The first step to increased confidence is being clear about what you want and how to get it.
Researching, networking, and getting to know yourself are only the first few steps to becoming more confident, but they make all the difference.
In the last two blog posts I’ve discussed the five steps—what I call the 5 C’s—to claiming confidence, but now it’s time to actually learn how to claim it! The first step, which I introduced a little bit more in my last post, is Clarity. Why does it come first? It’s all about defining what you want and how to get it. It’s like creating a blueprint before you build a house. Without knowing how to want to build it, you could end up with a crooked shack instead of your dream home.
To start gaining Clarity, collect information. Let’s use an example of exploring careers (modify this example for the type of clarity you seek). Today it’s easy to go online and start researching job titles and descriptions, but for real insights go one step further—talk to people in the industry. Most people are happy to talk to others about what they do. They are in their industry for a reason and if you can find somebody with years of experience under their belt, they can give you an idea of how the industry works and what trends they’re observing. Oftentimes you can gain some experience in an industry of your interest by helping out at an event or finding a mentorship type of connection. Before talking to somebody, brainstorm a list of questions to ask them. As you collect information, consider the following:
What interests me?
What disinterests me?
What traits are considered valuable in this industry?
How can I practice and strengthen those traits?
Research the statistics—In the example of exploring career options, you’d want to uncover what is the salary range for someone just beginning to someone who has worked in the industry for a few years? What qualifications are required for higher level positions? What is a typical workweek like? Learn what a lifestyle in the industry really looks like, and whether or not it is something you would be happy with. For other scenarios, develop a list of questions to help you become knowledgeable better prepared for your endeavor.
When you feel sufficiently prepared, you will feel more confident in moving forward. Note the word sufficiently. Waiting until you feel 100% prepared can become procrastination. Know that there is always more that you can do but at some point you’ll just have to take the leap.
Once you’ve done your research and have a game plan, practice your decision-making skills. Many confident people are able to make quick decisions and correct the course as needed. Know that whatever choices you make, it is likely that your plans will be adjusted anyway, so don’t stress over making the wrong choice. Learn how to correct your actions as needed. Restaurant menus are an easy way to practice and get more comfortable with quick decision-making. Instead of obsessing over the myriad of choices, I give myself a small window of time to make a decision and then assure myself that it didn’t have to be the perfect decision. Click to learn more about how the length of time for decision-making affects confidence.
Practice self-reflection. Consider the choices that you’ve made throughout your life and what makes you tick. Knowing your values, strengths, weaknesses, and key motivational drivers will give you power over the things that might weaken your course. Stop comparing yourself to others and learn instead, to admire them. Do you feel pangs of envy when you come across somebody who appears to have a more interesting career or lifestyle? Think about why you feel that way—what do you want that they have, and how can you be a better version of yourself to get it? Read more about replacing envy with Mudita (“rejoicing in the good fortune of others”) here.
Finally, consider what words of advice your “future best self” would share with you. Future projection is a valuable, grounding and affirming way to keep you moving forward in the right direction and remind you of what you want. Tara Mohr has a great visualization exercise for tapping into your Inner Mentor in her book, Playing Big (or search the web for future self visualization exercises).
Find something to aim for and don’t be discouraged if your course of action changes—focus on moving confidently forward and being your best self every day. Bringing Clarity to your direction and your actions will build your confidence and set you in the right direction!