Read Time: 11 min
I went through long periods of life with low confidence and today there are still times when I will get down. I used to think confidence was either something you were born with or not… and I just didn’t have a lot of it. That is totally false.
In this guide you will learn actionable steps to take control of your confidence, put a plan in place on how to recover it when you’re down and boost it to keep it charged up and firing for long periods of time.
We can sit around and hope to have more confidence one day, or we can take action and do something about it now, to BUILD it, brick by brick. One of these options will have results, the other most likely will not…
My wife and I recently underwent an international move from Toronto to San Francisco. While we are incredibly excited to be in the city that radiates high performance, tech and a healthy / green lifestyle (our greatest passions), it’s been a taxing few months getting here.
My fitness routine suffered, nutrition was out of whack, sleep was off, the endless administrative and paper work prevented me from making any real progress on my blog and business. Coming into a city brand new, knowing only a few people is a humbling experience.
I also lost 10 pounds, which as a skinny guy who worked tirelessly to add some muscle… was devastating. (I know what you’re thinking; I’d love to lose 10 pounds. Only lifelong skinny folks will get this).
While there are far worse problems to happen in the world, my confidence took a bit of a beating.
The difference between my past years and now though, is I know what to do to fire up my confidence again.
In fact, I literally went to a coffee shop and wrote down exactly what I was going to do.
This guide will help show you how confidence works and how to treat it like a muscle you need to exercise and build. You’ll be able to take away some actionable steps so that you can put your own plan in place.
I’d like to say you don’t but truthfully, if you want to perform as your highest self, you do. It’s hard to be your best and do your best when you’re feeling down.
Whether we like it or not, there is a direct link between confidence, productivity, and results.
Greater confidence makes us believe more that we can do something, which makes us more charged to dive into our work boosting our productivity and getting results. High confidence gives us the energy to feed off of, to keep persisting and pushing towards goals even when things get challenging.
Now there is a big difference between confidence and ego. Ego, in an extreme sense, is where you basically view yourself in a God-like state who can do no wrong. You will tend to block out others opinions, feedback and thoughts that may challenge you even though it may be exactly what you need.
This isn’t productive. I personally think it is best to take on an attitude of a “humble high confidence”, keeping us motivated and driven but open to others.
Nobody in life is perfect at everything; there is always room for improvement and feedback in everything we do.
Boosted confidence also silences that inner critic who likes to tell us we can’t do things. This inner critic can tend to overshadow our positive thoughts when down.
I’ve learned that guy, our inner critic, will always be there. It’s up to us to take the steps and train ourselves to not listen to him. With our confidence boosted, he will go hide in the corner until the next time we are feeling down.
Once we’re feeling down again, he will suddenly pop out and tell us why we can’t do this, we’re wasting our time, no one is going to like it etc…
Can you see why we need to keep our confidence boosted? Let’s move on…
Progress, fitness, health and creating momentum in your life.
These have all been studied to be core factors in influencing confidence in human psychology.
Emphasize your fitness. For someone low on confidence, this is probably the first place I would start.
Working out is one of the biggest mood enhancers you can possibly do. The benefits can be seen almost instantly. I like many others have had lots of days where nothing goes well. These days are frustrating, exhausting and create a feeling of wanting giving up which naturally takes a hit on your confidence.
It’s on these days I ensure I go to the gym and crush my workout. The psychological boost from the massive amount of positive endorphins released in a workout has me walking out feeling ready to take on the world again.
This almost never fails.
Working out gives you one of the best positive hormonal responses you can get, not only boosting you physically but also mentally. Doing it at the right intensity levels will boost our brain function, an added bonus to stimulating our confidence.
If we truly want to leverage the benefits of this, we need to make it a part of our lifestyle. Working out here and there is better than nothing but embracing a healthy and fit lifestyle, with challenging workouts will give us a momentum of confidence we can ride on.
It will also give us something to strive towards, which brings the next biggest builder of confidence.
There is a local clothing store in Toronto with the branding message of “Dress Better. Do Better”.
Sound superficial? Sure, but it is also 100% true if we dig into human psychology. Everyone has been told not to judge a book by its cover but we are HARD WIRED to do exactly this. People’s first impressions of us will be influenced by what we are wearing.
A great resource on this is the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini.
I’ve never met anyone whose confidence hasn’t been boosted when they know they look good in what they are wearing.
