A strong self-confidence helps keep you on track with all the ambitions you have in your life. And a lack of it can stop you right in your tracks.It doesn’t matter what your particular goals are – whether they’re related to fitness, your career, your family, or a hobby – self doubt and uncertainty makes it that much harder for you to get where you want to be.
Self-esteem can mean a lot of different things, so let’s first talk about a positive way to think about it and how to make it useful and applicable to you.
Self-Confidence, Adaptability, and Mindset – The Ingredients for Reaching Your Goals
“Confidence” can be misinterpreted as arrogance, but that really only applies to a false confidence borne out of insecurity. True self-confidence is not about conceit or a fake tough exterior.
Instead, an authentic belief in yourself gives you the ability to adapt and shrug off disappointments and setbacks.
We all know missteps and botched plans are inevitable – it’s just the way life is. We can’t prevent ourselves from ever failing, but what we can do is develop and nurture our ability to shake off those setbacks and keep going.
That’s where healthy self-confidence fits in and why it’s so important.
Growth vs. Fixed Mindset and What it Means to Have One or the Other
Your belief in how much change is possible determines a lot with how you work toward and deal with everything in your life, including successes and failures.
There are essentially two main ways to look at the world and our own place in it. One belief is that what we do makes a difference in changing things, while the other is that everything is determined in advance and we can’t do much of anything to affect that.
The psychology researcher, Carol Dweck, writes about this concept in her work on mindsets and how they affect everything we do in our lives.
- A growth mindset is one in which you believe that you can change your performance and ability in an area as long as you practice and work hard at it.
- A fixed mindset is a belief system that traits such as intelligence, personality, and psychological makeup are in-born and can’t be changed. If you are “smart” you were born that way, and that’s that.
In her research, Dweck identified those people with a growth mindset, and they consistently performed better in all measures related to learning, psychological stability, and social skills. These people showed strong resilience and kept going despite setbacks and failures.
What was interesting was it wasn’t correlated to standard tests of self-esteem and confidence; in fact, some of the “growth mindset” individuals actually scored low on those, but they simply persevered.
And that’s a key component of any kind of success.
Why Developing a Growth Mindset Will Improve Your Self-Esteem
Those with a fixed mindset may have had higher levels of self-esteem, but only when things were going their way. These are the kids that were possibly told they were “smart” and had earlier successes that reinforced that belief. Yet when they started to not do as well and perform worse than they expected, their esteem crumbled and their performance deteriorated even more.
When you believe that intelligence is something that just is and you are born that way, then you have expectations of being so. But then when difficulties eventually happen, you take this as a blow to who you are.
It becomes evidence that you aren’t so smart. Your self-worth becomes tied to your performance and that is a bad road to be on. There are too many ups and downs in all the things we do in our lives to get caught up on a roller coaster ride of fickle self-value and confidence.
Don’t get too attached to the momentary success and disappointments in your life. Instead, develop a belief that you can change and develop with effort and practice. One failure today doesn’t mean we are a failure forever.
A healthy confidence in ourselves means we can see difficult tasks as learning experiences, rather than as tests of our performance and innate abilities. With that approach, we can improve and change and get better, as long as we keep trying and working hard as consistently as possible.
The motivation to forge ahead despite complications and hardships is a key part of being successful, and it all begins with a strong belief that you can improve and change for the better.
For more on the concepts Carol Dweck talks about click here for our short review of her book, Self Theories. It’s an eye opening work and explains a lot about how some people are more adaptable and responsive to adversity.
Two Tips to Improve Your Self-Confidence
A proper attitude towards growth can be developed and improved, it just takes some patience and time. Here are two of my favorite ways to work on it.
Action #1 – Spend Time on Yourself
Spending even just five minutes a day on yourself makes a big difference in your attitude and well-being. Give yourself the the first 5-15 minutes of each day and do this exercise.
- Get an old-fashioned pen and paper (you could use your phone, but you’re likely to get distracted).
- Set a timer (again, even 5 minutes will do the trick if that’s all you have).
- Take a few deep breaths.
- Write down at least 3 ways you’ve worked toward positive things in your life.
It may sound overly simplistic, but really, this may be the only chance you get to focus on your own needs without the distractions of responsibilities toward others. Wake up early if you need to, but absolutely make time to prioritize your health and happiness first. Every day.
Action #2 – Take Failures in Stride
If you hit a stumbling block, miss an opportunity, or make a mistake at work/home, take a minute to think about just how disastrous it really is. Are you going to die? Will you lose your home? No? Then, it’s fine. Really, you’re fine.
It’s important not to be fixated on the past. Everybody has failed at something or another, and prior experiences can definitely affect your mindset and keep you down.
Work on letting go of the past and moving on.
So when you find yourself comparing today’s performance to yesterday’s, or this year’s progress to last year’s, take stock of what’s really going on and let it go.
It’s good to want to change and to be passionate about improving yourself, but be careful that it doesn’t lead to dramatic, emotional highs and lows. It’s not about how you are doing just today or even this year, but how you conduct yourself for your whole life.
Keep Your Confidence High and Your Progress Moving
It really is obvious how mindset can impact every part of your life.
Whether you feel like you are stuck and can’t change, or whether you feel like you can make a difference if you can keep plugging away, these attitudes determine a lot about where you will eventually be.
We’ve all had our experiences with negative people and others who seem to want to drag you down with them. It’s likely they have their own issues, and their self-confidence and mindset doesn’t see change happening for them, so how can it happen for you?
It’s tempting to let other’s fears and limiting self-beliefs weigh you down.
Negativity, especially from close friends and family is draining and difficult to deal with, but you can learn to focus and remind yourself that this may be their problem, but it doesn’t have to be yours.
If you think about your own experiences, I’m sure you have some specific examples that come to mind of times when you’ve doubted yourself, and found it more difficult to stay consistent with your progress. We’ve all had that happen.
The key is to take time every day to focus on bolstering your self-confidence and attitude that all your energy and work is worthwhile. Every bit of effort matters.
In this next article, we take a look at other helpful methods for improving your life and working toward success in all you do.