I spent much of my life playing it safe. I jumped from company to company, taking jobs that I had little to no passion for because of what they represented: a “respectable” option, and an escape from the last job. So many people around me seemed dissatisfied with their jobs too. Eventually I accepted it as just a fact of life.

I told myself that some people got lucky & found work they loved and that maybe I just wasn’t one of them. I told myself I should be grateful to have a job at all and to stop complaining. I told myself that I couldn’t afford to make the kind of dramatic career change I longed for, both because of the fear of screwing up my resume and becoming unmarketable and because I was literally scared of taking a pay cut, running out of money, and ending right back in the jobs I had been trying to escape.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was constantly undervaluing myself.

There was a little voice inside that told me that I was meant to do more, that I COULD do more. It even suggested ideas sometimes for what that might look like. But I shut it down every time with a long list of reasons why I had to continue down the path I was on, even if it made me unhappy.

I played it safe because deep down I didn’t believe that I could pull it off.

It wasn’t until I started to take small steps towards a more meaningful career that I started to believe in myself.

I realized that the best way to gain confidence was by DOING the thing I was so scared to do — even though I was scared.

Now, in my work with clients, I see a lot of women who undervalue themselves. From where I sit, I can see just how much they’re capable of. But I also remember what it feels like to sit in that place where you just don’t know if you can really pull it off. Where sometimes you feel like a loser even if you look like a success on the outside. (Or the days when you don’t think you’re fooling anyone).

Do you place your own limits on what you think you can have in life? Here are 5 signs that you might be undervaluing yourself:

1) You’re waiting – for things to get better or for someone or something to change.

Rather than taking action you tell yourself that it’s not the right time and/or that whatever you do won’t make a difference.

2) You tell yourself you’re not good enough.

You dismiss what you’re good at and focus on your imperfections. You take your skills for granted and fail to appreciate that not everyone can do what you do.

3) You’re not expressing who you really are.

You’re scared to put yourself out there, whether that means not being honest about your unhappiness with a situation or keeping your dreams a secret because you’re scared of what others might think.

4) You avoid situations where you might fail.

Fear of failure often goes hand in hand with undervaluing yourself. With both, there’s a little voice inside that says, “I can’t do it.” If you only apply for jobs when you’re 100% qualified or you shut yourself down as soon as you start to dream by immediately thinking of all the reasons why your idea won’t work, you’re probably undervaluing yourself.

5) You’re not taking care of yourself.

It sounds obvious, but when you value yourself, you invest time in self-care. If self-care is going by the wayside, it’s a sign to stop and notice what needs to change in your life.

If you see yourself in any of these signs, ask yourself:

  • What do you really, really want?
  • What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
  • What stories are you telling yourself about the reasons why you can’t live your dream life and career?
  • What’s one thing you could do this week to take a small step towards that thing you want so badly?

A version of this post appeared originally on juliehoughton.com



 Julie Houghton is the mom to two girls and a life and career coach who specializes in helping women find the courage to do work they love. As your coach she’s your confidante, visionary, cheerleader, and mentor.Get more tips from Julie and learn about working with her.