How does your wardrobe look? I donated half my clothes to Goodwill before moving to SF. . It can be scary, but I was simply not feeling a lot of them anymore and decided to donate anything I thought I just looked “ok” in. You really don’t need a mountain of clothes in your closet…
One of the best pieces of shopping advice I ever got (never would have heard myself say that 10 years ago) was to buy HALF the amount of clothes Overall but spend twice the amount on the smaller amount of clothes you do buy. (Financially this nets out to the same amount).
This ensures you are building your wardrobe with only quality items, you look good in. I am currently re-building my wardrobe using this strategy.
Tony Robbins says the feeling of achievement and happiness in humans is charged up THE MOST… by progress.
“ If you aren’t growing, you are dying. It turns out that happiness that is true and lasting is quite simply this: progress. Progress = Happiness! If you are growing, and giving, you will be happy. If you are moving forward in your life, if you are progressing personally, professionally, emotionally, spiritually—you will be happy.” Read more
Everyone has that list of tasks… The one with everything you meant to do but never actually did. Then every time you look at it, you get upset and disappointed at yourself.
That feeling of disappointment comes from a lack of progress.
If we want to boost up our confidence levels (not to mention happiness), we should aim to start creating some momentum in our life.
During my move to San Francisco, my confidence went down because I was no longer making progress on my fitness and business goals.
What did I do? I made a plan. I wrote down the steps and actions I needed to take to start getting that momentum back.
Think of it like your own personal progress bar. Whenever we see a progress bar filling up on our phone, laptop or whatever we are waiting for, we can’t help but feel a little bit of joy every-time it fills in further.
What do you have in your life that you want to make progress on? That would make you more confident?
What do you need to do to get there?
Progress only will happen by conscious choice. It is very easy to stay stagnant. It is very easy to keep things exactly as they are in our life, without wanting to improve or grow.
There may come times in our life where we need to hold the course for a bit, but we best not stay to long.
“It is only in stagnation that we wilt like a flower.” – Tony Robbins.
Confidence is created by progressing forward and sometimes taking risks that may scare us.
Each time you take a risk to progress forward in your life, it becomes much easier for the next one.
What are things in your life that boost up your confidence?
Not everything around us will build our confidence up.
If we are on a plan to charge up our confidence, it’s a good idea to identify and action things that may detract from it.
The biggest battle will be with your own internal mind. If we can conquer our own mind in our journey to high confidence, we can much more easily ignore any negativity that may come up externally in our life.
If we are in a state of feeling down though, we need to more carefully guard and filter what we are absorbing from people and the world around us. Everyone knows someone around them who has to criticize and put down the ideas, plans and thoughts of others. Life will always have the haters of the world… It’s as safe a bet as when you turn on the evening news you will find almost nothing but negative stories and things gone wrong in the world.
When I’m in a confidence re-charge mode, I try to limit my time with both these types of people and influences to protect my mental mood and energy. I implement a “No BS” policy. For more info on this check out my article on decluttering your physical and virtual worlds.
What are some things in your life that detract from your energy, mood and confidence in yourself?
I start with the above to get your mind thinking on how each of these sections relate to your current life. Now it’s time for you to take over…
Create a plan, don’t rely on hope that your confidence levels will all of a sudden one day appear.
Treat confidence like a skill you are trying to build. It’s not just something you have or don’t have; you can train yourself to be more confident. Life isn’t always perfect and life can throw a lot of unexpected events. Naturally your confidence will go up and go down from time to time… Some days you will be strutting down the street and other days walking with your head between your legs.
If we treat confidence as a skill though, then we can build and develop on it. Then much like learning a new talent, or riding a bike, if we find our new confidence skill lagging, we can execute on a plan to get it back.
Grab some paper, head to a coffee shop, grab your favorite tea or Americano and start writing down what you need to do. Be as specific as possible with this. Generic goals like “go to the gym more” are very easy to back out of. Write down exactly what you will do at the gym, when you will do it, what you will eat etc… When you have a very detailed plan, it doesn’t really leave any excuses or questions to not execute on it.
Emphasize your fitness. Never make the excuse “ I’m too busy to workout”. If you are truly swamped, your mindset should instead be that you are way too busy to not be working out. Working out creates room for more productivity and confidence in our life, not less.
What are some goals you have in life that you want to accomplish? What do you need to do to create progress to get there?
Progress is Confidence. Being stagnant will drain you. Progress will also create momentum to help build a wave of confidence you can ride on.
The thing about creating progress and momentum in your life is… once you take the initial steps to start it moving, you will NOT want to stop. It will also make your rest times feel much more earned and enjoyable.
Creating progress, momentum and confidence in our life is a choice we make. It’s up to us to decide to take that first step forward.
Even after just filling out the plan above on what you are going to do you will get a major boost. Trust me.