A lesson in self-confidence
Self-confidence is a trait that can feel elusive. Some seem blessed to have it while others, unfortunately, do not. We may often wonder if maybe some lucky people are just born confident. While this may be true for some, the good news is that we can all become self-confident if we are willing to work at it. There is one thing required though... taking action.
You must take action to become more confident.
It is by taking steps towards your goals, even if they are small steps, that you will start to notice that you really can achieve your goals. It may not be easy, it may not be quick, but by getting started you will start to trust yourself to be someone that will figure it out. It is that inner knowing that you can rely on yourself that will boost your self-confidence.
When I reflect on my own life journey, I realise I wasn’t always the self-confident person I am today. In fact, in my twenties, I had quite a few fears. I was afraid of rejection, afraid of looking foolish, afraid of failure, and the list goes on. What changed for me over the years was not letting the fear win. I decided I was going to go after the things I wanted because the alternative (e.g. wondering what if) just wasn’t appealing. So, I bought my first condo, got off the sofa and started running (from 5k to marathons), made the biggest move of my life overseas from the US to the UK, and started a business. Was I scared? Absolutely... but I moved ahead anyway. When I look at who I am today I can now say I am a confident person. The reason for this confidence is that I learned that I can trust myself to follow my heart and go after what I want in life.
3 steps to find your self-confidence
So, I challenge you to find your own self-confidence. Here is a simple framework you can follow.
1. Do a life brainstorm
This is where you identify what you want in your life. Think big. It may feel overwhelming at first, but you need to have a sense of what you want to achieve (and why you want to achieve it) before you start taking action. So, clear your mind, get a blank piece of paper, and write a list of all the things you want out of life. Don’t overthink and worry about how you will achieve them - just focus on the things that make you fulfilled. Once you have the list, organise it by themes and group the goals related to each theme. For example, you may have a career as a theme and goals such as having work/life balance, having meaningful work, and continually learning as goals related to career.
2. Assess where you are today
Looking at the life brainstorm, review each theme and score it between one and ten. The purpose of this exercise is to show you:
a) What you have already accomplished in your life. We often neglect to give ourselves credit for what we have done in the past. It is important to recognise that you have already done some great things in life, even if you still want to do even more.
b) What you still want to accomplish. Look at the themes that you scored lower. These may be the areas of your life that are making you feel unfulfilled and therefore less confident.
3. Build a confidence plan
This is where you go from thinking big (from step one) to thinking small. The key to the confidence plan is to create small, actionable steps. People commonly get overwhelmed when they have a big goal in front of them. This can lead to overthinking. For example, suppose you realise in looking at your life brainstorm that career is an area you want to improve. You may decide that you want to start your own business. While this is where your heart is telling you to go, your head gets in the way.
What if I fail? How will I make enough money? I don’t even know a thing about how to start... and so on and so on.
This “analysis paralysis” is what ends up stopping many people in taking action towards their aspirations. By creating a plan with small steps, it is easier to move forward. Using the example of starting a business, a first step could be to talk to people that have started similar businesses. A second step could be to take a course in setting up a business. The smaller the better, because they will be achievable and keep you moving along.
By following this framework you will start to become someone who takes action when you want something in your life. You will begin to see progress as you complete the small steps you set out, and as a result, feel more accomplished. This sense of accomplishment and knowing you can achieve your goals will help you to believe in yourself. This self-belief is what builds self-confidence.
So what are you waiting for? Take that first step forward towards the life you want. You won’t regret it.
In the words of Mark Twain, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sail. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
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