At first glance, confidence seems to be an invisible aura of positive energy and self-assurance that bursts out of people. Often, we think that confidence is something that’s innate—either you have it or you don’t. While there are those who have a natural bent toward confidence, it is also something that you can develop.
Confidence is both explainable and achievable. It is not confined to certain personality types or specific traits. It is a skill, and you’re responsible for developing and growing it as part of your personality. You must study, practice, and master it just like any other skill.
Now, I know a lot of folks out there believe that affirmation is the way to build confidence. Look in the mirror and say positive things about yourself: “You’re a great writer,” “You can write a thousand words per day,” “You have an extraordinary story to tell,” and so on. That’s all great, and if it’s working for you, then I would agree that you should keep at it.
However, it’s my personal belief that the confidence you build with affirmation is short-lived. It gets you inspired and motivated, and you’ll probably be assertive for a few days or a few weeks…until you hit roadblock like writer’s block or getting a rejection from a publishing company or agent. Your confidence is easily shaken by life’s challenges because your confidence is only being fed by positive thoughts—it doesn’t have a real foundation.
Affirmation could also lead to expecting too much of yourself and overestimating your capabilities. Although confidence is rooted in your belief that you can be successful, there is still that danger of displaying more confidence than what you can really handle.
They say “fake it till you make it!”
But here’s what I think…
“Make it so you don’t have to fake it!”
There is no sure way of gaining confidence overnight. But if you want to be confident every single day for the rest of your life, you have to stoke that fire of confidence. Fuel it by being an expert at your craft, because confidence is really about knowing that you’re good at what you do and that you add value to people’s lives, then acting in a way that resonates with your audience.
But what if you’re a new writer and writing is a whole new arena for you? How do you create confidence when you’re a newbie and you have no idea what you’re doing?
There’s three simple steps you can start today to have more confidence!
1. Start by Taking Action
I saw this great video on Facebook. Some guy couldn’t reach his toes and he set a goal for himself to reach his toes.
Every day he bent over, stretched his hamstrings, and tried to reach his toes. When he started out, this guy was like a foot and a half away from reaching his toes, but every day he tried, and he got closer and closer to reaching his toes. Finally, on Day 41, he reached his toes. He high-fived his wife and was completely ecstatic. It was awesome!
Let’s dig deeper into how this guy achieved his goal of reaching his toes.
He started by taking action. He took consistent action day after day after day. He built momentum by taking action on a regular basis to reach his goal. This momentum gave him the confidence to go out there to take more and more action because he was seeing results from the previous actions that he had taken. In the end, he succeeded in reaching his toes.
The same principle works in real life. If you want to achieve your goal of being a successful writer, you need to take daily action. If you’re inexperienced and have no idea what to write about, just start by searching for inspiration whether in a form of a writing prompt, systematic questioning, free writing, taking a publishing course, and so on. Think about what you can do to be a good writer and focus on doing it consistently.
Don’t try to accomplish too much. Think good, better, and then best. Start small and work your way up to being an expert in your field.
That’s what you’ve got to do to start getting confidence on your side. (I highly recommend jotting down your daily action in a journal.)
After you have jumpstarted your confidence engine, the next thing you’ll need to do is to keep it running. Improve and develop your confidence by taking more actions.
2. Always Do What You Say You’re Going to Do
There is one simple formula for success in any area of life: do what you say you’re going to do. Continue taking action.
If you say, “I’m going to call five prospects every day to pursue sales,” make it happen. If you say it, you have to commit to it and execute it. If you promise to meet a friend for lunch, do it. If you agreed to a 9 a.m. appointment, show up. If you schedule writing for two hours every day, then make sure you complete that task every single day.
Make a habit of doing what you say you’ll do. It will develop into a mindset of “can-do” in any situation and that will increase your confidence.
But don’t make the mistake of focusing only on your commitments to yourself. Pay attention to what you say to others, too, and make sure that you do everything you tell them you will.
People want to follow great leaders. The more you put value on keeping your promises, on keeping your commitment, the more likely people are going to believe in you. The more people believe in you, the more you’ll believe in yourself, and the more you believe in yourself, the more you absorb that can-do attitude into your personality, making you feel more confident in any kind of situation.
The path to being confident is not going to be easy. Even if you’ve already developed that can-do mindset, there will still be times that you will be taken aback by a situation and self-doubt can start seeping in. You can find yourself in a situation where your growing confidence is starting to weaken.
3. Destroy Self-Doubt and Cultivate Self-Trust
Have you ever seen a salesperson looking down at his feet and looking uncomfortable? I’ve had my fair share of that sad experience with salespeople who couldn’t look me in the eye, and when I ask them a question, they either hesitate or answer in a small voice. I never buy from those salespeople because they are full of self-doubt.
If you’re an experienced writer and you’ve gotten nasty reviews because of one crazy idea in your book, you may want to start acting like that salesperson. You don’t want to say something that might be perceived as outrageous, and so you shy away from letting your thoughts flow onto that blank page in front of you. You have all these negative thoughts about people judging your writing, which makes you uncomfortable. You’re not sure about what your readers want anymore, and so you begin having a difficult time stringing words together or even deciding on a topic. You start doubting yourself and you become a hindrance to your own success.
The only cure to eliminating self-doubt is to increase your self-trust. And the only way to increase self-trust is by taking more action.
Why? If you keep taking daily action, you’ll have a sure-fire way of getting real affirmations that you’re a reliable person and that you can do everything you said you would do. You can establish self-trust because you can look back at your past actions and say “I made it!”
(If you’ve kept a journal of your daily action, you can look back at the pages of your daily progress.)
You’ll know you’re a different person from when you started if you look at your track record. You’re no longer the clueless writer that you used to be. You’re now someone who’s constantly taking action, constantly making progress, and constantly doing what you said you’d do, and you know you can trust yourself because you’ve always made it work in the past. And the more you trust yourself, the less you doubt yourself, and the less you doubt yourself, the more confidence you gain.
You can’t just put a mask on, pretend you’re some big hotshot, and act confident—it won’t work for long. Fake things don’t last. If you get writer’s block, your confidence will drop instantly. If you release your book and not a single soul pays attention to it, your confidence will plummet.
Why? Because you never took actions to validate your self-belief. As a result, you are not prepared to battle unexpected obstacles. Consistent daily action helps you develop your skills to master your craft, but more than that, it’s the fuel to be confident in facing any challenge. Taking action is the foundation of real confidence.
Keep it real. Make it so you don’t have to fake it!
Take one action today towards reaching your goals. Share that action in the comments!
For more on developing a positive mindset for success, read on: