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How to Be Confident Without Being Cocky

How to Be Confident Without Being Cocky
Picture of a man that is over-confident
    What? Me, cocky?

    You are a people pleaser. You are someone that doesn’t know how to speak your mind. You are someone that is afraid that your opinion isn’t important. You let people treat you however they want and don’t give them consequences for their actions.

    This is the exact same way that I felt six years ago. I couldn’t overcome the debilitating fear that I wasn’t worth anything. I had no confidence. Over the years I did develop confidence and a realistic view of what I am capable of, but I didn’t want to go the opposite way – becoming cocky and full of myself instead of being “sure” of myself.

    Here is how you can become confident without becoming cocky.

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    Know your strengths

    This is the exact thing I didn’t know that led me to believe that I wasn’t worth anything. It’s important to be able to identify what you are good at in your life, if only to choose that something as the thing that you devote your time to. When you find your strengths you can accomplish things in your life with much more confidence.

    There are a few good ways to find your strengths. A simple way would be to find the things that you like to do and the things that make you feel “strong”; that is, find the tasks and actions you do on a regular basis that make you feel good about yourself. These tend to be your strengths.

    More importantly, know your limitations

    While knowing your strengths is important, to make sure that you are only confident and not cocky, you have to know what your limitations are.

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    If you scoff at the notion that you have any limitations, you need more than ever to realize that you do. Everyone sucks as something. In fact, everyone sucks at most things. The thing is that we need to know which ones they are to avoid the “Superman Syndrome” or the idea that everything you do or can do you are instantly good at.

    Get a crew

    Nothing is better than having people around that can keep you accountable and can speak up when you are becoming too full of yourself. Having people that are honest and not afraid to show you the reality of any situation are some of the best people to have as friends and confidants.

    Having others around that only support you and lift you up and don’t show you where you are misstepping is certainly a good way to become cocky. I’m not saying to have people around you that make you feel like crap; you need people around you that aren’t afraid to tell you the truth about yourself and your situations.

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    Log your successes and failures

    A good way to gain instant confidence is to take a look at all of the important things you have accomplished over the weeks, months, and years in some kind of log format. Doing so will further solidify the idea that you are by no means worthless and that you can truly give something to society. On the opposite end, reviewing your past failures will keep your cockiness at bay and show you that you actually can screw up, no matter how awesome your past accomplishments are.

    A good way to log these would be in a simple spreadsheet or even two text files (successes and failures).

    Be mindful and stay grounded

    Being mindful is one of the best ways to stay grounded in reality. The practice of mindfulness will help you see yourself (as well as others around) for who and what they truly are; no more and no less.

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    You don’t have to be a meditation guru to do this, simply stop every so often and take stock of your current situation by becoming aware of your surroundings, your feelings, and your actions. In fact you could set up small reminders to do this throughtout the day to keep yourself on track. Although that isn’t very “buddha-like”, it will definitely help you to remember to be mindful throughout your day.

    Review and repeat

    To make sure that you are confident without being cocky in the long run you have to consistently “check yourself”. Take out your success/failure log and look it over, ask your “crew” if you are being overly-confident (or even if you are not being confident enough), and stop every so often to become mindful of reality.

    By following the principals above you can ensure that you are confident without being cocky.

    More by this author

    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

    Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut only to get back into another one.

    How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

    • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
    • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
    • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
    • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
    • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
    • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

    When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnancy in life, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help.

    Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

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    1. Realize You’re Not Alone

    Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths.

    Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

    2. Find What Inspires You

    Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation.

    What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

    On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem.

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    If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

    3. Give Yourself a Break

    When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

    Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave.

    Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future.

    These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

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    4. Shake up Your Routines

    Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

    Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’re 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

    When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

    5. Start with a Small Step

    Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

    Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward.

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    Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years.

    On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

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    Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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