How to Boost Your Confidence (in a Non-Icky Way)

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How do you boost your confidence when you need a dose of courage? A couple of weeks ago, I hosted a workshop at the Alive in Berlin conference. It was totally fun and fulfilling and, until a few minutes into the presentation when I started to relax, I was also eyeing the door and half-wondering whether it was too late to make a run for it. Public speaking is something I love when I'm standing up and doing it, but right up until that moment it truly feels like the worst. thing. ever.And that's part of the reason I do it: because it's a stretch. It's also a great exercise in self-trust. I am not an affirmations-in-the-mirror kind of person so I use these times of terror growth opportunities to look for other (less cringeworthy) ways to boost my confidence. Here's what I've learned so far:

You don’t need to feel confident in order to do something.

Confidence is not a prerequisite for action, even though we often like to believe it is. Yes, it feels more comfortable to take action on something when we feel 100% confident that we’re not going to fall flat on our faces or monumentally screw up, but let's face it: we're all human and it's never a given that we're not going to do that.It’s also important to remember that a lack of confidence isn’t necessarily evidence that we’re not capable of doing something. Correlation doesn't equal causation.With that being said, I've found that confidence is part of a three-step process:

Action -> clarity -> confidence

The first step is taking action and trying things out (avoidance is not a confidence booster—quelle surpise). It’s easy to overthink this step, to want to make sure we’re focusing on the “right” action, and to get stuck in analysis paralysis. But this stage is really about experimentation. Take the pressure off, give yourself a free pass to choose the “wrong” action, and just do something.The reason taking action on something—anything—is important is because it brings us to the next step, which is clarity. Clarity comes when we get feedback from our actions. That feedback might be “Hey, that wasn’t so bad after all. Maybe I’m on to something here!” It might also be “Oops, guess that didn’t go so well…”Whatever the outcome is, your action will lead you to a sense of what’s right for you and what’s not right for you, what works and what doesn’t.And this is where confidence comes from: clarity around the present.

Boost your confidence by focusing on the very next step

Confidence doesn't come from knowing how, it comes from know what. It doesn't come from certainty that we can do something with grace and dignity 100% of the time: it comes from knowing what we need to try next.If I'm hungry and my cupboards are bare, I know the next step is to go to the supermarket. I can't guarantee that I'm going to do an amazing job at going to the supermarket—I usually forget half the things I go for and it's not my favourite thing to do in the world—but I also don't think "Eh, I'm not sure I feel confident about going to the supermarket." I want food, so I go. I get food and, whatever else happens, mission accomplished. I don't stop to question my confidence levels because my desired outcome is clear.Even if we don’t have a crystal clear vision for what our next step looks like, you can still boost your confidence by identifying and knowing “This is the path for me” or “It’s time for a change.”That is where confidence comes from: trying things out, seeing what happens, and figuring it out from there.What action can you take this week to boost your confidence in a particular area or issue in your life? Leave a comment and share your ideas.Further reading: 5 powerful questions for clarity, confidence and self-connectionImage: Danielle McInnes