We could all use an extra boost of confidence! Here, experts share easy ways to do hard things and increase your joy, resilience, and well-being.
While we tend to think that confidence spurs us to act, it’s actually the other way around: Action boosts motivation, says expert Jennifer Shannon. That’s why she suggests a “5-minute jump-start.” Take any task, even something as simple as browsing a dating site, and set a timer for 5 minutes. “This allows you to reward yourself for getting started, not getting it done — that’s where confidence begins.”
You can do hard things.
To increase grit — the passion and perseverance to set longterm goals — just “chunk” tasks into more manageable parts, says expert Louisa Jewell. “For a long time, I believed I could never write a book,” she says. “So I started with a paragraph, then I posted an article on a friend’s blog. Every time you consciously tell yourself, ‘I wrote a paragraph,’ ‘I wrote an article,’ you’re sending a message to your brain that short-circuits ‘imposter syndrome’ by convincing yourself that you can do bigger things.”
Find clues in details.
Rather than give “luck” credit for your successes, acknowledge that you moved the needle, urges Jewell. “And if something went great, ask for feedback to learn what exactly made it go well,” she says. “Once you know, you can replicate that, building your confidence.” The same principle applies to criticism: Getting specific feedback helps you focus on process over outcome, increasing your willingness to try again.
Tap your think tank.
We could all use a “confidence klatch,” a small group of friends to lean on, says Jewell, who meets with hers once a month and to whom she credits with helping her through a divorce. “I remember a friend said to me, ‘Let’s go for a walk; I’m seeing you doubt yourself and I don’t think it’s good for you.’” When it comes from someone you trust, you’re much more open to advice that lifts you up.
Call it play.
It sounds so simple, but just calling a new challenge “play” or an “experiment” increases your confidence instantly. “This opens you up to possibility, taking the stress off of your shoulders,” explains Jewell. “You’re much more confident and assured when your brain is in a positive place.”
See the happy future.
Perhaps the most powerful way to boost confidence is to reframe failure, says expert Catherine Tinsley, PhD. In a yearlong field experiment she conducted with Tupperware, the sales force was given two different video messages — half watched a video about how a “failure” is future success in disguise. The other half heard a more typical message about what a great place Tupperware is to work. After six months, the sales force that heard the “future success” message had 22 percent higher sales and 27 percent more productivity. Says Tinsley, “Just normalizing failure increases our desire to try, and that’s what courage is: faking it until you feel it.”
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.