LET GO OF ‘PERFECT’
Improving your confidence, and so your life overall, is a noble goal. However, it’s important to remember that there is no endpoint. Even when you reach the goals that you have set for yourself, new ones will take their place. Plus, no matter how long or hard you work at something, it will never be completely perfect – and that’s OK. Accepting this fact of life will set you free to enjoy the process of making progress.
DON’T TAKE THINGS TOO SERIOUSLY
It’s good to be motivated and focused, but you needn’t lose your sense of humour along the way. If you suffer any kind of setback, whether it’s a late train or a bad date, try to find something funny about the situation. When you decide not to take things too seriously, these frustrations will lose a lot of their power to derail you. On difficult days, laughter is the best medicine for the soul.
TAKE TIME TO UNPLUG
For all its benefits in connecting us to friends and loved ones, social media can be toxic to confidence. While it undoubtedly allows us to share happiness and positivity with those around us, it also remains open to abuse by those who want to brag about themselves or to bring others down. Rather than comparing your life and achievements with those of others (which, don’t forget, have been artfully presented online), take some steps to reduce the time you spend engaging with them. Try unfollowing people you may barely know or like, or even deleting the most addictive apps from your phone. When you take a break from all the online hubbub, you’ll be able to focus on who and what is truly important to you in real life.
STOP COMPARING YOURSELF
The desire to do and be better is a positive trait. But continually striving for a perceived version of perfection can stop you from being happy with who you already are and prevent you from seeing all the positive things in your life. A common perfectionist tendency is to compare yourself to others. This may either take the form of direct comparison, such as, ‘Sarah is more successful in her job than I am,’ or of general comparison along the lines of, ‘I wish I could be more like Ben.’ Either way, in seeing others as somehow better than you, you are moving your focus away from your own positives. In trying to be like other people, you stop yourself from being the best version of you. Instead, think about the areas of your life you would like to improve, and then work on those. Everybody starts from different points in life, which makes comparison pointless: what matters is that you are making progress on a path you have chosen for yourself.
The thought of exercise can be daunting, especially if your confidence is low. Joining a gym or going to a group class can seem like the last thing you would want to do. But exercise can be as simple as going for a walk. Just one 30-minute stroll each day can significantly improve your health and emotional well-being. You could fit this in on the way to work, at lunchtime, or whenever feels right for you. The best walks are in daylight, in natural surroundings. Not only will being outdoors offer you a natural boost, helping you feel better and lifting your spirits, but the exercise itself will also produce endorphins, making you feel great. If you happen to see your body shape improving too, that’s bound to give your confidence an extra lift.
The simple act of smiling releases endorphins, the body’s natural feelgood drug – and studies have shown that a person’s mood begins to reflect the emotion that their face is communicating. So even if you don’t feel like it, turning up the corners of your mouth into a smile will not only boost your mood, it will make you appear friendly and confident to those around you. Win–win!
Sometimes we all forget the wisdom contained in the line, ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get.’ Confident and successful people go for what they want and seek to get what they think they deserve. Whether it’s a date or a pay rise, the worst that can happen is that you get a ‘no’, but until you ask the question, you’ll never truly know the answer. Instead of assuming, go and find out!
LEARN SOMETHING NEW
Whether it’s taking driving lessons, learning a new language or discovering a new hobby, becoming skilled at something new can lead to increased self-esteem. Admittedly, it takes courage to be a beginner at something and to acquire new skills, but the satisfaction of venturing out of your comfort zone and being able to do something well can make you feel really good about yourself. Is there an instrument you have always wanted to play or a sport you fancy trying? Perhaps you might prefer to learn something practical like baking or gardening? Research shows that people who continue to learn throughout their lives are more optimistic and have a higher sense of self-worth. Plus, going to a class is a great way to enhance your social life.
CONFIDENCE IS PREPARATION
When the pressure of deadlines, meetings, phone calls and long hours builds up, we doubt our ability to stay on top of things. In turn, this causes a dip in confidence. Unfortunately, not only does this get in the way of an effective and satisfying working life, but it can also have a knock-on effect on your personal life. Perhaps the simplest way to reduce this feeling of pressure is to plan and prepare in advance. Pack your lunch the night before so that you’re not rushing to put it together in the morning. Choose your outfit, so that you’re not delayed by deciding what to wear. Make a list of the tasks you want to complete, so that when you get to your place of work, or to school, your day is already mapped out. Of course, there will be times when your planning is disrupted by unexpected events, and you will have to adapt, but taking these preliminary steps will give you a firm foundation of confidence that your day is set up to go well.