We want to be successful, healthy, happy, wealthy, sexy, or
funny (err maybe that’s just me) but something gets in our way. Often it’s our big BUT. How do we go about finding confidence to make these things happen?
You may have thought about applying for that new position at work, BUT you aren’t sure you are qualified. You know you should invest in a 401k retirement savings account BUT you don’t feel like you understand them enough.
Perhaps just the other day you mentioned wanting to lose ten pounds, BUT you just don’t have time to exercise. Or maybe you want to save money to go on vacation this winter or next summer, BUT you are already living paycheck-to-paycheck and don’t know where the money will come from.
I want to (fill in the blank), BUT
- I’m way too busy/I don’t have time
- I’m too tired/No motivation
- I’m not sure if it’s a good idea/It might not work
- It’s not the right time/I should wait until next year
- I don’t know enough/I don’t know how to start
- I’m too young/I’m too old
- It’s impossible/It’s too expensive
- I’m afraid I’ll fail/I’m scared
Any of this sound familiar?
If we continue to let these buts grow, we get stuck behind them. And it gets harder and harder to lose them. So what can we do? How about we start with figuring out why we are not making our desires a priority?
Do we really want that thing/goal or not? Is it just not the right time due to other priorities? We can’t do everything as much as we might want to. Perhaps this goal is just not for us. If we do want that thing though, maybe we need to start saying no to other things. Or perhaps we just need to acknowledge our fears. And find the confidence to get past our buts.
Fear. It is often our most significant roadblock to taking action on a dream or goal. We practice over and over, but we fear we aren’t good enough. We read books and take classes, but we think we don’t know enough. We work through our plan, stock up on all the equipment and supplies, but we still fear we don’t have enough to succeed.
Our fear grabs us, holds tight, and keeps us from leaving our comfort zones.
Common fears include:
- Fear of Making Mistakes
- Fear of Embarrassment
- Fear of Failure
- Fear of Success
- Fear of Change
- Fear of Obligation
- Fear of Judgement
Tackling these concerns though helps us shrink our buts so we can move around them.
I’ve experienced every one of these fears at one time or another. Somehow, however, I manage to work my but off just enough to start. And with continued effort, my but gets smaller and smaller as I find and grow my confidence.
“Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is the greatest friend.” ~ Lao Tzu
The other day I had a memory from seven years ago pop-up on Facebook. It was a picture of me on my first outdoor rock climbing adventure at Red River Gorge in Kentucky. That trip was amazing and life-changing, but it almost didn’t happen.
You see, I’d been asked numerous times to join some co-workers for rock climbing, and I really wanted to go, BUT I was too busy, tired, old, weak, scared (you name it). After a few months of excuses, I finally worked around my but and accepted an invitation to meet at the indoor climbing gym.
One session and I was hooked. I joined the gym and climbed 2-3 times a week after that. A few months later I was climbing outdoors in Kentucky.
Breaking out of our comfort zones can feel like a daunting task. We know what to expect in our zone and allowing ourselves to go out on a limb (or cliff) can feel terrifying because of a fear of failure.
We fear we may lose something (pride?), but the truth is we have so much to gain.
We may think up fantastic ideas, but we don’t possess the experience or expertise needed to bring them to life. Usually, we then end up believing we won’t be able to be successful because we don’t know how to get started. This is just an excuse.
There is almost nothing we can’t learn in a reasonable amount of time. Libraries are full of books, and the Internet is full of information on nearly every subject we can think of.
If we want it bad enough, we can figure it out or get help if needed. The options are limitless – as long as we really want to do it.
I’ve created two decently successful businesses – one in the fitness market and one in the restaurant industry – without any prior knowledge or experience in either.
I went back to college part-time in my late 30’s, graduating with my Bachelor’s degree at age 45. I created this blog with no idea what I was doing. Now I have two additional ones and write for other publications too.
I just had strong desires, worked around my buts and made these goals a priority.
You can do the same.
Recognizing excuses for what they are is the first step in leaving them behind. Beyond that, it’s all up to you. You can either accept the excuses you’re giving yourself and others, or you can work to shrink your buts and move past them.
Looking at potential opportunities as new and exciting adventures instead of as overwhelming and frightening experiences helps.
Use any of these ideas below to help you find or build your confidence, so you don’t let your big but get in the way of your goals and dreams.
