You might already know that I struggle with self-confidence and self-doubt. But what you might not know is that, in the last few months, I’ve felt my self-confidence increase beyond belief!
It’s hard to quantify something like self-confidence, so I don’t quite know how to explain the shift. But I feel like I’m finally coming into myself. I’m starting to back myself, believe in myself and be proud of myself in a way that I never have before.
It crept up on me and it’s only in hindsight that I can see it’s happened (day-to-day I could NOT feel any change) but I’m starting to talk to and think of myself in a totally different way. And I thought it might be helpful to share a few of the different things that have helped me build self-confidence!
There are already enough blog posts that talk about all of the superficial (and fleeting) ways you can increase self-confidence: dress well, stand up straight, fake it til you make it. The problem with this kind of advice is that it treats the symptoms, rather than the cause. So in this blog post, I’m going to talk about the things that have truly changed my self-confidence. I hope you find it helpful!
1. HIRING A COACH
Of all the things that have helped me build self-confidence, working with a coach has definitely had the biggest impact!
This time last year, my self-confidence was so low I barely recognise myself now (I actually wrote this post about self-confidence at the time, just in case you want a little insight into the way I was thinking).
I was about to open the doors to my online course Dream Habit (which made me freak the hell out – it was the first time I’d ever asked for money for something I wasn’t ‘qualified’ to do) and I was petrified that no one would buy my course OR that people would buy my course and think I had absolutely no idea what I was talking about!
I was also still actively keeping my blog a secret from many of my closest friends, petrified of their laughter (that never actually came) and NEVER believed I would be able to quit my full-time job for blogging (which I did in March this year). So basically, this time last year, my self-confidence didn’t exist. And I could have never imagined that I’d be where I am today.
My first coach Jen Carrington (who is absolutely lovely and I highly recommend!) helped me start to work through the crazy amount of self-doubt I had around blogging and gave me a bit of much-needed perspective on the imposter syndrome I was experiencing (I get SO many lovely emails from you guys but when I used to read them, I felt like you were all talking about someone much better than me).
And in June this year, I began working with another coach named Kit. One of the first things Kit had me do was stop using diminishing language I’d gotten in the habit of using when I was talking about my blog (it might look to some like modesty was actually fear of judgement and disapproval). And each week, he continues to help me open my eyes to everything I have to offer to the world.
There’s a lot more I could say about each of my coaching experiences and they way they’ve helped me grow as a person, but I’ll save that for another time! If you’ve been thinking of investing in a coach, I definitely recommend it. The money I’ve invested in coaching in the last 12 months has been the best money I’ve spent!
2. EXPLORING MY POTENTIAL INSTEAD OF DREAMING ABOUT IT
One thing that has really improved my self-confidence in the last few months has been doing.
Doing instead of planning. Doing instead of procrastinating. Doing instead of self-sabotaging. Doing instead of making excuses. Doing instead of complaining. Doing instead of feeling sorry for myself.
It feels so damn good to finally be doing all the things I kept just out of reach so I could tell myself I could easily get them if I wanted! If you’re not a perfectionist, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. But if you are, I’m sure you get it! As painful as it is, it’s easier to live in a world of unfulfilled potential than to open yourself up to the possibility that you have no potential.
It’s easy to tell yourself you would have gotten a better grade if you’d studied, than to study your hardest and see what happens. It’s easy to tell yourself you would be happier with your body if you ate healthy, than to commit yourself to eating healthy and see what happens. It’s easy to tell yourself your life would be better if you woke up early, than to wake up early and see what happens. It’s self-sabotage at it’s finest, so sneaky many of us don’t even realise it’s happening (“I just work better under pressure!”, “I just love chocolate too much”, “I’m always too exhausted to wake up early”).
I used to keep myself in a world of hopes and dreams because I believed that, unless I was doing something I was already good at, everyone would realise I’m not as smart as they’d always thought.
But why the hell am I putting pressure on myself to have it all figured out? Why the hell do I think I need to be good at everything already? And why the hell is it more important for me to live for others than to live for myself? These are the questions that have been on my mind in the last few months and they’re helping to get things into perspective!
