Confidence: Why You Need More of It

Reading this article, you’re presented with two options:

1-Keep comfy in your low-confidence lifestyle; make no real changes. Keep wishing life will somehow magically get better.

Or,

2-Make a an enormous effort to increase your confidence-boosting behaviors, to limit your confidence-reducers, and to live courageously.

If option number two sparks a fire in your heart, then read on for five strategies that will make you extraordinarily confident and successful.

(Note: most of these action steps involve the use of a daily planner—which is nothing more than a blank-paged journal you fill with daily goals. So grab a planner and a pen and get ready to learn!)

1-Go out and help someone

Helping others reminds you that no matter how low you feel, you are actually capable of making a difference, which we tend to forget when wallowing alone in self-pity. So schedule volunteer hours and donation into your every week. That’s the “I shall not live in vain” stuff that Emily Dickenson talked about, which is confidence in the bank.

Pick the activities that suit you best—whether that’s working at a soup kitchen, preparing “dignity packs for the homeless (as some of my clients do), holding newborn babies at a hospital, beautifying your local parks and green spaces, feeding the homeless, shelving books at a library, mentoring a younger person, or teaching a valuable skill to someone who needs it. You know you best, so pick the thing that speaks to your heart. And if you don’t know what that thing is yet, pick anything.

Plan for it during your Sunday weekly planning routine and schedule these giving activities into your week. Commit to it for at least three months and watch your confidence bloom.

2-Attack your procrastinations

When you procrastinate, unfinished tasks keep piling and piling and piling up to the point that you feel impotent just thinking about things you should be doing. That’s confidence killer #1. But you can solve that with a weekly procrastination list.

All you have to do is brainstorm the top five procrastinations you should definitely take care of on the Sunday before each week starts—this will be located on your weekly planning page. When you reflect on that weekly list each morning to select just one backburner project for the day—like getting the dog neutered, drafting a proposal, cutting the weeds, or hiring someone for a modifications to your website—you engender a new “I-get-stuff-done” identity. That’s how confidence is born.

Seriously, one procrastination per day is all you need. Jerry Seinfeld became a famous comedian by coming up with just one good joke per day. You will become famously confident by attacking one procrastination goal per day. Just make sure to plan it.

3-Stop zero-value habits

Confidence is a product of time well spent. So when you do things you love, or learn something, or follow your passions, you build up confidence. (I know, it’s rocket science.) But it’s a scientific fact that you can’t do those confidence-builders when your time is occupied by low-value and unconscious habits:

Like watching TV
Flirting on Tinder
Creeping on Facebook
Mindlessly surfing the Internet
Reflexively checking your messages
Drooling at porn
Chatting with negative people
Binging on Netflix
Partying on the weekends/beers after work
Or clicking through self-improvement article after article.

None of these things give you confidence; and further, they prevent you from building your confidence. So decide today which five low-value habits you’re going to eliminate or reduce this week—which will go on your weekly planning page. Consider it a mental fast. Then reflect on your weekly not-to-dos each morning in order set concrete goals in your daily planner:

No Facebook ☐ No TV ☐ No Insta ☐

(Some things, like email and texts, cannot be quit altogether. So reduce them—plan on doing several hours of creative work and self-improvement before you check them. Then limit your daily checks from between one and four times per day.)

My clients are routinely amazed at how much better they feel by cutting out the junk—and how little they miss those things. So try it out today. Be confident.

4-Always have something to do

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a millionaire business owner or a waiter struggling through college—if you don’t have exciting or constructive things to do, you won’t feel purposeful, and you won’t feel confident. The simplest fix is to always have something to learn, something to perfect, something to accomplish, or simply something to enjoy.

So plan out plenty of career, fitness, and self-improvement goals to populate your weekly planning page. When you see a big list of potential accomplishments first thing in the morning, you feel confident just knowing that you know what you’re going to do!

Last but not least, make sure to include plenty of fun things you can schedule throughout the week— like dancing, skating, surfing, hiking, riding bikes, playing basketball, soccer, or volleyball; arts and crafts, traveling, painting, taking a guitar or drum lesson, taking a tour, taking a day trip to a nearby outdoor destination, going to a museum, rock climbing, yoga, acro-yoga, scheduling a massage, organizing a friend date for lunch or dinner, going to church, swimming, planning time to read your favorite new book, hiring a mentor, singing, acting, planning game night for your friends, etc. You get the idea.

Every day should have something fun. Every weekend should have something bigger. And it’s your responsibility to make these things happen, otherwise you’ll continue feeling small and boring and unloved. So plan out your week ahead every Sunday—career, fun/self love, health/fitness, procrastinations, and giving goals. Then reflect on your weekly plan every morning to pick out what you’ll actually do over the next 16 hours.

Plan for the most confident version of you possible.

5-Break your addictions

There’s something about telling yourself on a daily basis, “I’m too weak to make a better decision”, that saps your confidence. But that’s exactly what you’re telling yourself when you give into addiction.

Whether it’s smoking, pot, alcohol, porn, or even toxic relationships, it’s your responsibility to end the habits that reduce your confidence and that keep you locked in “little me” status. But that doesn’t mean you have to (or should) do it alone.—You can enlist the help of an accountability buddy or coach to dramatically increase your odds of a successful lifestyle change.

Also, set bite-size goals for quitting.

Instead of eating the elephant in one day, which historically only works for T-Rexes, start quitting day-by-day—setting specific goals in your daily planner for not doing the thing you struggle with: “don’t drink, don’t smoke,” etc. Put a fat checkbox next to this “not-to-do” goal, and strike it off at the end of a successful day, making sure to give yourself plenty of encouragement for making good decisions. (Having this reminder of your intention in a daily planner really helps the decision-making process.)

Then when you’ve gone strong for a week, write out a not-to-do goal for one whole week. When you’ve finished two consecutive weeks, be ambitious and write out a goal for one whole month. Then after that, do another. Then after that, do a quarter of a year; then a half year—which will be a full year. Then do another year. Voila: you’re quit.

Self encouragement

The one thing keeping most people from a successful quit is a lack of encouragement, which is something you can plan on giving yourself all throughout the day. So set five daily reminders on your smart phone or computer to encourage yourself and appreciate your efforts.

“Thank you so much! You’re doing an awesome thing, and I respect your decision. Thank you for giving me my confidence back.”

To make the goal even more concrete, write out ten checkboxes next to “encourage yourself!” in your daily planner. Then, when you’ve accomplished a goal, or have simply become conscious of a bunch of unchecked encouragement boxes, applaud your efforts, affirm your worth, and repeat empowering mantras.

Experiment with that kind of self-coaching and watch how easy it is to make good, confident decisions.

Conclusion

Feeling confident is a must when it comes to living out your dreams. But when you’ve gone months or years in a confidence drought, you have to force yourself to fill your life with high-value activities and to reject low-value habits despite how you feel. The first week will be hard, like anything. But you’ll regain the feeling of confidence in the first day when you commit to your massive-action plan. And by the end of the first month, you’ll be thinking smarter, walking taller, and committing fully to the lifestyle you know is best. You’ll actually be confident.

If you’re in need of one-on-one instruction to reclaim your confidence, consider my coaching program.

Written by Daniel Dowling
I came from nowhere. High school dropout, college dropout, army reject...no one would've expected me to come as far as I have, writing for the largest publications in the world, coaching Ivy League grads. But I did. And I'll show you how.