How To Be Confident
It’s the million dollar question; how to be confident? As a personal development coach, it’s a question I get asked frequently. And what’s more it’s the most difficult question I have to answer.
Why… because learning self-confidence is a unique experience for everyone; so there isn’t a simple answer. However, there is a process that I recommend you follow. This process can be likened to a journey; it will have its ups and downs but if you have a plan, it is a journey that everyone can make successfully. As with any journey, the time it takes will depend on your situation, your destination and the route you take.
To help explain this, I’d like to tell you briefly about one of my students. She’s a 29 year old lady called Laura. I met her 18 months ago. Laura was struggling to come across confidently at work.
The hardest challenge she faced was getting her point across confidently to ‘forthright’ colleagues and managers. She dreaded any situation that involved communicating with these people and it was getting to the point where she was feeling alienated. All this was having a serious impact on her work performance. She would doubt herself and try to avoid any situation outside her comfort zone that required self-confidence. She knew it had got to the point where she needed to do something about it.
This is how Laura went about it.
Learning how to be confident requires following a structured process;
- Stage 1 – Commit yourself and set your goals.
- Stage 2 – Clarify your focus areas and start the learning process.
- Stage 3 – Put the learning into practice and link it to reality.
- Stage 4 – Form solid confidence habits.
How To Be Confident – Stage 1 – Commit yourself and set your goals
Stage 1 of Laura’s journey started about two years ago. She knew that her lack of self-confidence was having an impact on her life – at that point, she made a conscious decision to do something about it. She completely committed to this. This was only possible because she accepted that confidence is actually a skill you can learn. It’s not something that some people are born with and others are unlucky not to have.
Laura then worked out her confidence goals. In other words, she decided where she wanted to be at the end of the journey. For Laura, being more confident meant getting more involved at work and coming across more assertively. Goals will be different for everyone as each person’s confidence challenges will differ. The important thing here is to break down your confidence challenges. It’s not enough to just say that you want to be more confident. You need to narrow it down.
How To Be Confident – Stage 2 – Clarify your focus areas and start the learning process
Once you understand your goals you can break them down further. I find it helps to split them between mind and body. This makes learning how to be confident more manageable. The ‘mind’ element relates to how you feel about yourself; it’s about self-belief, self-discipline, positivity and self-love. The ‘body’ element is more physical and to do with how you look and sound; body language, voice, demeanour. For Laura, she knew she had to address a combination of mind and body.
Laura knew she had a tendency to doubt herself, so it was important that self-belief and positivity needed to be part of the learning process. She also struggled to speak confidently with certain people and in group situations, so body language, demeanour and charisma needed attention too.
Deciding on how you will learn is important during Stage 2. There is a massive pool of free resources on the web. Some people are happy using this and learning independently. Do some research on what’s available in terms of the self-confidence challenges you’re facing. My Confidence Plan is a great place to start for inspiration.
You might decide to invest financially in your learning. Online confidence courses are an option here – you can complete these independently in your own time. Laura decided on a one day face to face confidence course that she attended in London.
An essential part of this stage of your ‘how to be confident’ journey is planning how you will link your learning to the reality of your life. Be conscious of this throughout the learning process and think carefully about this transition. When you’ve worked out a plan of attack, you’re ready to move on to Stage 3.
How To Be Confident – Stage 3 – Put the learning into practice and link it to reality
You need to consolidate once you’ve completed the learning stage of your journey. This means practising at every opportunity by actively applying the lessons you’ve learnt to the actual confidence challenges you’re facing. Whereas before you would have avoided a confidence challenge, now you will seize it.
Learning how to be confident is rather like running a hurdle race; you can see the end of the track (your confidence goals) but to get there, you have to jump the hurdles. Learning the principles and techniques (Stage 2) is essential but at some point you’ll need to have the courage to use them. Picture the hurdles on the track as your opportunity to practise. For Laura, the hurdles took the form of specific work meetings, stand up presentations and one to one communication with certain colleagues. Jumping hurdles requires momentum. It is tricky to jump a hurdle from a standing start. Confidence is the same. Even if you knock a hurdle (struggle with a challenge), it’s essential you keep going; learn from the mistake and move on to the next hurdle. This won’t be possible if you haven’t positioned the hurdles (planned your challenges) in advance… so be crystal clear what your challenges look like before you start trying to put what you’ve learnt into practice.
How To Be Confident – Stage 4 – Form solid confidence habits
I’m going to be honest with you. This is a journey that never ends but it does get easier and will start to come naturally for you. Before long, it will be part of your everyday life and, what’s more, it will open up new opportunities.
You will know when you are ready to start Stage 4 because you will have started to form self-confidence habits. These habits should automatically kick in when your confidence levels are challenged. This is why I say the journey never ends; consider Stage 4 to represent the rest of your life. This could be many years. This Stage is very different to the rest because throughout it, you will feel more in control. The habits you’ve formed will arm you with the tools you need to succeed. You can read more about these tools in my blog – How to gain confidence.
Never get complacent though. Stage 4 will still test you because there will be ‘unknowns’ along the route. Be prepared; on occasions your confidence levels may dip, most likely when something doesn’t go as planned. Expect this. Don’t be frightened by it. If you fail at something, see it is an opportunity to learn. Force yourself not to avoid similar situations. If you stop yourself doing something because it didn’t go well the first time, self-doubt will start to creep in. So be disciplined, have the courage to try again. This is the absolute key to keeping your momentum going throughout your journey.
Good luck on your journey to greater self-confidence. “If you don’t start somewhere, you’re gonna go nowhere” – Bob Marley