We all *know* that it doesn’t matter what other people think of us (if they even think about us at all) and we all *know* that the only way to learn new things is to try new things. But I’m only just starting to really get it. To really live it.
And my self-confidence has dramatically improved because of it! Not because everything I do is amazing (I wish!) but because I’m willing to be a beginner and have stopped making ‘failure’ mean that I’m not good enough. I know it’s easier said than done and it has taken me YEARS of personal development to get to this point (and I’ve still got a way to go), but this year I’ve constantly been putting one foot in front of the other – even when my legs are trembling.
It’s helped me change my identity from being a dreamer to a doer. And by constantly doing the things I planned to do (instead of procrastinating on them), I’ve created a certain confidence and trust in myself that I won’t let myself down. And that has made all the difference!
3. NOTING MY THOUGHTS
There’s one particular skill I’ve learned through meditation that has really helped me build self-confidence. It’s called ‘noting’ and it’s pretty simple! This is the video I learned it from (I definitely recommend watching this if you want to give it a try) but basically all I do is practice acknowledging my thoughts for what they truly are – thoughts. Obviously, I think so many thoughts throughout the day that almost all of them go unacknowledged. But by noting a sliver of them as thoughts it helps separate me from my thinking. And when I am reminded that I am not my thoughts, it makes it that little bit easier to feel like I’m in control of them.
Negative self-talk is what creates low self-confidence. And I’ve found this technique has helped me pull myself out of negative thought loops more quickly than any other method I’ve ever used (like trying to switch a negative thought for a positive thought – which I feel is to abrupt to be effective). You don’t need a meditation practice for this to work, just watch the video and give it a try.
4. MOVING MY FOCUS AWAY FROM MY APPEARANCE
I know that most blog posts about self-confidence centre around the idea that if you try to look better, you’ll feel better. So to build self-confidence, improve your appearance. And while I DEFINITELY feel good when I think I look good, the appearance-based approach never worked for me for more than a few days!
My self-talk around my body was so negative that trying to look ‘good’ only made me put even more of a focus on everything I wanted to change. So it actually made my self-confidence even lower! And because ‘good’ is subjective, I constantly moved the target which meant I never felt satisfied – even though I was working my hardest!
It’s only been by moving my focus away from my appearance that I’ve been able to improve my confidence around it!
Until last year, the majority of my actions were driven by vanity (I thought that if I was skinnier and prettier, I’d finally feel like I was good enough). And healthy eating and exercise were no exception!
But last year, I decided to change my focus from vanity goals to performance goals. Steve had been telling me to do it for YEARS but I didn’t listen until I started training with a personal trainer (my PT wasn’t the one who suggested it and I honestly don’t know exactly what it was that made me decide to focus on strength goals rather than vanity metrics – maybe it was the frustration from years of focusing on my appearance but never achieving my goals).
At the same time, I finally began to eat properly. Before last year, I thought I was eating healthy (and by most people standards I was). But really, I was trying to eat as little as possible and workout as much as possible – all in a desperate attempt to finally feel like I was good enough.
My PT helped me see that I needed to eat about 50% more (in the ballpark of 2,000 calories per day) and helped me figure out the right amount of carbs, protein and fat to eat. And my body finally started to change.
Because I wasn’t focusing on my appearance, I wasn’t constantly assessing whether it was ‘working’ and whether it would be a ‘waste of effort’ (i.e. I wasn’t constantly assessing whether I might end up trying my hardest and still not feeling good enough) so I could actually stay consistent! But my increased self-confidence hasn’t come from my body changing, but because I stopped judging my worth on my appearance. Which stopped the constant criticism and judgement. Which also made it easier again to stay consistent!
I’m not sure if this has all made sense (I find it quite hard to articulate) but by moving my focus away from my appearance, I was finally able to change my mindset towards it. And it ended up changing anyway!
To try this one out for yourself, create healthy eating and exercise goals that are based on effort rather than result (e.g. three healthy meals per day instead of lose 5 kilos and a 40kg squat instead of 21% body fat – your consistency will help you get the result anyway and you’ll improve your self-confidence in the process).
