Building confidence in your finances and career: Lessons from two fitness pros

September 08, 2023

WNBA All-Star Napheesa Collier and Peloton trainer Jess Sims share tips to help you shift your mindset and learn to be more sure of yourself as you’re working toward your goals.

There are some people who seem to know exactly what they’re doing when it comes to their financial life and career, and never waver in their pursuit of a goal. But if you don’t always have that strong sense of confidence, that’s perfectly normal. The reality is that confidence doesn’t come naturally for most of us.

Whether you’re struggling with working toward a financial goal, making a big decision about your finances or taking the next step in your career, approaching the challenge with the right mindset can give you the push you need to get it done.

We checked in with fitness education pro Jess Sims and WNBA All-Star Napheesa Collier to get some of their thoughts on how to shift your mindset and build confidence.

Lean into your past experiences

First and foremost, don’t discredit your past experiences, according to Sims. You’d be surprised by how much of what you’ve done in the past can give you the expertise you need to do whatever you want to accomplish next, even if it doesn’t seem to be connected at first glance.

Sims started her career as a teacher and school administrator and pivoted to a career in fitness later on. But when she first decided to make that switch, the move didn’t come without some hesitation. She admits that she was initially worried about whether making the leap from education to fitness was the right decision.

But after doing some reflection on her career goals and where she’d been up to that point, she was able to see a clear throughline in her interests, passions and experiences: She was always an athlete, playing basketball in both high school and college. And as an elementary school teacher, she incorporated health and wellbeing lessons into her curriculum. She’s always found joy in being able to help other people develop and grow.  These were all values and skills that she was able to bring with her from the classroom to her new fitness career.

“People ask me all the time, do you miss teaching? And I always say no, because I’m still teaching, I’m just teaching a different subject. I’m teaching fitness and wellness to the world,” says Sims.

“For me, it’s gaining confidence from where I’ve been. It’s ‘oh wow, I’ve done this before.’ Maybe not in the exact same way, but I can apply it to this new situation.”

Fake it til you make it.

When it comes to finding success, Collier believes that talent is just 20% of the process, and confidence can get you 80% of the way there. So when you know you have the skills and are still feeling stuck, focus on building confidence – and sometimes, that means just pushing your self-doubts aside and acting like you’re more confident than you really are.

In fact, Collier has experienced this first-hand with her own career. She says she went into training camp her rookie year in the WNBA feeling like she was on the top of her game. She was completely confident in her skills after a successful career as a college basketball player. But as soon as she started WNBA training camp, something changed. Though she knew she had the ability to compete with anyone on the court, she struggled with confidence being a rookie in a league where she was playing alongside of some of the best players in basketball, and her performance suffered. 

So she made a conscious effort to shift her mindset to build her confidence back. And it worked. That season, she went on to win WNBA Rookie of the Year.

How did she make that shift in mindset?

“Fake it til you make it,” says Collier. “Make that decision.”

Sims agrees. She says that one of the best lessons from her mentor when she started in teaching told her to never let her students know that she was a first-year teacher.

“At that time, I was 22 years old with fifth graders,” she says. ”And they would say, ‘Miss, you

look young! How many years have you been teaching?,’ and I’d say ‘Longer than you’ve been alive.’ Because, you know, fake it til you make it.  I don’t know if they believed it because I had some tough days teaching, but I chose that confidence. Confidence doesn’t just find you.”

The power of positive self-talk

Engaging in positive self-talk can go a long way toward building a more confident mindset. Talk to yourself like you’d talk to a friend. Try not to dwell on your weaknesses and failures. Think about the things you’ve done well, and what you can build on to continue that momentum.

“You have ebbs and flows of confidence. And when I get into those lows, I used to be a really bad critic to myself. That’s something I’ve been trying to be better with,” says Collier.

Use words of affirmation when it comes to your self-talk, she suggests.

“When you’re mean to yourself in your head, it adds more pressure. You don’t want to fake it til you make it forever – you want to get there and make it at some point,” she says with a laugh.

Making basic changes to your physical environment can help shift your mindset too.

“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve recognized that going for a walk or listening to music can be so beneficial,” says Collier. “Going outside always amplifies my mood. It’s just something as simple as that. Just recognizing when you get in those slumps helps you get out of them so much faster than when you’re wallowing in whatever down spiral you’re in.”

When you’re not feeling so sure of yourself, sometimes you just need to make an active decision to choose to be confident, and that can go a long way toward nudging you along on the path toward reaching your goals.

“For me, confidence is something that’s constantly evolving,” says Sims. “I think that being confident is a decision. I’m going to flip the switch, and I’m going to do my best and show up as my best self. And that’s going to be enough.”

Learn more about U.S. Bank’s role in helping women build financial confidence as a WNBA Changemaker.

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