Confidence: a feeling of self-assurance arising from the appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.
How many of us feel this way, especially when we’re taking risks or stepping outside of the norm?
One of our readers, Allison C. of San Francisco asked me: “How do I stay confident through a transition period and when things get rough?”
We all have ups and downs, moments when everything seems to flow and moments when we’re dabbling in self doubt.
The downs are part of the course. But the ups keep us focused on the larger picture. The ups save us time, make us more effective and push us forward.
Here are three ways to take back your confidence if you’re feeling the doubt.
It’s You Against You
I recently stumbled on The Incredible Benefits of a Get Better Mindset by Heidi Grant Halverson, Associate Director of Columbia University’s Motivation Science Center.
The overall idea is that most of us measure our successes with a “be good” mindset.
I’m good at writing. I’m good at math. I’m good at _____(fill in the blank).
This insinuates that we’re born with a specific talent, and moreover we need to prove this skill, ability or success to others and to ourselves. In this scenario we compare ourselves to others, and this becomes the benchmark for success.
The result? Stress, insecurity, negativity. We become less solution oriented and less likely to succeed because we start to believe we can’t do something.
There will always be someone who is more successful than us. So the “be good” mindset can only get us so far.
The “get better” mindset, on the other hand, is all about improving versus proving and comparing ourselves to ourselves.
For example, if you’ve been trying to figure out what to do with your life and career, stop comparing yourself to your colleague or best friend who landed a management role at the age of 24. You have no idea what her path is about, where she’ll stumble, and if she’ll even stay the course.
Instead track your own progress. Where were you one year ago?
How were you feeling then? How are you feeling now?
What were you doing then? And what are you doing now? What path are you on?
Are you learning?
When you track your own progress, you can see how and where you’re growing. Use that as motivation to keep pushing forward, to feel proud of your accomplishments.
If you’re not progressing, don’t despair. This newfound self awareness can lead you to course correct now.
I recently discovered The Five Minute Journal. I’m hooked.
The idea is rooted in the psychology and power of gratitude, and the journaling is pretty straightforward and simple.
Each day contains five simple questions.
- What are you grateful for?
- What would make today great?
- What is your daily affirmation?
- What are 3 amazing things that happened today?
- How could I have made today even better?
You answer three in the morning and two in the evening.
The goal is to set your day with intention and approach it with greater positivity. Feeling down? Set the intention to do something that boosts your mood. In the evening, see how you’re feeling. What did you accomplish?
Talk About It
When I was 24, the quarter-life crisis hit me hard. I felt lost in both my professional and personal life.
I’d had amazing, life-changing experiences in college, but once I graduated and hit the professional world, I found life wasn’t as I’d expected.
I was also struggling personally, wrestling with big questions around marriage and relationships, unsure of how I wanted to live my life. .
I didn’t talk about any of this. I held it in. I felt ashamed because I thought if I’m having all of these struggles, I obviously don’t have my shit together. I’m a failure.
Anxiety and fear of judgement took over. And I continued to not talk about it.
As a result, I spent a lot of time in my head. I wasn’t finding a solution because I wasn’t talking about the problem.
Whenever you hit a roadblock, especially if you’re struggling with confidence, talk about it. You give the fear, the insecurity, the anxiety less power.
Find a trusted friend or join a community that empowers you. You’ll start to find solutions and inspiration, which will keep you moving.
Just Keep Moving Forward
There are times when our confidence takes a toll, especially when we’re taking risks and not following a set path. After all, when you follow a set path, you have a point of comparison. There’s data that things have worked out for others so they’ll likely work out for you. But this is bullshit.
Take comfort in the fact that you’re following your gut. By taking this risk, you’re finding new solutions, you’re being creative. All of this should empower you to keep going.
Someone also shared with me this image during a recent moment of struggle.
I refer to it often when I’m living in the doubt.
As you’ve been going through a transition, have you experienced a lack of confidence? Have you been able to overcome it, and if so, how? Let us know know in the comments below. Your insights can inspire others going through a similar experience.