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Published on June 27, 2019

5 Solid Strategies to Boost Your Confidence at Work

5 Solid Strategies to Boost Your Confidence at Work

Let me be honest with you: I was never a straight-A student.

Sure I had good grades, but they certainly weren’t anything special. And, because of this, my self-esteem and confidence levels were lower than many of my high-achieving friends.

However, I later discovered one of the keys to abundant confidence.

This discovery came about what I started to become interested in computer coding. As I began to learn how to code and to create programs, something unexpected happened — my confidence started to soar.

What was behind this sudden boost in confidence?

It was the self-reliance I was developing by overcoming issues and bugs with the code I was working on. By learning how to solve difficult coding problems, I learned the little-practiced arts of persistence and creativity; which led to a tangible uplift in my self-confidence.

As you can see from the above, confidence must be found from within. It can never be found from outside.

Working through difficulties is one of the best ways to develop your self-confidence. Each time you overcome a challenge or break through an obstacle — you’ll push your confidence a little higher than it was before.

So next time you find yourself struggling with a deadline at work or facing a financial challenge, be sure to meet them head on. With a positive mindset, you’ll be able to find ways to overcome these and other challenges. And, as I’ve already mentioned, you’ll be rewarded with a tangible boost to your self-confidence. You’ll also open the door to opportunities that can help you reach and exceed your goals.

Of course, as well as overcoming challenges, there are other ways that you can increase your confidence levels.

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1. See Yourself as Equal to Everyone Else

Do you see yourself as equal to your line manager? How about your company’s directors? Do you see yourself as equal to them?

If you allow yourself to feel less than others, you’ll never reach your full potential. You’ll lack the necessary confidence to do the things you want and need to do.

But, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Instead of seeing others as more important than yourself, start seeing them as equals. One easy way to do this is to keep in mind that your manager, your company higher ups and even their leaders — are all on the same team!

You all want your company to succeed, and each person (including you) has their part to play.

Shift your mindset to team-playing, and watch your confidence levels soar.

2. Do the Right Thing

Have you noticed that when you do something morally wrong, you feel bad inside? But, when you do something good (perhaps helping someone out of a difficult situation) — you feel great!

So guess what?

The more bad things you do, the lower your self-esteem and confidence levels will drop. But, the more helpful and useful you are in your life, the higher your self-esteem and confidence will rise.

That’s why I recommend that you should always strive to be kind, compassionate and helpful. This will allow you to benefit the greater good — as well as benefit yourself.

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3. Dress for Success

Imagine turning up to a job interview in T-shirt and jeans, only to find that the other candidates are all smartly attired in suits or dresses. I’m guessing you would feel a little embarrassed, a little out of place, and perhaps… a little deflated!

That’s why it’s always best to dress smarter than you might think is needed. This will always be better than looking underdressed.

But, how about your day-to-day appearance? Do you make an effort in a morning to make sure you look your best?

If you don’t; you should.

When you dress and groom well — you’ll feel good about yourself, too.

And, others will pick up on your confident manner and appearance, and will inevitably treat you with more respect (further boosting your confidence.)

As Friedrich Schiller once wrote:
“Appearance rules the world.”

4. Celebrate All Your Victories, Both Big and Small

You’re 15 years old, and you’ve decided you’d love to become a medical doctor.

To make this goal a reality, you discover that you’ll need to train for at least 11 years before you can gain your medical license.

Yes, 11 years!

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Clearly, this is a HUGE commitment, and will take intense persistence, focus and energy on your part to reach your end goal.

Now, let me ask you a question:

“Would you throw a big party when you finally got your license?”

I’m sure you would. And, you’d definitely deserve it.

But to keep you on track throughout your years of training, I’d suggest celebrating each milestone along the way. For example, throw a few parties… one when you complete your undergraduate degree program, one when you complete medical school, and one when you complete your residency training.

You could also reward yourself for the small but important steps that you take to achieve each of these milestones.

When you celebrate the big and small victories in your life, you’ll keep yourself pumped up, confident and enthusiastic for success.

Try it and see!

5. Always Be Prepared

Do you always expect the unexpected?

From my experience as an entrepreneur, I’ve learned the hard way that even our best and most precise plans can be blown out of the water in an instant!

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For example, I remember many years ago pitching my Lifehack idea to potential investors. At one meeting, I whipped out my laptop to launch my prepared presentation, only to find that the machine was completely unresponsive. My impressive charts, data and business plan were trapped within a dead metal case! Fortunately, I was able to talk at length without notes about my idea, but I have to admit that I was knocked off balance by the laptop issue.

This experience and others taught me the value of always being prepared.

While it’s impossible to know exactly what’s going to happen in the future, you can at least be mentally prepared for things to go wrong, differently or even completely crazy!

So prepare for the worst — but expect the best!

As you can hopefully see from the strategies above, there are several simple ways to begin boosting your confidence right now.

But, it all starts with your mindset.

Shift this into positive gear, and begin seeing obstacles as opportunities for growth. Do this, and your self-confidence levels will hit the roof. You’ll no longer feel downtrodden and left behind. Instead, you’ll have the spark of life that allows you to achieve whatever you set your mind on.

Featured photo credit: Dylan Gillis via unsplash.com

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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