Why Self-Confidence Should Be Your Top Goal This Year

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Did you set any goals or make any resolutions for the year?

How are they working out for you so far? Are you on track?  Or have you already fallen short or abandoned your goal completely?

If that’s the case, you aren’t alone. Research from the University of Scranton reveals only 8% of people who make resolutions keep them. We all have great intentions to improve our lives, get healthier, make more money, or improve our relationships. But the vast majority of people fail in their efforts.

There are many reasons people aren’t successful in achieving their goals and resolutions.

•    They set big, complicated goals that are overwhelming rather than small, attainable goals;
•    They don’t set tangible, achievable metrics for their goals that are specific;
•    They don’t have a system of accountability and support;
•    They don’t plan for difficulties or potential setbacks.

All of these reasons can be overcome by learning the skills of proper goal-setting and habit formation. But there’s one foundational element of achievement that is absolutely essential to your success. Without it, it doesn’t matter how skilled you are at the mental techniques of reaching your goals — you will be bound to fail.

That foundational element is self-confidence.

This might seem intuitive, but if you are one of the millions of people who lack self-confidence, you know how this lack can sabotage your best efforts at reaching your dreams. In fact, it can undermine the most basic day-to-day efforts in your personal and professional life.

People who lack confidence have difficulty sharing ideas, speaking up for what they want or need, initiating conversation, tackling challenging projects, or undertaking anything that appears risky or potentially embarassing. They don’t lack the intellect, ability, or even the desire to be successful. They simply don’t feel capable or empowered and therefore hold themselves back from taking action. Their driving motivators are fear and self-doubt.

It is the internal limiting beliefs and emotions that rule the world of a person with low self-confidence. They are bound to the actions and behaviors that feel safe and comfortable, and they are unable to push past those feelings to significantly improve their lives.

As you can see, without confidence, it doesn’t matter how strategically you’ve planned, how tangible your goal metrics might be, how much accountability you’ve created for yourself. Without confidence in yourself and your abilities, you simply can’t act on all of your well-laid plans.

If you are lacking in self-confidence in one or more areas of your life, your number one goal this year should be to improve it. Your success in every other goal, resolution, or desire hinges on this state of being.

Research on confidence

Research supports how critical self-confidence is to virtually every area of our lives. In a University of Florida study, Dr. Timothy Judge revealed that people with self-confidence earn anywhere from $7000 to $28,000 a year more than those without it.

In the same study, his research underscored how important self-confidence is to career success. Self-confident people are more likely to set ambitious goals and follow through on them. They experience more respect from peers and decision-makers at work and enjoy more career advancement and leadership opportunities.

Even when they meet roadblocks or difficulties in life, self-confident people bounce back from them more quickly and don’t allow the problems to define them or prevent them from moving forward.

However, people who lack self-confidence often sabotage their career success with unconscious behaviors and actions that make them less likely to get noticed or advance in their work.

Self-confidence is also vital to the health and happiness of your relationships. A study by Murray, Holmes, MacDonald and Ellsworth (1998) showed that a person’s perception of themselves in the relationship is impacted by their levels of self-esteem and self-confidence.

Those lacking confidence often sabotage the relationship with insecurities and neediness, undermining the love and acceptance they desire. The perceptions of other people in any relationship (personal or professional) are negatively skewed by the behaviors of the person lacking confidence.

Most people lack confidence in some area of their lives — some place where they feel insecure and weak. And there are some who feel that lack of confidence in general, around every aspect of their lives. But fortunately, you don’t have to live with a life sentence of low confidence. You CAN learn the skills of boosting your confidence so you can begin taking action on your goals and dreams.

Here are some techniques on strengthening your confidence muscle:

Dedicate

If you recognize how vital self-confidence is to all of your other goals, your first step must be to dedicate yourself to working on it. You must view building your confidence just as you would any other goal. It can’t be a part-time, occasional effort. Commit time every day to working on your confidence and learning the skills outlined below.

Pinpoint

Pinpoint your main area or areas of low self-confidence. Is it related to your ability to succeed in a specific endeavor or setting? Is it related to your communication skills? Your appearance? Your capacity to make a good income? If you suffer from low confidence in more than one area, which area provokes the most grief and difficult for you? This is the best place to start.

Uncover

Now take some time to determine the triggering events or circumstances that led to your low confidence in this specific area. It might have been something from your childhood or adolescence. Or maybe it was a recent failure or mistake, or how other people have responded to you in a particular situation. Write down all of the triggering reasons you can think of, and then write down all of the negative emotions this event or events have created for you. How did this situation make you feel about yourself?

Refute

As you look at the circumstance that triggered your low confidence, consider every event or situation in your past and current life that provides evidence to the contrary. How can you refute your negative beliefs about yourself with real proof of success, achievement, attractiveness, etc.? If you feel you can’t find this evidence, ask someone close to you who loves and supports you. Your own negative feelings might get in the way of an honest assessment of your positive qualities and successes.

Reconstruct

As you do this exercise, you will see your beliefs about yourself aren’t the complete truth. You have more to offer than you think you do. But likely you’ll also see areas where you need to improve (your relationships, your skills, your appearance, etc.). Rather than hiding from these areas that need improvement, identify specific actions you can take to improve them. Write them down and assign yourself these actions on your calendar. Research proves that action and accomplishment alone improve your feelings of confidence.

In addition to self-improvement, put yourself in small and manageable situations to practice your confidence. For example, if you feel uncomfortable speaking in groups, try speaking with 2-3 people for just a few minutes.Then slowly increase the difficulty of these confidence-stretching actions.

Confidence grows exponentially. As you succeed in one small area, you will feel more confident in general and can tackle more low confidence areas of your life. But it does take consistent practice and allowing yourself to feel some discomfort and fear. Over time, your confidence will grow larger than your fears and doubts. And the evidence will be clear in the amazing changes you see over the year in your finances, your career, your relationships, and your life!

Written on 1/27/2014 by Barrie Davenport. Barrie Davenport is a personal coach, author, and founder of the top-ranked personal development site Live Bold and Bloom. If you want to learn your self-confidence score, take Barrie’s Free Self-Confidence Test.

Photo Credit: curoninja

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