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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 September 16, 2019

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

    We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

    The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

    Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

    1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

    Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

    For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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    • (1) Research
    • (2) Deciding the topic
    • (3) Creating the outline
    • (4) Drafting the content
    • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
    • (6) Revision
    • (7) etc.

    Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

    2. Change Your Environment

    Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

    One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

    3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

    Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

    Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

    My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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    Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

    If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

    Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

    I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

    5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

    I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

    Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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    As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

    6. Get a Buddy

    Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

    I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

    7. Tell Others About Your Goals

    This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

    For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

    8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

    What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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    9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

    If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

    Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

    10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

    Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

    Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

    11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

    At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

    Reality check:

    I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

    More About Procrastination

    Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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