What if I fail?
What if I can’t do it?
What will everyone else think of me?
It’s easy to nurture insecurities and talk yourself out of taking action by contemplating questions like these. “Self-confidence” is not a buzzword of the new-age sect. Rather it’s the one factor that can make or break any action—it’s the difference between “I can’t” and “I’m willing to try.”
Lack of confidence can be paralyzing, and that paralysis can augment the feelings of insecurity. You aren’t an “insecure person.” You’re simply someone who is feeling insecure. With practice, you can break out of that mindset and confidently make decisions and take action.
Here are seven actions you can start practicing today, that are guaranteed to give your self-confidence a boost:
1. Fail with enthusiasm.
It’s OK to fail. A huge part of every success story is failure. Instead of fearing failure or avoiding it all together, try embracing it. Consider each failure a learning experience and expect to fail at new things. When trying any new thing, let failure be a part of the path and not what derails you. Fail enthusiastically and keep going.
2. Practice saying what you mean.
Do you find yourself saying “yes” when you want to say “no?” Do you feel like you get walked on, or don’t get taken seriously, because you don’t stand up for yourself? Practice saying what you really mean. It can be scary. Start small if you need to. For example, politely let the barista know when your coffee order is wrong instead of walking away bummed about it. Say “no” to volunteering if you really don’t have time for it. Little honest statements make the bigger ones easier. Practice saying what you mean, everyday.
3. Dress the part.
There is no “right way” to dress the part. However, feeling confident in your skin helps you feel confident in your life. For some that might mean putting on your power heels and red lipstick before a meeting. For others that might mean wearing your comfiest basketball shorts when going in for a new lifting PR. Whatever the occasion, and whatever makes you feel your best, dress the part as a way to tell yourself “you got this.”
4. Set a small goal.
Big goals are overwhelming for most people. Break them into smaller goals that set you up to take the first step, and many more small steps, toward those bigger goals. This allows you to identify a starting point and gives you multiple opportunities to succeed along the way. If you want to run a marathon, set the goal of running three miles and go from there. Does running three miles still feel overwhelming? Start with a goal of running one mile. If your goal is to go back to school, start by researching programs. Just start. Accomplishing small goals offers large boosts in self-esteem.
5. Change your “worst case scenario” mantra.
Instead of constantly looking toward “the worst thing that can possibly happen” with any decision or action, focus on your amazing ability to have made it this far. Whenever I find myself creating stories about all the bad things that can happen, I back up and change the story. I tell myself, “I am fully capable of handling difficult outcomes.” The stories we have made up about ourselves have so much power to either propel us toward action or paralyze us and keep us from moving forward with confidence. You have handled all the difficult outcomes of your life to date. Tell yourself you can handle hard things and move forward accordingly.
6. Give yourself pep talks.
Talk to yourself the way you would talk to a friend. Instead of kicking yourself or second guessing every action, give yourself a pep talk. I recently had a scary phone call wherein I had to ask for something big from a company. The outcome of the conversation was to have major implications for my life. Before making the call I literally stood in my kitchen telling myself, “I am assertive, I am confident, I can ask for what I want.” I said this to myself over and over and then I made the call. The outcome was great, but most of all, I felt ready. I talked to myself the way I would a friend instead of the way I would an enemy. Friends are great for this, but you have you. You deserve pep talks from you.
7. Celebrate success.
Celebrate any and all successes. Did you accomplish a small goal? High five yourself! Did you talk yourself through a difficult task? Congratulations! Did you try something and fail? Way to try! You have the courage to try again! How amazing of you! This may be borderline ridiculous, but I go so far as to give myself “gold star” stickers when I tackle my to-do list. No one is out here high-fiving me for doing laundry, so I do that for myself! Celebrate when you tackle something new, and let your confidence shine!