I’ve written about how I have struggled with confidence and self-esteem. In a nutshell not only do I struggle in believing in my own capabilities, but I struggle to believe I am capable of achieving what I’m passionate about.
I’ve decided to confront this problem head-on and create for myself a roadmap to meet greater confidence and give myself the best chances possible to be successful.
Here are the essential checkpoints on my roadmap to stronger more vibrant confidence that I’m hoping to be more cognizant of and incorporate into my daily life.
1.) Inhale the positive and exhale the negative
Simply put you need to surround yourself in the most positive and optimistic environment possible. We all know negativity is the biggest buzz kill of all. How can you possibly grow and believe in yourself if there are negative forces surrounding you that remind you of how bad things can be? I can write an entire blog about negativity and its detriment to building confidence but simply put, whether it’s a negative person or a negative environment, whether it is directed at you or just taking up space in your surroundings, do what you can to shut the negativity down. It can be exuding your own positivity or simply limiting your exposure to it. Being around positive people, working in a positive environment only means you will feel and think more positively about yourself. Positivity is contagious!
2.) Remain grateful
Gratitude is pivotal. I remember learning this lesson through the Spiritual Exercises. Gratitude allows us to see how good we have it in life. When things may not be playing out in our favor, its good to turn our attention to that which has worked out and be grateful for it. Incorporating some type of grateful acknowledgment into your day is huge for confidence. It will remind you of the things that do go right for you. The best part is it is so simple. Maybe you are having a bad day, but you were able to enjoy your favorite cup of coffee for breakfast. Maybe you ran into a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Maybe someone did something exceptionally nice for you. Being grateful and acknowledging your gratitude reaffirms the positivity element from Checkpoint #1, but also just helps remind us that things do work out if we just look at them through a grateful lens.
3.) Re-orient criticism
Criticism can be a tough pill to swallow, but constructive criticism is meant to help us improve, even though it can feel pretty crappy to be told there’s something we did that needs improvement. Of course, we want to hit it out of the ballpark, but sometimes it is a good thing just to get on base. And occasionally we strike out, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t skilled and capable people.
Ernest Hemmingway said that the first draft of anything is shit. We aren’t perfect people and can’t always execute perfection. So we should re-orient our thoughts on criticism and take what people give us as words to simply help us. This can be easier said than done, especially when we can be emotional, or put endless hours of work into something. However, if we greet criticism with more openness, we only help ourselves learn and to not be so caught up in ourselves and our own perspective.
4.) Make like a Boy Scout and be prepared
I’m a planner by nature and I thrive when I can work off a plan. Laying a foundation for what we need to accomplish and what we need in order to do it, is giving ourselves the best chance to succeed. More importantly, it’s giving ourselves the foresight to see what’s coming, and what we’ll need help with. If we tend to prepare for what we know is coming, we give ourselves the time and tools to work on what we know we need help with. I do believe there is a correlation between being organized and being confident. If you know what’s coming, you can better adapt when things go awry. You can also know who you need to depend on to hit goals and get projects accomplished. Being prepared allows you to tap into what you know you bring to the table. When you start tapping into those, you’ll begin to build confidence in yourself.
5.) Give yourself the priority on your calendar
One of my downfalls has been carving out the time for myself. Whether that is to work on my writing or to get to a yoga class, I’ve neglected what practices help me be more confident. It can be a result of being busy or being lazy, but from one end of the spectrum to the other, I just don’t set aside the time for myself. If we carve time out on our calendars as if we would any other work meeting or important event, we would be sure not to miss it. So I started to set specific times and block out my calendar just for those instances. When we give ourselves the time to do what we love, or what we need to care for ourselves, we begin to believe we are worthy of that. Not to mention, we give ourselves the practice to sharpen our capabilities. Cutting time out on our calendars is an easy way to ensure we devote the time to what we know will make us grow in comfort of who we are and what we are capable of accomplishing.
