When I was in my early twenties, I often asked older people for advice on how to get ahead. One common one they gave was, “Be more confident”. Honestly, it was probably the most frustrating thing I heard those days because I kept thinking, “How?” I already knew I needed to be more confident; I just didn’t know how to go from the girl who was constantly tongue tied and afraid of saying the wrong thing to the one who could hold her head up and speak or take opportunities.
We’re constantly being told to “be confident”, and it’s a great thing for women of our generation, but many don’t know exactly how to make that happen. At one time, I didn’t either. Few people are born confident. Thankfully, I did learn how to be more confident, so I know that anyone can learn how.
If, like I once did, you have no idea how to go about it, here are some of the things that helped me to walk taller, literally and figuratively.
– Decide to get out of your comfort zone
Everything starts with a decision, after all. Many things didn’t start happening until I deliberately put myself in unfamiliar situations. If you wouldn’t ordinarily talk to a stranger, do it. What do you have to lose? Raise your hand at your next meeting. Post your art/skill online. As they say, ‘do it afraid’, literally.
– Put your best foot forward
You don’t need to spend big money on expensive outfits and beauty products. But you do need to be particular about being groomed/neat. At least, bathe regularly, practice good oral hygiene, and wear clean clothes. You’ll find that you feel more confident when you’re well put-together.
– Write out what you want/how you want to be
Visualise it often until you can almost ‘see’ it clearly with your eyes open. Knowing what you want and where you want to go is a vital step to becoming skilled or knowledgeable in a subject. It fills you with a sense of purpose, which is key to being confident, making you one of those people described as ‘knowing where they’re going’.
Ever noticed how you’re more likely to shrink back when you don’t know what others are talking about or you’re not sure of your knowledge? I was. You’d be surprised by how much knowledge boosts confidence. If you don’t know it or can’t do it, learn! Thank God for the internet! Between our darling Google and more education-focused platforms like Coursera, the sky is your limit. Choose to keep learning as long as you’re alive.
– Develop resilience
Learn that it’s okay to fail. Even more importantly, learn how to rise again no matter how many times you fail. Resilience is the mark of true strength in the face of life’s challenges. It gives you confidence in any situation, knowing that no matter what happens, you can bounce back. Last last, you’ll hear a few “nos” but no one will remember it a year from now, and one “yes” is often all you need anyway.
– Change your inner dialogue
Whatever others have told you doesn’t matter. Whatever happened in your past is just in your past. Focus on the present and the future with a positive mind-set. One way to do that is to consciously change your inner dialogue. Remind yourself often that you’re just as good/worthy as anyone else.
– Keep your circle positive
One of the most striking things about confident people is that they are surrounded by encouragers or were raised by at least one encouraging adult. Constructive criticism is good, even necessary, for your growth and confidence. But constant criticism and negativity from close quarters will hold you back from becoming your best, most confident self. Be deliberate about surrounding yourself with positive people.
– Fake it till you make it
Now, I’d rather have you do the hard work of building confidence from the inside out. But if all else fails, which is highly unlikely anyway, just fake it! No, I don’t mean you should lie about your abilities or credentials. But I hope you’ll walk with your head held high, make eye contact, and give firm handshakes. Even if you don’t feel like it. And then, reach out for that opportunity you’ve always wanted.
Here’s to more confidence, and the amazing life that comes with it.