their time and advice for free. Unless your mentor is a family member or a good friend. Though I would watch out for getting a person that’s close to you as a mentor. They tend to be biased and not give the best advice for you in particular.
Mentorship is cool - but it can be pricey and hard to find the mentor right for you. So why ask someone else when you can become your own mentor?
How to mentor your own damn self
When working towards achieving a goal or fulfilling a dream - the process can be intimidating and scary. You might doubt yourself - and that is completely normal. The main difference between mentoring yourself and being mentored by someone else. It is that when you are mentoring yourself everything needs to come from.. yeah you guessed it.. it has to come from - you!
First you need to ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing and where you are trying to go. Set up some goals and make a plan on how to get there. Check out this blog post to create your career roadmap.
Most likely you have not tried to achieve said goal before so it is only natural that you are doubting yourself. You start asking yourself questions like:
"Am I skilled enough? Do I have all the right connections? How can I land that job with 500 other applicants? Nah I can’t do it!"
But you can! You have to gain that self belief that you can do it and start writing your own story. No mentor in the world can do that for you. Hence why you are lucky that you hired yourself and not wasted time and money in finding anybody else to do the work.
How to gain self belief?
Self belief is also known as confidence. The belief that you are able to accomplish things. How can you build that confidence? It’s easy - by getting things done and gaining experience.
This is actually a neurological thing. When we learn how to solve a problem our brain remembers how we did it - and we can do it again, and again.
An example is when you were in elementary school trying to figure out 1+1=?. You might have had a hard time getting it right the first time, and even the 10th time. But soon enough you cracked the equation that 1+1=2. The next math class your brain remembered how you did it. And you were able to apply that knowledge again and again to more advanced problems.
A climber gains more and more confidence with each mountain top he reaches. Confidence in careers works the exact same way.. or without the actual mountain climbing.
Secret sauce to success
Start setting up mini goals that you are pretty sure you’ll be able to achieve. Every mini goal you manage to tick off your list will leave you with a feeling of a stronger self belief and accomplishment. And that my friend will be your secret sauce to success as it will contribute to your experience and your story. Your brain will remember how you solved the problem and will not be as intimidated as the first time you faced it.
My last tip when mentoring yourself is to stay focused. It is natural to feel lost, get side tracked and to fail. If you stay focused you are more likely to avoid these things. Also, just because you are your own mentor that doesn’t mean you have to do everything on your own. If there is a specific matter you need help with, go get that expert help. YouTube and Google can get you a long way - but so can someone elses feedback and expertise. But since you are your own mentor you decide what to do with that feedback.
To summarize this blog post.. To become your own mentor you gotta make a plan, build that confidence by setting realistic goals and stay focused. And there is nothing wrong in asking for help but keep in mind - there is no better experience to learn from than your own.