5. BEING LESS JUDGEMENTAL OF OTHERS
This one is definitely a work in progress for me and I’m not going to pretend I’m even remotely good at it! But low self-confidence comes from negative self-talk and if you’re anything like me, your negative self-talk is often based around what you imagine other people must think of you. And if you’re in the habit of judging others, it’s a lot easier to feel like others are constantly judging you too!
I’ve been trying really hard (but often failing) to be less judgemental of other people, both in my own mind and when I’m talking to my friends. It’s hardest to stop it at the thought level, so at the moment I’m just focusing on trying to hold my tongue when I make a negative judgement about someone else. I feel like I’m slowly improving but I know it’ll take time to get better at this and change my default thought patterns!
The most insecure people are usually the most judgemental ones (as they’re trying to put others down so they can feel better about themselves). I know that as I become less judgemental it’s a sign that I feel more confident in myself and also that I’m becoming a kinder person too!
So there you go – these are the five things that have helped me build self-confidence in my twenties (particularly in the last year). I hope you’ve found it as helpful as you have practical!
P.S. If you’re a procrastinator, keep reading to learn about my online course for procrastinators called Get Out Of Your Own Way:
Take your life to the next level
Four years ago, I found myself trapped in a vicious cycle of procrastination and guilt. Whenever I tried to do simple life tasks (like going to the gym, eating right and organising my time) it felt like I was trying to move mountains!
After work, I was too exhausted to do anything more than make food and lay in bed watching another episode of my favourite show. I kept telling myself I deserved a break, but I never enjoyed it. I felt guilty for wasting my time but I didn’t stop (and when I did find myself with time to do the things I wanted, I just kept procrastinating – gahh!).
And I wish it stopped there, but then I beat myself up for procrastinating! I felt like I was behind everyone else and letting everyone down, so I procrastinated even more.
No matter how many hours I spent reading motivation articles on Pinterest or how many times I filled out a new planner, I just couldn’t make myself change – even though I knew I was the one stopping myself from progressing. And I had all the advice right in front of me!
And because this whole situation was frustrating AF (and I knew I was better than that, even though I didn’t have the evidence to prove it) I dedicated myself to figuring out how to stop sabotaging my own success.
After trying hundreds of different things, it finally clicked! And this year I’ve been able to quit my full-time job for blogging, I’m more productive and focused than I’ve ever been in my life and I’ve finally stopped feeling like I’m behind! Plus it’s actually easy to workout everyday and eat healthy (which I never thought would be possible).
And since everything I’ve learned has COMPLETELY changed my life, I decided to put the very best of it together in a step-by-step course!
My online course for procrastinators
Get Out Of Your Own Way is a self-paced online video course that gives you the tools and mindset shifts you need to stop procrastinating, follow through with all your plans and have the courage to finally pursue your dreams – even if your life is totally overwhelming and you have no idea what you want to do!
I’ll just let you know that this course won’t be for you if you’re looking for quick-fix procrastination tips (let’s be real – you’ve seen all those already and they haven’t worked) or you’re afraid to dig deep and uncover the real reasons you’ve been holding yourself back.
But if you’re ready to make a change and need someone to guide you through the very first step – it could be just the thing you need!
Wow, there is so much great advice in this post. I feel like I’ve made a big leap in self-confidence too over the last year, and used quite a few of the same things that you did to make it happen.
I definitely agree with hiring a coach & how helpful it can be. Having been on both sides of that in the last couple of years (as both a coach and a client, at different times) really helped me see how valuable this sort of relationship is. It’s not that we’re not able to do the things we work on with our coaches by ourselves, but having that dedicated time, accountability, and someone who can guide us along the way makes the process so much quicker and smoother.
Focusing on performance goals has made probably the biggest difference for me. Being a perfectionist as well, I always focused on those tasks from my to-do list that didn’t get done, which really hurt my self-confidence. So, I had to really start to consciously notice and appreciate all the things that I DID do, and that helped me shift my perspective so much.
Of course, this is always a work-in-progress for all of us, and right now, my focus is on less dreaming and planning, and more doing, so I loved reading your thoughts on it. Thanks for sharing all this!
This is some really great, practical advice. I appreciate you focus on things that will actually make you feel more confident in the long term, and not what society views as confidence boosters. I will be working on one or two of these at a time! Thank you!
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