What do you think is the fastest way to become the confident person you aspire to be? Possibly it’s by sheer willpower or enforcing positive self-talk? How about visualization or affirmations?
While each of these tools is effective in its own way and can support your efforts, individually they are only pieces of the puzzle.
You must be the person you have never had to courage to be. Gradually, you will discover that you are that person, but until you can see this clearly, you must pretend and invent. ~Paulo Coelho
The Secret to Becoming That Confident Person is …
The fastest way to develop new behavior(s) is to simply begin acting like the person you aspire to be – often referred to as “fake it till you make it.” For example visualizing yourself as a confident speaker is great, but in order to achieve that vision, you must take action in a way that enables you to become that confident speaker.
Education and practice will provide you with the foundation you need, but eventually, you will have to move outside the classroom. Our tendency as a society is to look at people who have achieved success in some area and see them only as they have become, but if you look at their individual histories you’ll see that in each case there were struggles and failures (sometimes many) overcome along the road to becoming who they are today.
Each of those experiences enabled them to be stronger and more resilient and taught them a bit more about how to behave like the person they aspired to be.
Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful. ~Mark Victor Hansen
Where to Begin
It may be easier to understand the process if we look at the term “fake it till you make it” a little closer. This is not about simply pretending you’re someone or something you’re not – there’s no growth or fulfillment possible from that perspective.
What we are talking about is simulating a behavior you desire to master as you actively work toward making that a natural part of who you are … it may help to think of this as you creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Anyone can do this and it works whether you just want to learn to say “no” without feeling guilty or you aim to achieve growth in your career. And trust me on this – as someone who’s been formally labeled as an “extreme Introvert” – I can tell you from firsthand experience that you do not need to be especially outgoing or overly confident, you do however need to believe in your ability to grow, committed to doing the work, and passionate about achieving your desired outcome.
Here are a few strategies to help you get started.
Be Very Clear About the Behavior You Want to Develop
If you want to achieve a meaningful change you need to be specific. Deciding you’d just like to become more confident in life is admirable, but it doesn’t give you a target or anything tangible to work with, so it’s best to pick one area to focus on and build from there.
Let’s say you want to be seen as more confident at work and you decide one way to do that would be to speak up more often at meetings. The first thing you’d want to do is find a role model, someone who doesn’t just speak up, but effectively contributes to the discussion. The next step is to observe and learn from their behavior and think in specific terms about what they contribute to meetings and how you might be able to adapt that behavior to your own unique personality and perspective.
Once you have a clear image of your desired outcome, then you can begin practicing at home (This is where visualizing yourself confidently contributing to the meeting can help you.) and depending on the nature of your support system, with family and friends.
When you’re ready to step out of your shell at a meeting, try to be among the first to speak and don’t worry about making a grand statement. Even if you speak up just to agree or ask a question, it’s much better to make your presence known early so that you don’t end up losing your nerve. If at all possible choose a topic ahead of time that’s important to you so that you’ll be ready to chime in.
Set Reasonable Expectations
Setting high standards for yourself is admirable, but don’t make them so high they are impossible to achieve. You’re far more likely to stick with your plan if you’re able to see a few early successes. As soon as you master one small goal, reach for another and another.
We often focus our attention on BIG changes but the truth is that most change happens gradually over time. You may not even realize how much you’ve changed until one day it suddenly dawns on you that you are no longer faking it, you have become that confident person you aspired to be!
Redefine Your View of Failure
When it comes to your personal growth the only true failure is to stop trying. A certain measure of discomfort and occasional stumbles are a part of growth, but these experiences often present us with our greatest lessons. If you learned something, even if it’s what not to do again, the experience wasn’t a failure.
While it’s unrealistic to expect overnight results, if day after day you consistently act out the change you want, before long, the person you pretend to be will become the person you were always meant to be.
Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald
Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.
She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.
To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living click “here“.