Confidence can be elusive – one day you have it, the next your palms sweat at the mere thought of giving a presentation at work. Some people are born with confidence, while others have a much harder time feeling good about themselves and what they do. If you fall in the latter category and could use a boost where confidence is concerned, we’ve compiled some simple strategies to help. Feeling better about yourself takes work, but it is possible and we have five simple steps to help get you there.
Confident people expect to win. They may not end up on top, but they don’t expect to be on the bottom either. So the first step in feeling more confident is believing that you’re capable. It can be frightening to think of yourself as a success – picturing yourself getting the job, winning the contract or getting the promotion – because the sting of disappointment is much greater when you can taste success. But that’s the risk you have to take if you want to tap into your confident side. If you don’t believe that you can do whatever it is you’re trying to do, and don’t expect that you’re going to succeed, your shot of getting there just diminished. You might not get what you were after but believing it’s possible is a much better option than giving up before you start.
Embrace the unexpected
Once you can get more comfortable expecting success, the next step is to learn to go with the flow when things don’t go your way. Confident people are ready for anything and don’t get flustered by much. When they expect to succeed – and then don’t, or they get a result they didn’t anticipate, they don’t retreat in embarrassment, they just keep moving forward. The more you face the unexpected head-on, the easier it will get to go through life feeling like you can handle anything that comes your way – the true mark of a confident person.
Trust your gut
This is a tough one, because if you’re lacking confidence you’re likely not used to going with your gut. In fact, you might be ignoring all sorts of signals you’re getting for fear of making the wrong decision. But in order to be confident you need to trust your instincts – they’re usually right. Confident people are good at making decisions because they don’t second-guess how they feel. They look inward for insight into which way to go, choose a direction and start moving. There may be bumps in the road and setbacks to deal with but rarely will they stand at the fork in the road and wait for an answer to fall out of the sky. And because answers rarely fall from the sky, we suggest making better use of your gut to make clear decisions that you can feel good about.
Like embracing the unexpected, taking risks will help give you a new perspective on how much you’re capable of. If you don’t push yourself or do things that scare you, you’ll never know how much you can handle. Don’t worry, you don’t have to jump out of any airplanes or swim with the sharks (unless you want to), but doing something every day that puts you slightly outside your comfort zone will help you feel more capable, confident and ready to take charge more often.
- Make small talk at work with someone you don’t know very well.
- Speak up in a meeting.
- Take a class to learn something new.
- Go somewhere solo – to dinner, a movie or a concert.
- Pitch a new idea to your boss.
Fake it until you make it
If all else fails, the old adage of faking it until you make it still holds true. Even if you don’t feel confident, you can still act confident, and often the former will follow the latter. People respond well to confidence, so the more you can act the part – smile, make eye contact, speak clearly, ask for what you want, be direct – the better you’ll fare, everywhere from work meetings to cocktail parties.