6.) Don’t forget self-care
We won’t feel nearly as confident in ourselves if we don’t take care of ourselves first. If we make self-care a priority we will grow in loving and caring for ourselves. This may be the most important Checkpoint because it is the most vital to ensuring we don’t get burned out and frustrated when things don’t go our way, when things become overwhelming and intense, or when we have just felt down and out. Self-care allows us to realize we are important enough to put ourselves first and to ensure our happiness is the pinnacle of our success. Making self-care a priority subtly builds in us a desire to put ourselves first, and believe in ourselves.
7.) Analyze your failures
I think we learn more from our screw-ups and mistakes than we do when we get things right. Failure can be a tricky element because it can be something that takes a blow to our confidence. However, if we look at what we learn from our failures, we see how much growth there is in that process. Maybe we screwed up on a project at work. From that mistake, we tend to learn what not to do the next time around. Soon, our practices become routine and we become better professionals as a result. Not to mention, we will begin to anticipate what things could possibly go wrong and be prepared for them. Failures can be tougher than criticism to take, but nonetheless a crucial checkpoint in growing in our own confidence. When we are open to realizing we can’t know it all, and we won’t be able to execute perfection always, we will focus on what skills we know are sharpest.
8.) Celebrate every win
Every step in the right direction whether its a baby-step or a giant leap should be treated as a win. When it comes to writing, simply jotting down a sentence in a journal is a win. Maybe I get my way through publishing a blog post – another win. We need to celebrate our wins because they help us feel more confident with taking on and accomplishing more. No one can run a marathon without having first run a 5K, and anyone who runs a 5K can’t run it without having first run around their neighborhood. We all need to start somewhere, and we all need to celebrate moments when we have accomplished something. You don’t have to go throwing confetti for completing a simple task, but give yourself the acknowledgment of accomplishment. You’ll soon be ready for more, and from there even more and eventually you’ll be confident enough to take whatever comes your way.
9.) Scare yourself
You’ll never know what you are capable of if you stay in your comfort zone. This may be the most difficult checkpoint to deal with simply because it requires going out of a solid routine. But I’m not talking about the edge of death scary, but more so uncomfortable scary. Maybe it’s leading a staff meeting, or adding a new project to your plate that no one wants. Maybe it’s as extreme as relocating to a new city. Whether big or small, moments of pushing our own limits give us the exposure of things we wouldn’t normally do. Beyond that, it helps us diversify our skill set and become well-rounded professionals and people. This just means we add more skills to our repertoire and be able to see problems and solutions differently. Not to mention how cool is the feeling of accomplishing something that is completely off the wall? Maybe something so out of own own personal or professional context can show us how capable we are in what we set out to do each and everyday.
10.) Say NO
It’s crucial to not burn yourself out and overextend yourself to the point where you feel you completely unfocused and unaccomplished. Burn out is a recipe for slowly beginning to believe we aren’t capable of accomplishing the million-and-one tasks we said yes to. Be smart and say no. Say no to the things you don’t feel help you grow. Say no to the things you know you cannot give your full and undivided attention to. When we say no to the extra stuff, we begin to narrow in on what we are good at and the things we do enjoy, all the while giving ourselves the best chance possible to succeed. Sure, there are things we can’t avoid saying yes to, but that’s where other checkpoints like being prepared come in to play. When we have the options to discern what is good for us, be certain to say no to what will detract from your own growth and belief in yourself.
11.) Pay it forward
I’m a believer that you can’t get anywhere on your own. The accolades you achieve are due in part to the people who help you get there. They can be cheerleaders, mentors, or critics. Whoever they are they help guide us on our paths. Be a cheerleader to someone else and celebrate their wins. Mentor someone who was once where you used to be and help them better prioritize and plan. Be a critic to someone and challenge their thinking so they begin to learn all angles of a situation. Being a support for someone else helps us reflect on how much we have accomplished and how far we have come from where we started. It also helps us sharpen our own skills and beliefs as we begin to share with others our own thoughts and practices. When we pay it forward and help someone else it just reaffirms that we are talented enough to be in a position to help someone else. And what better way is there to grow in our own confidence, than by helping someone else grow in theirs?