Photo by Eorde Williams

Three Techniques for Building Your Confidence

Why is it that so many of us doubt our own abilities?  Believe you me, I have been there myself: it wasn’t until I was nearly finished with graduate school coursework that I started speaking up in class.  Until you own your excellence, you will continue to doubt yourself and perhaps stop yourself from taking on new challenges that you most certainly could accomplish. If you are always afraid of saying something stupid or doing something stupid you may not even be willing to try new things.

Confidence is something that can be learned. Becoming more confident can make you more successful.  Success breeds success, adding to your sense of confidence.  This creates a powerful inextricably linked cycle of success, confidence, success.

Confidence comes from real, solid achievements, which no one can take from you.  This is not the same as self-esteem, which may be built on nothing more solid than nice words said about you.   Solid achievements are built upon a “can do” mindset.  In other words, start saying to yourself each time a new opportunity arises, “I can do this,” and let go of any negative thoughts about failing.  Envision success instead.

One way to get in a positive mindset is to look back on your life and identify past achievements.  It doesn’t have to be job related:  Did you successfully raise children? Volunteer to chair a committee at school or at church? Buy a house on a shoestring? Learn to play an instrument for fun? Come up with a solution to a scheduling problem? Join an adult soccer team? Every one of these things is an accomplishment. Your achievements don’t have to be ‘life-altering.’  Even small achievements are still achievements.

1) So, get yourself a notebook, and create an “Achievement Log.”   You can do this today.  Start your log by identifying at least ten things you have accomplished in your life so far.  Here are some more suggestions: Think about the tests you have passed, the times where you did something that made a difference in someone else’s life, or any tasks or projects you completed.  Once you get started you might find it hard to stop at ten!

Put your Achievements Log somewhere you can look at it often.  Commit to looking at your list of achievements each week, reminding yourself of the success you have already experienced.  Sit up straight while reading and your posture will send your brain success messages, too. The log can be a reminder of what you are capable of and what is yet to come.  You can celebrate what you accomplished in the past week and grow your list of successes by adding new ones.  Tip: if you are feeling down, re-reading the log can be a great way to lift your spirits.

2) As you create your log, think as well about the personal strengths you have exhibited in your accomplishments.   If it’s difficult for you to look at yourself objectively and recognize your strengths, try placing yourself in the shoes of a friend or family member.  What strengths would these people see in you?  What would they consider your talents to be?  As you identify your strengths, make sure you take the time to really acknowledge them. Is it easy for you to be organized while people around you remain scattered?  This is a natural strength.  Enjoy a few minutes of being proud and reflecting on your talents.

3) Next, think about the things that are really important to you, and what you want to achieve in every area your life: Work, personal life, social life, health and fitness, and anything else that is important to you. Make sure you add some deadlines to keep yourself on track. Setting and achieving goals is a key part of building and sustaining confidence.

When you have set your goals, fear, doubt and uncertainty may rear their ugly heads.  At this stage, you need to manage your mind.  Learn to recognize any negative self-talk and replace it with confidence building talk, such as “I have already achieved much, and I can do more.”  “I can use my knowledge to help myself, my colleagues and my family.” Make a clear and unequivocal promise in your mind that you are absolutely committed to achieving your goals, and that it is in your power to do so.

Building your confidence is a process. I am still building my own on a daily basis.  Applying these principles will help your sense of confidence to grow, and therefore your success.