Chase Your Goals With More Confidence
An "I got this" attitude can take you from point A to B (to Z). Build up yours with these expert-backed steps.
- Confidence might be the missing piece you need to achieve real progress towards your goals.
- With the right approach, you can build confidence from wins and "failures".
- Research suggests dressing the part can give you that mental edge. New gear, anyone?
Here's what you need to know ...
Some people—pro athletes, supermodels, your ballsy big sister—are just born with the confidence gene, right? Not exactly.
"Confidence comes from experiences of putting yourself out there and finding out that things go all right sometimes", says Jessica M. Goodnight, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist in Atlanta who specialises in anxiety. "Inevitably, by doing this, you'll also experience failure, which—if you're resilient and bounce back from it—can also be used as an opportunity to bolster your confidence".
You'll gain the most skill by consistently pursuing, say, a new workout or sport, rather than totally nailing it a few times. "And confidence makes it easier to be persistent", says Goodnight. It's that chicken and the egg thing.
Still, taking that first step can feel scary. These strategies will help jump-start your confidence so you can dive in and begin building that deep, unshakeable self-certainty that carries you closer to your goals.
1. Fake it till you make it.
Just standing or sitting straight can make you feel stronger, more capable and less fearful, as can striking a "power pose"—meaning you push your shoulders back, puff out your chest slightly, lift your chin and make eye contact—according to a review of 55 studies. "Slouching or sinking tends to restrict our breath and can make us feel sluggish or small. Psychologically, it projects inferiority", says Kelley Kitley, a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist in Chicago who specialises in anxiety and depression.
Dressing the part can also be empowering. "Ask yourself, 'If I already felt confident, what would I wear?'" says Goodnight. That might mean splurging on a great outfit before you get the job, or investing in better training gear while you're still getting into your lifting groove. Research suggests that the right kind of kit can help you see yourself in a more positive light. And that can give you the mental edge to succeed, says Kitley.
2. Take a chance.
"Confidence can be built through risk-taking", says Kitley. When you push yourself outside of your comfort zone and realise that it actually feels rewarding, you develop more self-assurance, which you can apply to just about anything, she explains.
One low-key way to dip your toe into risk? Strike up a conversation with a stranger. It's a small gamble (worst-case scenario, they look at you like you have two heads), but it still requires a bit of vulnerability, and the confidence pay-off of creating a new connection can be high. Kitley and Goodnight suggest giving a simple, genuine compliment to that person you see at the gym or in the lift every day. "When the person makes eye contact with you or smiles, that's your cue", says Goodnight.
3. Put pen to paper.
Remind yourself of how awesome you are by writing down examples of home runs you've hit in the past, literally or figuratively. "It's evidence that you've already done hard things, which you can use to create a foundation to build on", says Kitley. Keep the list in a place where you'll see it often, like on the bathroom mirror or next to the coffee maker, or use it as the background of your phone's lock screen.
Note the wins you're racking up in real time too. Each week, add one or two things you did really well, particularly in trying times, such as rocking a project during finals week or finishing a HIIT workout after a night of poor sleep. Seeing the list grow is a tangible way of tracking your successes and showing yourself that you're making progress, says Kitley. It'll remind you that even when failure happens, you're still able to push through.
"Seeing proof of your confidence adding up shows that you have more of it than you may think", says Kitley. "This is what helps you feel proud and motivated to take more risks, live outside your comfort zone and set even loftier goals". And of course, achieve every one of them.
Words: Marygrace Taylor
Illustration: Davide Bonazzi
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