I was talking with a friend the other day – I’m not even sure how we got to this topic – but this friend, without batting an eye, told me I “just needed to get more confidence.” Ouch. Where did that come from? But, it is absolutely true. Spot on. I have lots of areas that I do feel pretty confident in and then there are other areas where I just do not. And I guess it showed. That’s a double ouch.
I’ve really tried to do some things this year that make me reach and grow and make me really uncomfortable. I guess at some point I am hoping all this being uncomfortable, stammering around and sweating under the armpits is going to get me somewhere. Apparently, I’m not doing enough. I do know that the more you do things, the better you get, so your confidence also grows. I also know confidence goes an incredibly long way in building personal and business success. This is a muscle that needs strengthening just like your triceps and quads. However, the work to get there is a bit different.
So, let’s talk about that a bit. Here are some ways to build that confidence muscle.
- Worry about Yourself.
I am like some of you out there. I say I don’t care about what people think, but that’s not totally true. I do not care as much as I used to, thank goodness, but a part of me still thinks about it. I have finally come to the realization that there are lots of people out there with lots of different opinions. They will all have different thoughts about you, what you do or don’t do and how you do it. Typically, it doesn’t matter all that much. If you or I are doing what we need to do each day to take care of ourselves, our families, those we love, are doing the right thing, being kind, working hard and minding our own business, does it matter that someone thinks I look stupid on social media? Or doesn’t like this post? Or thinks I am too old to try a new project? Or whatever negative thing that person says or thinks? You and I have no control over what another person thinks and it’s really not our business anyway.
2. Go for It.
Do you have a goal that you think is too high? I’ll be honest right here. I have a goal I’m working on right now that is just “too big for my britches”. It totally makes me doubt myself each and every day. I have another thing I’m working on that is like this giant brick wall in front of me. I know the best thing I can do is hit it head on. Sometimes it doesn’t have to be great big things. Even little things can make us doubt ourselves. When we tackle those little things, though, it feels so darn good! Sometimes it is the thought of the “thing” out there that is worse than the actual “thing”.
When I began practicing law I remember being completely thrown into the fire when I was sent to my first hearing in front of a judge. I think I had been working all of eight days. And I was all alone. I was shaking in my navy blue pumps, but I made it. I did not combust on the spot and I felt like such a rockstar afterwards! I am quite sure I did not sound like a rockstar and that the judge likely took lots of pity on me. But the more I did it the better I got and my confidence just soared.
I’m not saying you have to start doing great big scary things to prove how brave you are. But tackling some of the small things, regardless of how well or how awful you do, helps you boost your confidence.
3. Sit Up Straight.
This may sound like such a little thing, but my mom actually got this one right. If she told me one time to sit up straight, she told me seven million times. Straightening up your posture does miraculous things for your confidence. Really!
Greatist.com notes that you can “catch” yourself slumping whether you’re sitting in a chair or standing, and straighten yourself out. Not only will you probably look more confident to others, “According to research, doing so can lead to more confidence in your own thoughts,”. Open up your chest and keep your head level for best results.
So, if you are feeling a bit low in the self-esteem department, straighten up and stand tall. Looking confident is half the battle sometimes.
You knew I had to bring this in didn’t you? If you are not an exerciser, then you need to be. It is so important for you physically and mentally. When you exercise you get those awesome endorphins and you always feel SO accomplished after any kind of workout. If you are stressed, can’t think clearly, need to sleep better, then you need some exercise. I’m not telling you to jump into Cross Fit or sign up for a marathon, but even just a walk outside can help boost your confidence.
Feeling strong goes a long way to boost self-esteem. There are the physical side effects of being leaner and stronger are also big boosts.
Last week I was speaking at an event. Afterward, a young woman approached me asking about a friend of hers. This friend batted from one restrictive diet to the next crazy one thinking if she could just lose some weight she would be happy. I know that losing weight does not make one happy. Oftentimes, though, losing the weight can help boost self-esteem and confidence. When you feel good about yourself, you feel more confident and can be happier with yourself. So, if the physical side effects of exercise can improve your mood and maybe your appearance then your confidence can follow.
This one kinda goes without saying I think. However, sometimes I think we are so impatient that we forget that getting good at something and being confident at something just take good old fashioned practice. We can’t learn a new trick, a new skill or get good at anything without practice. In my lawyer days I spent countless hours going over questions, arguments and outlines while in the shower, driving in my car and standing in front of the mirror. In my fitness work, I have spent many, many hours practicing new moves, workouts and choreography.
These days I can get in front of a full class and lead an awesome workout without really thinking about it. I know what I am doing, know where we are going and how to mix things up to make it challenging and fun. I am also confident enough that if I mess up I can laugh about it with the group and we can move on. But I’m here to tell you that this takes time. For instance, a couple of years ago I began teaching at a new studio. This was a new format, new people and new place for me. I knew this was good for me to get out of my comfort zone and learn and do new stuff. It took me back to the mirror practicing and back to being a bit patient with getting my confidence in this new space. In the same vein, I was recently asked to meet with a new instructor about helping to structure her class. We spent some time going over class format, different exercises for different areas, music, cueing and timing. In the end, my best advice to her was to just practice and get up there and do it. There’s no better way to get better and more confident than just doing it.
This is a simple thing. We all know it. We know it from our own experiences, listening and watching others. We see our children practice and get better and more confident from their earliest days of learning to walk, to later playing the piano, singing in front of a crowd, playing sports – throwing the perfect pitch, sacking the quarterback or scoring that soccer ball. Adults are no different.
6. Focus on Your Strengths
You are not a one-dimensional person. You are awesome at lots of different things. Why we all tend to focus on the one or few things that we are not the best at is a baffling question. I know there is SO much negativity and comparison out there. We tend to forget about the gifts and talents that we do have.
Rather than focusing on the things that you do need to practice or work on, think about all the areas where you do excel. If you need to make a list – do that. Sometimes writing it down helps drive the point home. That list can remind you of the skills you have, the talents and gifts that you are already giving to the world. These are gifts that you have that someone else doesn’t. You are competent and strong in so many areas. Let your confidence in those areas flow over to the other aspects you are practicing.