Confidence is a mysterious quality. It's one of those things we'd all like to have, but what does it really mean? In my new book, The Self-Confidence Workbook, I define confidence as part courage, part competence, with a healthy dose of self-compassion thrown in. True confidence is the willingness to take steps toward your goals, even when you might be anxious and even when the outcome is uncertain.
In my book, I take readers through a five-step program to build self-confidence. Because it's a workbook, there are many questions, exercises, and thoughtful reflections to help readers learn and stay engaged.
In this post, I've gathered together some of my favorites. While the sheer act of writing can be therapeutic for many people, if that's not the case for you, you can dictate into an app on your phone, or talk your answers over with a friend. In whatever way you choose, spend some time with the questions below and watch your confidence climb.
- Recall a time you felt confident and successful. Reflect on all the steps you took to get to that point.
- Do you have a confidence role model? Someone who comes off as self-assured, but not arrogant or pushy? Write about the qualities of this person you admire. You’ll often find you can emulate this fearlessness during a tense moment.
- The first step toward developing lasting self-confidence is to practice acceptance of your strengths and your challenges. List your three greatest strengths and why you’re grateful for them. List your three greatest challenges and what you can learn from them.
- When you’ve worked hard, give yourself some credit. Write down three things you did today that went well.
- Accept validation from others. Write about a time when you shrugged off a compliment. What would it have been like to instead, simply say, “Thank you.”
- Are you good at something, but you truly don’t think it’s a big deal? You tell yourself, “Anyone could do it if they really tried.” Reflect and list anything that comes up for you.
- Mindfulness, or simply pausing to focus on the present moment, can pave the way to a more positive and confident you. Try this: Write down five things you can see, five things you can hear, three things you can touch, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
- Describe a time you initially labeled a “failure,” but later realized it was a stepping stone to something great.
- List three things you’re good at that you take for granted.
- What does confidence feel like to you? What does your body feel like? What are you saying to yourself?
- List your favorite books and/or movies about someone who pushed past limiting beliefs to achieve something great.
- List the people in your life who support you and your goals. Describe how they bring out the best in you and increase your feelings of confidence.
- What would you do today if you had all the confidence in the world? What about in six months? A year?
- Not all self-doubt is a bad thing. Sometimes it’s a signal that we haven’t prepared enough, need more information, should move in a different direction, or take a break. Write about a time when self-doubt was actually useful.
- There can be a lot of boldness and bravery in small steps. Write about a time when you took a seemingly small—a step which led to incremental changes and a boost in confidence.
- Take a small step. Congratulate yourself. Feel more confident and motivated. Set a goal to take another step. What small step will you take this week?
- A confident person can accept helpful feedback and act on it without getting defensive. Reflect on a time when you handled criticism without allowing it break you.
- List any favorite confidence-boosting songs that help you make it through your morning routine on a stressful day. Place a star by any that make you want to dance around your bathroom and sing, working through those nerves.
- Confidence is all about balance. Too little confidence and you avoid trying new things. Too much confidence—confidence not grounded in reality—can get you into trouble. Where do you typically fall on the confidence curve?
- Confidence helps you handle setbacks and failures. By being more willing to fail, you’ll actually succeed more—because you’re not waiting for everything to be 100 percent perfect before you act. Taking more shots will mean making more of them. Write down the shots you will take this week.
Adapted from The Self-Confidence Workbook: A Guide to Overcoming Self-Doubt and Improving Self-Esteem, published by Althea Press. Copyright © 2018 by Barbara Markway and Celia Ampel.