Your self confidence affects just about everything in your life. How well you get along with people, your relationships with friends and family, as well as your job opportunities are all directly affected by how confident you feel about yourself. In fact, how confident you feel affects how well you enjoy your life!
People that don't feel good about themselves, people that lack self confidence, can find the prospect of a job interview terrifying. They experience poor relationships, if they have any real relationships at all. They find themselves in constant fear of losing their jobs because they aren't able to express themselves in front of their boss of in group situations.
Socially these people also struggle. How can they find someone to go out with when the mere idea of meeting new people petrifies them? Social events and encounters are painful illustrations of their lack of confidence.
Life doesn't have to be like this. With a change in perspective, a little help and some work, you can have the self confidence you desire. Here are seven simple steps to help you develop more self confidence.
1. Decide to make a Change
Once they've decided, nearly everyone finds making a change easier. Every change I've ever made, from getting in shape to learning how to be more personable, has been a result of deciding to make that change. All changes are relatively easy once you've decided to make them. So if you think you'd like to be more confident, make the decision to be more confident today. That leads us to step number two.
2. Why is it Important to You?
Once you've made a decision to change, in this case deciding to become more confident, its time to figure out why it's important to you. Why specifically do you want more confidence? Is it so that you can speak up in meetings at work? Is it so that you'll be able to meet someone to go out with? Is it so you'll be able to learn better at school or play a sport better? Whatever it is you need to understand and define it so that you can motivate yourself with it. This leads to step three.
3. Make it a Goal
Here's where the rubber meets the road. Many people know they need to change and decide to change. They know what result they want out of the change but they don't make it a goal. They wish their life would change, they think their life should change but they don't take the steps needed to make the change. When you make a goal you not only decide what you want your outcome to be but you also figure out the steps you will need to do to achieve it.
Now this can't be merely a mental exercise. In order to make your goal achievable you need to write down your outcome. Once you've written down your outcome you need to write down the steps you need to do to achieve it. Writing down your goal and the steps you need to achieve it does two things for you. First it makes your goal a real tangible thing instead of merely a dream. Second, writing down the steps gives you the ability to make corrections as necessary to help you stay on track.
For example your outcome is to be able to speak up more in business meetings. Your outcome might be “I will express my opinion in every business meeting. " The steps you might outline to achieving this goal might be:
1. Prepare for meetings and know what topics are going to be discussed.
2. Talk to someone or find someone to model who speaks well at meetings you attend. (see step 4)
3. Prepare a one-line comment on one of the topics.
4. Practice what you will say in the theater of your mind (see step 5)
5. Express your comment at the meeting.
Now you have a goal that is achievable you might need some help. So that leads us to step 4.
4. Find Someone to Model
From the time we are babies we model other people's actions and behaviors. Have you ever done something and after noticing what you've done said to yourself, “That is exactly what my mother/father would have done?" That is a form of modeling, just at an unconscious level.
A more empowering form of modeling is when you find someone that has the characteristic(s) you want to have and purposefully model it. If you want to be able to speak well in front of groups, find someone who is good at speaking in front of groups and model her behavior. See how she stands, how she holds her head, how she speaks and uses her hands. If you are a man looking for a way to meet women, find a man who is already good at meeting women and model his behavior. What does he say? How does he dress? What are his mannerisms?
Whatever it is, there are lots of models to choose from. They include friends, acquaintances, family members, professional coaches, training videos and just about anyone else on the planet. An important point to remember is that the best model is one you like and you are able to adapt your own personality to.
Once you have someone to model its time for step five.
5. Visualize Your Success
From master pianists to NASCAR drivers, all people who are good at something have one thing in common, they practice. If you want to be good at talking in front of people you have to practice. If you want to be good at conversing in social situations you have to practice. Of course if you go about whatever you want to do without rehearsing it can be quite nerve wracking. In fact if you try something that you are not good at yet and fail completely it is possible your progress might be set back indefinitely.
So how can you prepare for a successful outcome? You can visualize your success in the theater of your mind. Let's say you want to be able to speak up at business meetings. Find a place where you can sit or lie down comfortably without being disturbed. Now relax. Use some progressive muscle relation or just tell yourself I am relaxed and calm, relaxed and calm, over and over again until you are relaxed and calm.
Now play a movie in your mind of how you would like for the events to transpire. Make the movie as vivid and clear as possible. Use your imagination to see the details, hear the voices and other sounds in the room. Feel how you would sit. Then in your mind address the group as if you already had the confidence you are striving to develop. Notice how you appear, how your heart beats, how you breathe. Make the adjustments necessary to achieve the outcome you desire. If you are having problems seeing yourself accomplishing the task(s) well, focus on the why, the potential benefits you'll get from achieving your goal. Practice over and over again until you have that image etched firmly in your mind.
Once you've practiced with visualization it's time for step six.
6. Go Do It
You've decided to change. You know the reason(s) you want to change. You know your motivation. You have a model and you've prepared in the theater of your mind. Now its time to give it a try. If what you want to do is speak in your business meetings at work, give it a try. Even if it's only a few words or to comment on someone else's comments, as long as you are doing something that is moving you toward your goal, just do it. If you are looking to meet more people you might start by smiling at people you meet and saying “hi". You will become more confident through the process of stretching yourself. This will move you toward your goals.
Now that you've actually done what you set out to accomplish its time for the final seventh step.
7. Decide that Everything is Feedback
When we start new things, from playing a new sport to meeting new people, we are not going to be excellent at it from the very start. Everything takes practice. When you do something you are not good at (yet) you are stretching yourself, you feel uncomfortable and you will make some mistakes.
Developing confidence in whatever it is you want to develop it in will also take practice. And just like learning anything, you will sometimes do things that you may not have preferred to do if you were “perfect" at it. You will make some mistakes.
When that happens remind yourself that mistakes are the way we all learn. A mistake is not failure, it is merely feedback. By calling it feedback you have re-framed or redefined your results.
So from now on instead of thinking of having “failed" when things don't work out “right" merely observe what happens and call them “results". Understand the feedback you have been given by your results and apply it to approaching your task differently the next time. The key is to remember that no matter what results you achieve, when you define them as feedback, they become either actions you want to do again or actions you don't want to do again. You now are experiencing feedback instead of failure.
Once you start seeing your results as feedback you'll begin adjusting your actions to match what you want to achieve. This will help you persist until you achieve your desired outcome. If you are committed to this process you will be able to build life long confidence in any area of your life.
So let's review the seven steps.
1. Decide to change.
2. Decide why it's Important
3. Understand Your Motivation
4. Find Someone to Model
5. Visualize Success
6. Go Do It
7. Decide that Everything is Feedback
That's it, seven simple steps that can move you toward confidence in any area of you life. Seven easy steps toward achieving more out of life. So what are you waiting for? Why not start on your life long confidence journey today?
Wil Dieck is the founder of Total Mind Therapy, a combination of hypnosis, NLP, breathing techniques from the martial arts and visualization used for goal setting. His practice is located in San Diego, California. For more information about Wil and his practice please go to http://www.TotalMindTherapy.net