I would describe myself as a confident person. This doesn’t mean conceited — I don’t think I’m better than anyone else. I just have a clear sense of who I am, and what I’m bringing to the table. I just believe that I’m worthy of respect — from others and myself.
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It hasn’t always been this way. I was a very shy kid, and didn’t fare much better in high school. Nerdy, artistic, and soft-spoken wasn’t a combination that resonated with other kids. The one place that I was confident, was when I was riding horses.
Looking back, it’s the root of my confidence, my willingness to take risks, to fail, and to get back up and try again. Confidence isn’t being certain of one’s own perfection. Nobody is perfect. But this three step formula will not only help you build your self-confidence, it will help you resource yourself with that self-confidence, even in difficult moments.
1. Baby Steps
Set yourself up for success. As my grandmother would say, “Don’t try to eat the whole cake in one sitting.” Take small, measurable actions. If you have a huge project that seems overwhelming, break it down into bite-sized tasks. Perhaps put them into order — or a timeline — and do them deliberately, one at a time.
By taking baby steps — and taking them regularly — you can make consistent progress. You don’t change your whole life all at once. You don’t need to remodel your whole house today — or deliver a TED talk tomorrow. You just need to begin. Clean out one drawer. Have one conversation where you hone your message. Small steps done consistently and well lead to big results.
2. Follow Through With What You Say You Are Going To Do
Did you say yes? Follow through. Better yet, become the person who is renowned for following through. When you do what you say you’ll do, you become the person on whom others can rely. Even better, you become someone on whom you can depend. This creates a tone of respect in all interactions: in work, in family, with others, with yourself.
You don’t need to shoulder the whole load. What you commit to may be small at first (see baby steps, above). Whatever you say yes to, follow through. When you are accountable to yourself and others, you will blossom. When your words and actions are in integrity with one another, your confidence will soar.
Once you did what you set out to, once you took your baby steps, it’s time to celebrate. This may seem silly. It may seem like your accomplishments aren’t that big a deal. Celebrate anyway. Now, I’m not saying you need to pop champagne every time you do the laundry. But celebrate the process as much as the result.
Each of those stepping stones will have an impact, so acknowledge their worth. Especially when you are building your confidence, it can be easy to downplay your achievements. But don’t undermine your hard work and diligence. The beginning is always the hardest part, so even if you haven’t come very far, you’re worthy of celebration. Get into the habit of celebrating yourself. You might even write down your accomplishments in a small notebook to keep track of everything you’ve overcome.
Self-confidence isn’t a magic potion. It doesn’t happen overnight and it isn’t a cure-all. But by taking small actions on your own behalf, you can step into a sense of your unique value and develop a new level of self-respect.