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Seven steps to building your confidence

More than most fields, success in the arts depends on having the confidence to choose your own path and stick to it.
Seven steps to building your confidence


When you have a confidence issue, sometimes it feels like you are standing outside a room of confident people, looking in, and you can’t get in.  You feel like an imposter  Sometimes it feels like you have become a passenger of life and not a driver. Sometimes it feels like you are turning up for life but not living it. 

The truth is that we can all get in that room. We always have the answer within ourselves, it’s just that one person decides to do the work and the other doesn’t.

One person takes responsibility for achieving confidence while the other assumes confident people are lucky people.  Lack of confidence causes some women, in particular, to self-sabotage.  Even successful people struggle with imposter syndrome that stops them taking the next step.

The foundation of confidence lies in self-efficacy.  Self-efficacy is our belief in our ability to achieve a task.  When we set a goal to achieve a task, we automatically increase our self-efficacy which then increases our self-esteem, (which is our overall perception of ourselves) which then deepens our self-confidence.  So in essence the way to build confidence is to build self-efficacy.

Step One: Know Yourself

To start the journey you need to know yourself.  And to do this you will need to do some soul searching. Techniques of understanding yourself include self-reflection exercises, strength spotting, personal brand work or visiting your core values.  It’s a good idea to write these down and keep them at hand.

Step Two: What Do You Want?

This is one of the hardest steps in the piece.  Many people searching for confidence are living a life not aligned with who they are and their values they hold.  So it’s important to identify and articulate what life do we want to lead? Sometimes that involves answering the questions: What is missing? Or what are the conditions and circumstances in which we are in our sweet spot?

Step Three: What’s Holding You Back?

Now that we have a sense of who we are and what we want, we need to recognize what is holding us back from what we want.  What obstacles are in our way? Are they tangible? Is it our mindset? Is it a story we are telling ourselves? If so can we put aside that story and tell ourselves another one.

Step Four:  What’s The Goal?

Now you are at the point where you have to start turning thoughts into action.  Goal setting is the pivotal point in building confidence.  Articulating what you want and making a commitment to achieving it, is the bravest step and more often than not people get stuck on step 3 and return to step 1… for more soul searching.  My advice to you is to stick to your guns, set the goals and keep moving forward.

Step Five: What’s The Plan?

So how will you achieve those goals?  Next it’s time to be realistic about your strategy.  In my view there are two important components to this 1) Mindset and 2) Inventory.  Mindset involves becoming mindful of the language we are using in our daily life and recognizing the impact that negative language can have.  For example using words like “productive” instead of “busy” and “energized” instead of “overwhelmed”.  Inventory consists of working out what resources we have both internally and externally to help us get towards what we need.

Step Six: How Will You Achieve it?

There’s no avoiding this step, there’s no quick fix. The only way to stick to your plan and achieve the goal is to work very very hard.  There are no free lunches in life, and there is no easy road.  The achievements are always smaller than the work we put into them.  So once again, the only way to get there is to work, work and work.

Step 7: What Will It Look Like When You Get There?

It’s not enough in life to achieve and move on without stopping for a moment to acknowledge and celebrate what we have achieved.  When we celebrate achievement we are actually telling our brain to recognize that self-efficacy has increased and that then sets in motion the increase in self-confidence.  It is only with this final step, the self-confidence boost will kick in.

So that’s what it looks like, it’s seven deceptively simple steps, but the key to achieving them is action.  Confident people are not lucky people they have worked hard and have made the active choice.  So if you want to build your confidence, make the choice and come and join me in the room.

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Jessica Symes

Monday 26 October, 2015

About the author

Jessica Symes is the principal of Symes Group, which provides transformative leadership development programs and executive coaching for individuals, businesses and organisations.