The Confidence Conundrum

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An essential factor in successful change is confidence, or really to achieve anything. You have to believe that your goal is possible for you to achieve, or you won’t do the work and quit when it starts getting tough. Why would you waste all that time and effort if you are just going to fail anyway? Competence, past success, builds confidence; but you need confidence to develop competence. So if you have only ever failed in the past how do you break into this cycle?

Positive affirmation is a popular method to build your initial confidence. And while I agree that changing your self-talk is important, positive affirmations have a serious potential side-effect, cockiness. Over confidence can be just as bad as a lack of it; why bother with all that hard work when you will succeed anyway? And then your subsequent failure will just reinforce your initial lack of confidence, or convince you that you didn’t affirm positively enough! In any case, incorrect amounts of confidence will result in you not doing the hard work needed to achieve change (and yes, hard work is the secret to success).

A better way to start building your confidence is with mini-successes, and habits are the perfect way to do this. A complete overhaul of your diet might seem impossibly daunting, but habit change is based on magnifying the benefits of small, seemingly inconsequential changes that will be easy to make. Do you think you could drink one less can of soda, or eat one less candy bar each day? Pretty easy, right? The great thing is that when repeated every day, even tiny changes like these can have very large positive effects.

The outsized benefits created when small changes become habits are a huge confidence booster. You had success, it had the impact you wanted, and you are now master of your destiny! Knowing that you have the competence to affect small changes; you will now have the confidence to move onto a slightly bigger challenge. Since this new confidence is built on a foundation of success and hard work it is much less likely to develop into cockiness. You know that you still had to work to reach your previous goals, and will have to again to reach your new goals.

And remember, competence builds confidence. With each successful change you really do become more competent at changing your life, and this increased competence builds more confidence, and so on.

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