Adopt a Mantra and Live By It
In the 1999 movie, “Galaxy Quest,” an entire civilization bases its core values on a cheesy TV sci-fi show from Earth. They take the series hero’s glib motto, “Never give up; never surrender” to new heights—and achieve peace within a warring society before teaming up with earthmen to defeat a supervillain.
This is what happens when you adopt a mantra, motto or slogan—and live by it.
“Never give up; never surrender” is a great motto, when you are trying to build new habits that increase your confidence.
One of the simplest tricks for helping yourself to both take action and feel more confident – create an inspiring musical playlist, and play it whenever appropriate.
Sad music often helps us process feelings when we have relationship breakups or other blows in life. Similarly, energizing music or inspiring music can actually move us to the point where we take action.
Choose your own favorite “theme song.” It will automatically boost your confidence whenever you hear it. Eye of the Tiger anyone?
Practice, Practice, Practice
You’ve heard the old Boy Scout motto “Be prepared” right? Well, there is nothing better for increasing confidence than knowing you are entirely ready to conduct an interview, give a presentation, run a marathon, or climb a mountain.
So read over your notes, practice in front of the mirror, run your miles, and know how to belay.
Write down what you need to accomplish before tackling some event, project, or task that makes you nervous. Practice it and make sure you try everything out in advance.
Practice that speech (many times!) Try out and practice using the new software. Anticipate questions. Make sure you have everything you need together and ready to go.
Being prepared is the best way to step out in absolute confidence.
Do It until It’s a Yawn
Resist the urge to make just one phone call, or send one custom email, or approach one person at a conference. Set a goal of reaching ten, or twenty, or even fifty (if there are enough people to converse with).
Sure, it’s a significant breakthrough if you do something like apply for one new opportunity or introduce yourself to one new person—but the way to start enjoying these activities is to do it again and again until you feel confident and sure of yourself.
Take Action, Any Action
One of the best steps you can take for yourself is to stop thinking and “just do it”—whatever “it” is.
Thinking leads to over-thinking, which leads to procrastination, which leads to a loss of self-worth. So be the person who takes action when others are still tossing around possible solutions. Lace up your running shoes. Save $10. Pack your lunch. Send that email. Start your 401k savings account.
Taking action is empowering. So become the “action person” you’ve been looking up to and admiring.
Start With The Hard Stuff First
Want to know a quick way to boost your confidence? Start with the most challenging task or action you have to take, that day. Get it out of the way before you even look at the rest of your “To Do” list.
Getting it out of the way can jolt you out of even the most minor paralysis, depression, or exhaustion. Getting it out of the way will not only increase your confidence level but energize you too. That way, you’ll have lots of inspiration for the rest of your day!
Alternatively, Start With The Largest Priority First
Completing it will give you the same confident feelings as above.
Once you’ve tackled the hardest task or biggest priority of the day, ride the wave of relief and empowerment by completing at least one other unfinished task each day.
Sign up for that class. Ask for that raise. Start your side hustle. Make that doctor’s appointment. Complete that blog post (Amy!).
(And while you’re at it, set-up that massage or lunch date you’ve been promising yourself for weeks.)
Offer Support To Others
Another way to boost your own confidence in a problem area is with helping others.
It can be incredibly empowering to seize a problem by the horns and help others overcome or deal with it while admitting you to have issues in those areas.
You will find that having to learn all you can about it, discover resources that work and come up with ideas and strategies to discuss gives you a surprising amount of confidence in an area you previously found problematic.
Make On-going Learning Part of Your Life
Knowing you’re on top of the latest changes, improvements or information in your field or area of interest is another good way to boost your confidence automatically.
Take innovative courses, attend lectures, keep your certifications updated or upgraded, and subscribe to—and read—industry journals, to stay informed. Do research. Contact organizations, companies, and experts. This way, you won’t just be following top influencers, you can be one too.
Giving your time and expertise to local organizations, schools, and groups, is not only helpful to your community—it’s a great confidence-builder.
The more people you talk to, the more people you help, and the more you’ll find your confidence naturally soaring.
Make Finding Confidence a Habit
No one is born with supreme self-confidence. It’s learned.
So consciously work on learning it. Change your habits. Take actions you need to take, change negative self-talk to realistic and more positive talk, and actively adopt the attitude of what you define as a successful person.
Confidence is not only for the lucky few who “succeed.” Anyone can have it—all you have to do is make it a habit.
What’s your biggest but right now? Do you have a success story to share? Please let us know in the comments.