Unlike talent, confidence is a skill that anyone can learn. We may or may not have certain talents, and we can work to improve particular talents, but for the most part you either have a talent or you don’t. Skills are different. Skills are a like a muscle that can be developed over time. Confidence is a skill that can be learned at any age and in any socioeconomic situation. Confidence is one of the most important keys to building a successful personal and professional life. If this is a weak spot for you like it has been for me, here’s how you can get started.
1. FIND YOUR BASELINE
You need to know where you’re starting from. We are often blind to our weak areas. I was a very outgoing and competitive kid. I made sports teams and won contests, so many people assumed that I was confident. I even assumed I was confident. It wasn’t until I got divorced that I realized I wasn’t confident at all. Sometimes something very negative has to happen to get your attention and make you look at yourself clearly. Divorce was that event for me. I felt like a failure, a loser, a quitter and a terrible mother. That was when I realized I wasn’t confident and I took a closer look at why. How can I be so hard on myself? Why am I talking to myself like this? That started me down a new road which has vastly improved my life. Sometimes we really need to fail in order to see what’s holding us back. Try to be as honest as possible in your assessment of your confidence level. It’s easier to chart where you’re going and how much progress you need to make if you know where you’re starting from.
2. FOCUS ON YOUR STRENGTH
We all have one. If you’re not sure what your strength is, ask a good friend to point it out to you. I promise you that it’s there. It might be your warm smile or your empathetic ear. Identify yours and appreciate it as your Superpower. Remember all the times your Superpower has given you strength and allowed you to rise above. Think of all the times you’ve succeed while doing something you’re good at. You have that confidence inside you already. Build off that and get the ball rolling.
3. BE GRATEFUL
Write down three things that you are grateful for each day. The more time we spend focused on what we are grateful for instead of dwelling on what we’re lacking the better we feel about ourselves and the faster our perspective in life changes for the better. Things are never as bad as they seem.
4. IT’S TEMPORARY
When you hit a rough patch, remind yourself that life is like an ocean. There are times where you’re riding high on a beautiful wave and times when that wave comes crashing down. The important thing to remember is that life is a cycle and you will inevitably get back up on that wave again. If you need some occasional help, keep a snapshot of the ocean on your desk to remind you.
5. LISTEN TO YOUR INNER VOICE
I used to think confidence was all about winning, but that’s not how it works. If I win or lose, that is just another life experience. It’s the act of taking a chance and doing something that you want to do when you know there is a chance of failing. Confidence is having the courage to know you’re enough regardless of your bank balance, hair color or child’s report card. Confidence is feeling good about yourself in spite of those things. I’ve learned that if I listen to my intuition and then act on it I will build confidence in myself. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to get what I want or win every time. I won’t, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is being true to myself and who I am. Don’t shut yourself out or silence your desires. When was the last time you listened to your intuition and acted on it?
6. BE YOUR BEST YOU
Take care of yourself. I don’t mean that you have to focus on looks. I mean put yourself first. Women often have a hard time doing this. They feel guilty putting themselves before their loved ones. If you don’t workout, sleep, meditate, relax or do whatever special things you need to do for you, you won’t be the best version of yourself. When you’re not your best version of yourself you can’t do things for others. In a way, it’s actually selfless to take great care of yourself because it allows you to be more present for your family and friends. You will also feel better, which is a natural way to build confidence. What are the things that make you feel good? Write them down. Do those things every day. Make yourself a priority in your life. No excuses.
7. YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT
No one is perfect. If you find someone who is trying to give the impression of being perfect, RUN! Those are the least confident and most insecure people. After turning 40, I’ve learned that the people who put up a front have a lot to hide. By letting the world see your flaws and imperfections, you boost your confidence and accept yourself. It also draws others closer to you. We are all flawed and there is beauty in those flaws. We just have to get to a place where you can appreciate them. #workinprogress
Just like working out at the gym, we need to train multiple times a week to get results. Confidence is no different. Put yourself in the best position for success. That means practicing, researching and preparing for whatever it is that you’re trying to do. If you need to make a presentation at work, preparing at home the night before will boost your confidence in that meeting the next day. If you’re nervous about a social situation, researching the best conversation starters and trending hot topics will help you feel better prepared. Whatever the situation, you will feel more confident going in if you prepare and practice. You can’t control the outcome, but you can rest easy knowing that you did everything possible to prepare.
9. FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT
This is a standby and it works. If you stand up tall, make eye contact, deliberately shake hands, smile and put on your best superhero gear you automatically appear like a confident person. Whether you have it or not in that moment is irrelevant because it appears like you do. People treat you different when they think that you’re confident. If I’m given an opportunity at work that I’m not prepared for, I always take it and try to figure it out on my way. If there is a challenge or opportunity that I’m interested in, I go for it even when I don’t have the confidence that I can do it. Confidence is built during preparation and in taking the chance. That’s when I realize that I can make it work. This may seem like backwards logic, but I promise you that it works.
10. GIVE BACK
It doesn’t have to be a big donation or a time-consuming gesture. It can be something small, like being polite by holding a door. This makes you realize that you are capable of bringing value to others. This can be a powerful realization. If you’re feeling low, try helping someone else out. Listen to their problems. They will appreciate you for that. Those confidence builders pop up around us every day. You’re the one who has to take the initiative and go after them. Work the confidence muscle daily and watch it grow!
Excerpted from Confidence Creator by Heather Monahan. Copyright © 2018 by Heather Monahan. Reprinted by permission of Boss In Heels Publishing Company. All rights reserved.