Ever look at someone and think, “Wow – they’re so together – they really know what they’re doing and where they’re going!” They seem so secure and self-assured, right?
Yup, they’ve got confidence. And we all want this. We want to feel confident and exude it; send a signal that we’re comfortable and assured in whatever we set out to do.
But so often we’re stepping into new experiences in life, what then? How are we supposed to be confident within ourselves, when what we might really feel is fear or anxiety or uncertainty about what we’re doing?
Here’s the good news: confidence isn’t something you’re born with you so you either have it or you don’t. No, confidence is learned and can be continually boosted over time.
How to increase your confidence3
Here are five simple steps to help you build and expand your core confidence so that no matter what you’re facing in life you can handle it with grace and poise.
1.) Review past lessons.
One of the reasons we are filled with self-doubt rather than confidence – particularly when we’re confronted with a new challenge – is because we immediately recall past situations that didn’t go well. Where we fell short or failed at what we set out to do. We’ve all been there – that negative voice just starts playing over and over, “Remember when you screwed that up? You’re gonna do it again with this situation.”
That voice can be loud and fill you with fear, robbing you of your confidence. But you can quiet it and your anxiety by asking yourself, “What did I learn from that situation?” Review the lesson. We’ve all fallen flat on our face at some point in our lives – the trick is to see those failures for what they really are: experiences for us to learn and grow. So when that voice kicks in and starts depleting your confidence, take a deep breath and look at it a different way. “Yes, I failed before, but I learned a lesson and now I know better.” It’s true – remember that you’re wiser for going through that experience and you can apply your learning to the new one you’re facing.
2.) Point to past success.
After reviewing past failures and the lessons learned, the next step is to further pivot your thought process and look at all the success and achievement you’ve had. That’s right – you’ve done lots of things right in life. You’ve conquered plenty of challenges that have been put in your path. So acknowledge that. Point to those events and say, “Yes, that was me. I did it!”
Pay special attention to experiences where you look back and wonder how on earth you handled them. Or situations where you never thought you could deal with what had been thrown your way. Yet in each case you did make it through, you did handle it all, and you came out stronger on the other side.
As Teddy Roosevelt said, “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” So consider that since you’ve had so many past successes, you can have more in the future. Just as you accomplished other goals, you can do the same with any new experience. Use your past success story to remind yourself that you have the tenacity and know-how to take on a new task. You may even start to see the new challenge as an opportunity to add another success story to your life anthology.
3.) Plan and prepare.
When you’re first confronted with a new challenge or opportunity, it’s common to be a little freaked out because you’re unsure how you’ll proceed. The goal may seem too big or out of reach. It may be transpiring quickly. When that happens it can be difficult to focus on the task at hand because you don’t feel ready. The overwhelm of what you need to do combined with fear of failure makes you confused and distracted.
There’s a simple way to move past these feelings. Sit down and write out all the things that need to happen for you to achieve success. Break down the overall goal or challenge into smaller, more manageable steps. Now you have a roadmap for how to reach your destination and as you complete each step along the way you feel more prepared. When you feel prepared you feel confident and ready.
4.) Just do it!
When we fear something in life, it’s usually because it’s new and unknown. To feel comfortable we gravitate towards what we know – the familiar. But something can only become familiar if we try it and get to know it. It’s the same with overcoming your self-doubt. The more familiar you become with facing new challenges, the more confident you’ll be the next time you’re confronted with an unexpected task.
Yes, ultimately it’s all about feeling the fear and doing it anyway. This is a crucial ingredient to building your confidence. It’s only by actually doing something and practicing it that you build confidence. You can review all your past lessons, your past successes, and prepare with a good plan. But until you take action your confidence will simply be a theoretical exercise. To truly build your core confidence, you have to be bold and, (borrowing from the famous Nike slogan), “Just do it!”
This may seem simple, but many of us miss this point. We hold back and wait for the perfect time, the perfect scenario, or the perfect opportunity. Let’s face it – there’s never any “perfect” time. Don’t let waiting for perfect keep you stuck at zero. You don’t get confidence by waiting; you get confidence by doing. And, the more you do something, the more confident you become. Take the leap and move out of your comfort zone – it’s only when you step into the doing of your new experience that core confidence will really build.
5.) Stop to smell the roses.
Now you’ve done what you set out to do and you’re feeling that confidence building inside you. But you’re not done yet. Just as you reviewed past failures and successes at the outset, now is the time to review what you just accomplished. Pause to acknowledge your courage and your success so you can reinforce the foundation of the core confidence you’re developing.
Essentially, you are taking an inventory of what you’ve done and what it took for you to really embrace it and step into it. Too often we worry and fret over doing something, then we finally do it, and instead of celebrating the moment, we shrug and say, “Okay, that wasn’t so bad…onto the next thing.” Don’t do that. Don’t allow the success to go by without honoring it and yourself. Give yourself a pat on the back; savor and revel in the moment!
What are you worrying about doing? What self-doubt is playing havoc with your confidence? What new experience or project is causing you anxiety or fear? Don’t let that uncertainty paralyze you in place and keep you stuck. You can be that self-assured person you admire. You can move into the unknown with certainty that you have what it takes to succeed.
Start building your core confidence today: learn from your failures; note your past successes; plan and prepare; step into your new experience and just start doing it. Then celebrate! You just had a major achievement and nothing builds confidence better than that!