The One Thing Stopping You From Achieving Your Dreams
10 Steps to Mastering Self-Confidence
Self-confidence is the difference in those who have and those who don’t. It’s not about who wanted it or deserved it. It’s about who believed it was theirs and who worked to make that belief a reality. The truth is, our dreams don’t come falling into our laps and knocking on our own doors, and they don’t even come when we go out knocking on doors ourselves. Our dreams come to fruition when, and only when, we have the audacity — the self-confidence — to create those doors for ourselves.
But self-confidence is hard, and most of us are lacking it, whether we know it or not. We live in a self-crafted world where our dreams and goals are reserved for “other” people, and we’re constantly telling ourselves we aren’t good enough, smart enough, rich enough, fit enough, savvy enough to achieve the things we want to achieve.
As long as we continue down this path, our self-crafted worldview is correct: our dreams are reserved for those “others” who believe in themselves.
The good news is, we don’t have to stay in that mindset. With 10 steps, some intention, and applied consistency, you can master your self-confidence and get on the road to re-crafting your worldview and reaching your goals.
1. Sit straight, chin up.
What’s your posture like right now? Drop your shoulders, exhale, sit up, and tilt your chin slightly up. How does that feel? Sometimes, just the slightest adjustments in our posture can change our mood and mindset. You don’t have to walk around looking physically arrogant, but you also don’t have to shrink yourself and keep your eyes focused on the floor.
Look up. Walk straight and tall. If you can’t make an effort to do the little things, how do you expect yourself to do the big things? Take pride in the way you carry your body physically, because that carries over to your mentality, too.
2. Make a mirror note.
Leaving yourself positive affirmations and reminders that, “hey, you can do this,” is a simple and effective way to not only start your day from a place of confidence, but a way to engrain a mantra in your mind and begin to really rewire the things you tell yourself.
I’m not talking about something cheesy, like, “you look great today!” Although, if that works for you, go for it. It doesn’t work for me, though, because I don’t always believe it, and it also sends me a message that how I look should be the determinant of how my day is going to go.
What about a deeper, more significant message, like the one I currently have scribbled in dry-erase ink on my bathroom mirror, “All you can be is all you can be.” It reminds me that everyday, I am simply asked to be the best “me” I can be, and nothing else. I also have “show up” on my full-length mirror. Messages like these enforce the message that a) you are already enough and b) you need only show up as yourself. This is the pathway to self-confidence.
3. Learn to genuinely say, “Thank you.”
When someone compliments you on a presentation, an article, a new project or simply the way you’re dressed, do you bashfully accept their kindness, maybe even say something to belittle it like, “Oh, it really wasn’t a big deal but thanks.”
Stop. Say, “Thank you,” and mean it. Really, truly, mean it. Learn to absorb compliments, and let them really take hold in your mind and heart. Quit brushing them off, belittling your accomplishments, or trying to act like you’re not excited to hear something positive about your work. Say thanks, genuinely, and mark it down as a win.
4. Help someone, even when they don’t ask.
Extending a helping hand feels good. It not only makes us feel needed, it makes us feel that we are contributing members of the world, a social circle, or an organization, and that contribution triggers a mental stimulation of confidence. Because if we can be there for someone, if we can do someone a favor or provide someone a service without them even asking us or paying us to do it, we matter, right?
Mattering is a huge piece of the confidence puzzle. So whether that means holding the door for someone, washing the dishes that aren’t yours, offering to carry a box for someone or giving someone directions — help someone.
5. Ask for help.
The flipside of helping others is coming down from your high horse and being brave and honest enough with yourself to be the one needing help. Ask. For. Help. I cannot stress this enough. For too long now, we have associated assistance with weakness, but if you think about it, it’s — in a way — one of the greatest forms of strength, and most men can’t do it. (Women, too, but men typically have more trouble with the “looking weak” battle.)
Asking for help requires that you be honest with yourself, first and foremost. Next, it requires that you become vulnerable, meaning you display this apparent sign of “weakness” to the world. How can this lead to improved self-confidence?
