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5 Simple Steps to Build Your Confidence

Confidence increases by setting goals for yourself and achieving them.

Key points

  • To build confidence under pressure, recall past successes.
  • Practice positive self-talk to reinforce the neural pathways in your brain that fuel your confidence.
  • Befriend your believers, so that you surround yourself with positivity.
Source: Priscilla Du Preez/ Unsplash

When I started doing keynote talks a decade ago, my confidence wasn’t a problem. I loved presenting and I was passionate about the ideas I was sharing. I was committed to helping the audience with what I taught them and I wholeheartedly believed in everything I taught.

Over time, as my business grew and evolved, so did my clientele and audience size. I found myself working with well-known brands and speaking to audiences of over 1,000 people. I even got invited to deliver a talk on television. This is when things got a little nerve-wracking and I knew my confidence needed a boost.

Questions of self-doubt tried to cloud my mind: Who am I to share anything useful? Why should they listen to me? Why did I sign up for this? Even though there was no truth in them, they felt real.

Yet, nothing had changed except my clientele and the number of ears listening to me. I had the same insights I’d had before and I actually had even more experience. I really had no logical reason to doubt myself, but I did. Why? Because they were new challenges.

Being a positive psychology practitioner, I dived into the array of tools I was already familiar with. I also went looking for more. I tried and tested many to find a series of confidence-building exercises that worked without fail. Now, whenever I feel nervous, I put them to good use. I encourage you to do the same.

These steps can build your confidence in various situations: professional or personal. They can help you feel calmer and more focused when delivering a presentation, doing a job interview, or approaching a new task that scares you. They can help you before a first date, a new class at the gym, or meeting the in-laws for the first time.

They will move you from simply surviving to thriving, enabling you to perform better and even enjoy overcoming the challenge you’re faced with.

Whatever the challenge is, these steps will help you approach it feeling empowered, confident, and calm.

1. Take it step by step.

Take the tiniest step you can to move forward in facing the challenge. Then take another one. Make each step as tiny and easy as possible so taking them won't be so daunting and you're guaranteed to succeed. With each step, you will feel more confident than with the previous one. Before you know it, you'll have flown past the challenge with success.

2. Remind yourself of your why.

Why are you in the situation you are in? What is driving you? What is your motivation for being there? Maybe you’re passionate about the message you’re about to share or excited about being interviewed for your dream job. Perhaps you know that what you're doing will help others and people are counting on you to get it done. Maybe it gets you one step closer to your long-term goal, whatever it may be. Whatever your why is, remind yourself of it, because it will motivate you through any moments of doubt and make you even more passionate about the performance you're about to give.

3. Think of your past successes.

Identify situations in your past when you have succeeded under stress or pressure. It’s easy to forget how much you’ve already overcome, and hindsight can help you realize how much you’ve already grown. Remind yourself of when you were nervous about doing something, did it, and succeeded. Trust that the world only offers you situations you are ready for, and trust in yourself and your abilities to overcome them.

4. Practice positive self-affirmations.

By telling yourself that you are confident and brave, you will feel more confident and brave. The more you engage in positive talk with yourself, the more you build yourself up and reinforce the neural pathways in your brain that fuel your confidence. Here are some examples of affirmations you can say to yourself:

  • I choose to believe I am confident.
  • I believe in my abilities.
  • I value my strengths and use them well.

5. Ignore the naysayers and surround yourself with the yaysayers.

Unfortunately, you will sometimes have pessimistic people around you. They might tell you that you can't do something, that you're not capable, or that you need more experience. Ignore them. You have every right to go for it and you absolutely can. Even if you don't succeed, you will learn heaps, which will make you more likely to succeed the next time. If you can, surround yourself with a cheerleading team of positivity who will help you to aim high and go for it.


Cascio, C. N., O’Donnell, M. B., Tinney, F. J., Lieberman, M. D., Taylor, S. E., Strecher, V. J., & Falk, E. B. (2016). Self-affirmation activates brain systems associated with self-related processing and reward and is reinforced by future orientation. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 11(4), 621-629.

Hill, P. L., Sin, N. L., Turiano, A. T., Burrow, A. L., & Almeida, D. M. (2018). Sense of purpose moderates the associates between daily stressors and daily wellbeing. Annals of Behavioural Medicine, 52: 724-729

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