Master Confidence with These 7 Easy Daily Habits
Confidence. More important to success than IQ. And, like IQ*, something you can increase.
Confidence. More important to success than IQ. And, like IQ*, definitely something you can increase (or decrease) through daily habits.
And who doesn't need an extra dose of confidence?
Most of us Could Use More Confidence
Okay - known psychopaths, people affected by the Dunning-Kruger effect and narcissists should stop reading here.
Everyone else, you may need or want to increase your self-confidence. You can.
First, let's change things up a bit. Instead of self-confidence, let's consider a slightly different, but perhaps more accurate trait: self-efficacy.
Self-Efficacy - Proven Way to Success
Defined by Albert Bandura in 1977, self-efficacy is "one's belief in one's ability to succeed in specific situations." It's based on four sources, listed here in order of importance:
- Mastery - How well you know your stuff
- Watching - Being surrounded by others who are successful
- Praise - Hearing from others that you can do it
- Mood - Your emotions can change your outlook
What's neat about Bandura's theory is that instead of simply "faking it till you make it" you actually focus on improving yourself and your environment as a way to become more effective and confident.
Less smoke and mirrors and more evidence based. Of course, there is something to be said for giving yourself that leg up by creating a more positive outlook. We'll get to that.
Mastery - Know Your Stuff
A great way to be confident is to be really good at what you do. And the more success you experience, the more success you'll expect to achieve. There are two parts to this. On the one hand, it's important to keep learning and improving. On the other hand, it's also really important to teach yourself to notice your successes and use narrative techniques to reframe previous unsuccessful attempts.
As J.K. Rowling has brilliantly said, "Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all in which case, you fail by default."
1. So first, make sure to be kind to yourself
The first easy habit really should be easy. Take a few minutes to write down past successes. Write down everything you can think of. Then, actually think about what you are skilled at and create personal affirmations around these. For a great method to do just this, see this Business Insider article. Write them down, and then repeat them to yourself as you wake up each morning. For more great ideas, see this workbook by MindTools.
2. Set goals and then work toward achieving them
The second habit includes 3 steps. First, work on visualizing success that you want to see. A fun way to do this is through exercises that can be found in this article. Next, set out to create and begin to achieve these successes, perhaps using one of these great apps. Finally, and here is where things get difficult (but important!) - Stick with your learning and keep going, even when you experience setbacks. Take one step at a time, practice problem-solving skills, and keep moving forward.
Observing and Watching Others
Surrounding yourself with other people who experience success will lead to your experiencing success as well. But don't just surround yourself with people who are experiencing success, really admire them and try to see how alike you are.
The key here is that by noticing and really admiring other people's successes, you begin to believe that you are also capable of the same or better success.
3. Network, Network, network
Make networking a habit. If shyness is an issue for you, consider checking out the Shyness Institute. But creating a habit of networking, whether through joining groups, finding a mentor, or finding your own Paris. That last is a reference to a line in the above-quoted article. It's brilliant. You should read it.
You can surround yourself with people who believe in you, or you can surround yourself with people who don't, or who don't tell you how much they believe in you. Your choice.
What's important here is what kind of praise, and how it is delivered. Carol Dweck, author of Mindset (among other books, and many, many research papers) notes that praise can do more harm than good when it is directed toward talent or intelligence. Instead, look for people who praise your work, and who praise work that is really praiseworthy. Another toxic form of praise is that which is given to mediocre work. Begin to cultivate people around you who are authentically cheering you on.
Needless to say (one hopes) fault-finding and personal criticism are not helpful and can undermine your success. Avoid this as much as possible.
As Carol Dweck says, "Praise should deal, not with the child's personality attributes, but with his efforts and achievements."
4. look for people who believe your work is strong & tell you
You can't control what people say about you, but you can begin to cultivate a growth mindset, and begin to find people who also believe in this mindset. They'll be people who will praise your work when you deserve that praise, and this encouragement will bolster you and keep you moving forward.
This last source of self-efficacy is one you can control and one that I think really can help to sustain the other three. Without a realistic outlook, you risk not noticing your successes, not hearing praise when it comes, and being easily discouraged when you need to keep your motivation. So seek out positivity, and practice stress reduction techniques.
As Albert Bandara says, "Self-belief does not necessarily ensure success, but self-disbelief assuredly spawns failure."
5. positive self-talk
Practice the habit of positive self-talk. A technique called thought-stopping, where you train yourself to actually stop a negative thought by saying, mid-thought, "Stop!" You can also wear a rubber band around your wrist and snap it as you begin to say your negative thought.
To become aware of negative thoughts, keep a journal, and write down those things you think to yourself when you are upset or stressed. If you want to learn more about this, the form of therapy that deals with these techniques is called cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT.
6. Practice Meditation and relaxation
Make meditation a habit in order to help control your thoughts and keep your mindset realistic and positive. The form of relaxation and/or meditation is not as important as is the attempt to keep your thoughts, words and actions focused and trained on positive realistic areas.
Make exercise a habit. You'll see noticeable differences in your mindset when you exercise regularly. Exercising will release excess energy, too, which can help focus and attention. The main thing here is that it is not easy to control your thoughts, but it is important. Making sure that exercise is part of your routine will ensure that you are at your peak, and ready for whatever life throws at you.
Believing in yourself will also help attract people to you who also believe in you. Keep things around you that make you happy and uplift you. Bottom line: It's in your best interest to be on your own team :)
Putting it All Together
At the end of the day, practicing small steps each day that make you feel like you are capable, whether by actually learning new skills, reminding yourself of successes, hearing solid praise or watching someone you admire as they succeed, can eventually lead to success.
Staying with the program, reminding yourself of the end goals and your "true north" is an important part of ultimate success. By cultivating self-efficacy, you're scientifically much more likely to experience ultimate success. Stick with it and don't give up!
*Controversial, but there are things you can do to raise your IQ. Better yet, though, if you're interested in the subject of intelligence testing, is ditching that test altogether and consider learning about Robert Sternberg.