If you can practice asking for help, and get to the point where you no longer feel that sting of weakness and shame, you’ve reached a level of confidence many of us never will. Because many of us will be too proud to admit when we need help, and though pride and confidence may seem related, pride is actually the antithesis of self-confidence. Self-confidence requires acknowledgement and acceptances of our weaknesses. Pride would never dare step into this territory.
If you’re struggling with self-confidence, be sure your pride isn’t in the way, first.
6. Set 3 daily intentions every morning.
This is a crossover into the productivity realm, but turns out, productivity fuels our self-confidence. So why not kill two birds with one stone?
When you wake up in the morning, make a list of 3 intentions for the day. I’m carefully not using the word goals because I feel its connotation is a bit lofty, and also, this one is more about being than doing.
Your intentions should be things like “be kind,” “be grateful,” “smile more,” “make positive choices” or “stay engaged.” They should be broad, not task-focused, and they should intertwine into most parts of your day. They might remain the same from day to day — regardless, bring yourself back to them each morning, and then again at the end of your day to see how you did. Setting intentions for your day focuses you, but it also allows you to feel a sense of accomplishment everyday regardless of your work or home life. You are in charge of these things, and they can happen irrespective of your circumstances.
Accomplishment breeds self-confidence. Set those intentions daily, and make a habit of reaching them to give yourself a consistent and easy spike of accomplishment.
7. Give yourself some credit.
How often do you acknowledge the hard things you’ve done? Or even the things you don’t consider to be “hard” but were accomplishments nonetheless?
Take time to recognize yourself for your accomplishments and contributions, and don’t limit this recognition to only certain performing environments of your world. Besides recognizing the ways in which you’re a good worker o boss, pat yourself on the back (and mean it!) for the ways that you’re a good parent, friend, coach, artist, sister, brother, role model.
Give yourself credit for the good things you do, the time you spend, and the efforts you make. Big or small — they’re worth celebrating.
8. Celebrate someone else’s success.
Not only is it important to celebrate your own accomplishments, it’s important to take time to celebrate other people’s accomplishments. This can be particularly troublesome for many of us (me included) because we tend to believe there isn’t room for everyone to succeed. We’re afraid that by celebrating another person’s victory, we’re removing the potential for the spotlight to be on us.
The spotlight is unlimited and abundant. We can all shine at the same time, and not only that, but we have the opportunity to shine brighter when we illuminate others. Just like asking for help, shouting out someone else for their greatness is a form of pushing our pride to the side — a terribly difficult thing to do, unfortunately — which makes way for self-confidence to come through.
It may seem counterintuitive that to better believe in yourself, you have to support someone else, but when we show our admiration for another’s work, we are subconsciously sending a message of confidence in our own work. We’re giving ourselves permission to be comfortable with another’s success so that we can lose the jealousy and get back to making things that matter, things we can be proud of and confident in.
9. Think less, do more.
So many times, our self-confidence gets killed in the 5 seconds we spend analyzing the potential negative outcomes of a situation. We’re faced with a decision, confronted with a new and unknown experience, and rather than acting on it and taking charge, we sit back and consider the risks and almost always let them win.
We need to think less and do more. We need to stop wondering if it’s going to work and being afraid of what will happen if it doesn’t, and just get out there and do it. Confidence will stem from both outcomes: if we succeed, we’re proud of our success, and if we don’t get the desired results, we learn resilience and gain access to new strategies for next time.
Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.
10. Be always learning.
The more you know, the more you can do. And the more you can do, the more access to self-confidence you have. Despite what we may believe, self-confidence does not come from what we already know but from what we are willing to learn.
Make no mistake — the more learning situations you can put yourself in, the more self-confidence you will gain. Hands down. No questions asked. Acquiring knowledge requires that we venture into feeling uncomfortable and then experience the resolve of this discomfort. That resolve is the consequence of personal effort. What could be more rewarding and boosting to our self-confidence than being personally responsibly for not only being brave enough to get lost, but wise enough to find our way back?
Be always learning, though it be scary and uncomfortable, the flipside is so incredibly worthy — an undeniable sense of self-confidence.