86% of UK women haven’t turned their childhood ambition into their dream career. Don’t let fear hold you back, says Karren Brady

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Did you become the astronaut/ ballerina/ brain surgeon you aspired to be when you were seven? Clearly our dreams often change when we grow up, but if you’re still fantasising about flying that plane or opening your own shop, you’re not the only one. Recent research by Pantene  revealed that 76% of us would seize the chance to realise our childhood ambitions or attain our dream role, but 22% of us would need a confidence boost to get us out of the blocks. Pantene #ShineStrong  ambassador Karren CBE has a few words of wisdom to inspire you…

Ambition isn’t the problem, it’s anxiety

“Women’s ambition matches men’s but they often think about things far too deeply. They wonder whether they’re good enough to do the job, whether they’re right. This is what I notice in my organisation- men just whack their CV in without thinking about it whereas women are far more conscientious. Anxiety is a huge confidence killer. If you let go of your anxiety and think that, you haven’t got the job, so if you don’t get the job you haven’t lost anything! Having a much more positive way of looking at it is often very helpful”

Ditch doubt- confidence is crucial

“Confidence comes from knowledge. If you know what you’re good at and you know how to communicate it, and you know what you want, then you can start to build confidence, and confidence also starts to breed ambition. When you realise you’re good at something you start to feel more ambitious about promotions, why aren’t you running the floor? Why aren’t you running the company? And so on. Confidence is the key”

“I think it’s really important to remember the things you’ve done really well and keep a note of all of the contributions you’ve made. When you come to have your full year appraisal, sometimes it’s very easy to forget some of the significant things that you’ve done within the organisation that have made a really positive difference. Also it’s nice to look back and say “oh yes, I did that”, “I turned that project around”, “someone asked me at the last minute to help them with this and I did that, which shows that I’m resourceful”. Keep a note of what you’ve done and what you want. Knowledge is very important as I’ve said, so be prepared to go beyond your job description and be ready to learn from other people. That often helps you to get noticed too. Networking is really important too”

What to do when things don’t go to plan…

“When projects go wrong, there’s normally a very specific reason and it’s really important to understand what that reason was so that you can learn from it. It’s vital that you talk to people as to why you think it went wrong to get some feedback, but also to demonstrate that you’re willing to learn from your mistakes and willing to put things right. If you’ve understood what the problem was, you won’t repeat the problem again”

Stats sourced from Pantene #ShineStrong UK-wide survey of women and men aged 18-40 (500 women, 500 men)

How have you overcome that lurking fear of failure? Do you have a childhood dream you’re chasing?  Tweet us  or comment below

Keep your eyes peeled for our next 'success' story with Karren, in which she gives tips to mothers, working or otherwise