For many of us, confidence feels like an elusive trait. We assume that, if we weren't born with it, then we're just out of luck. Some of us will spend our lives constantly chasing certain goals under the assumption that once we accomplish this one thing, we'll suddenly feel great about ourselves. For countless years, I know I told myself that once I achieved a certain goal, I could finally relax and enjoy the confidence that I desperately craved. The trouble was, once I achieved my goal, the confidence I wanted failed to magically appear the way I had hoped — so I'd quickly have to find a new goal to replace the previous one.
Spoiler alert: I had it all wrong. Self-confidence takes practice and it needs to come from within. Sure, the world will sometimes give us tangible confidence boosts thanks to our hard work — the college acceptance letters, job offers, and promotions all feel great in the moment. But if we don't have a solid foundation of confidence within us, any sense of pride or accomplishment will be short-lived.
Self-confidence takes practice, and it means adjusting your habits and behaviors — but it's so worth the effort, because it affects every aspect of your life. No matter how much you excel in the workplace, you may not get the recognition you deserve if you consistently give the impression that you don't think highly of yourself. If you lack self-esteem in your personal life, the unfortunate truth is that certain people will take advantage of you when they observe that you don't think you deserve to be treated well.
The following habits can easily be incorporated into your daily life, and they'll give you the confidence boost you deserve.
1. Set Small Goals
We all know it's important to have long-term goals and aspirations — and we should always be working towards them and thinking about the big picture. But, on some days, thinking about your goal of becoming a top executive by age 35 just feels really overwhelming.
Before you start your day or your week, think of some smaller goals that you can accomplish. Are you going to finally start that fun blog you've been meaning to launch for weeks? How about challenging yourself to try a new activity, such as a dance, yoga, or a writing class? Setting a short-term goal and achieving it boosts your overall confidence level.
2. Stand Up Straight!
Yes, I totally sound like your mother right now, but good posture can do wonders for your confidence. We all know that standing up straight projects an image of confidence to everyone around us, but it can also help us feel more self-assured. Research has shown that when you stand up straight, you are more likely to believe in yourself and your abilities than when you slouch. Even better? Try the Wonder Woman power pose.
3. Don't Always Play It Safe
If you always play it safe and live in fear of failure, you'll never realize your actual potential and you'll find yourself in a rut pretty quickly. If a project that interests you pops up at work, volunteer to jump on board, even if you are nervous about it. You may not do everything perfectly and you'll probably make a few mistakes, but you'll learn from the experience and prove to yourself and others that you're willing to step outside your comfort zone in order to learn new skills.
4. Speak Clearly And Enunciate
If you speak too quickly and mumble, you'll give the impression that your thoughts aren't that important and you're really sorry for wasting everyone's time by forcing them to listen to you. No one wants to listen to a long ramble, but if you have something important to say, don't be afraid to command the attention of everyone in the room and clearly state your point.
Another one that's easier said than done, I know, but practice makes perfect. (Or at least habit.)
5. Graciously Accept Compliments
Many of us struggle with self-esteem, so it's not surprising that we don't know how to take a compliment. Next time someone congratulates you on a job well done, don't brush it off or downplay your contributions as "not that big a deal". I'm not saying be cocky and tell them "yeah, thanks, I know," but say a sincere "thank you!" and express that you appreciate their recognition of your accomplishment. That's not being arrogant; it's accepting credit when it's due to you.
6. Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
When you're working on your confidence, constantly comparing yourself to those around you will be your ultimate enemy. It's great to have friends, family members, and colleagues who motivate and inspire us — we can learn a lot from them. But don't compare yourself to friends and colleagues in every single way, shape, and form you can think of.
Is it really going to accomplish anything when you focus on a colleague who got promoted a month before you did, or a friend who is in way better shape than you? Self-confidence has to come from within, so rid yourself of any ideas that losing 10 pounds or beating someone to a promotion is going to magically make you feel great about yourself.
7. Remember That It's Okay To Say "No"
Confident people know their boundaries — and that means they know that sometimes saying "no" is the right answer. We should always be go-getters and we should never say "no" to pursuing something we want just because we're afraid of failure. But, in some situations, saying no and putting our foot down is the right thing to do — and we shouldn't be afraid of that.
If you're constantly being taken advantage of by a co-worker who claims to be super stressed but is actually just on social media all day, it's fine to tell him or her that you can't pick up the slack today because you have a lot of your own work to complete. If you have a friend who consistently takes advantage of you in some way, start saying "no". If they promptly decide they no longer want anything to do with you, they're not a real friend and they're not worth your time. Confident people never waste their time on friends who don't deserve their kindness.
8. On A Rough Day, Think About What You've Already Overcome
Some days, everything seems to go wrong. We all have those times when we feel as though we're simultaneously failing both personally and professionally. On those rough days, it helps to think back on all the hard times you've already gotten through. Don't downplay the difficulties in your past that you've already overcome. Even if a certain day is really kicking your butt, you've felt like that before and survived it.
Think about the accomplishments in your past and all the hurdles you've overcome. If it helps, make a quick list of things you're proud of. Then get back to your day and try to make it so you're kicking this tough day's butt — not the other way around.