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10 Surefire Ways To Build Confidence And Be Successful In Life

10 Surefire Ways To Build Confidence And Be Successful In Life

Fear often holds us back from reaching their dreams. Learning how to overcome that fear is one of the best ways to increase your chances of becoming successful. Learn how to build confidence so you can increase your chances of living a successful life.

1. Identify Clear Goals

Everyone has a different definition of success. It’s important to identify your own personal definition of success in life. Whether your goal is to enrich the lives of others or you want to open a successful business, establish a clear goal of what you’d like to accomplish in order to feel successful.

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2. Gain Advice from Successful People

People who have reached their goals can often offer helpful words of wisdom. Look for people that you admire for their success and learn about them. Read books by successful people, network with successful people, and follow them on social media. Learn as much as you can about how they gained enough confidence to reach their goals.

3. Experiment with New Things

The path to success usually isn’t a straight line. Expect to face obstacles and accept that you may fail several times along the way. The way you recover from failures will speak to your character and your ability to reach your goals. When one thing isn’t working, be willing to try something new until you succeed.

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4. Balance Learning with Doing

You can never learn enough about things that you’re passionate about. However, you need to balance learning with action. Find ways to balance your time between learning more and applying what you’ve learned.

5. Keep a List of Your Accomplishments

Keep a list of the progress you’ve made and the accomplishments you’ve achieved. On days where you aren’t feeling very confident, reviewing your list can help give you the boost you need to keep going.

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6. Identify a Plan for Each Day

Identify one small thing you can do each day to help you work toward your goal. This can help you keep your goal in mind and can remind you why your hard work is important. Creating a plan for each day helps ensure you are spending your time and energy wisely.

7. Review Your Progress Regularly

Sometimes it is hard to identify whether or not you’re on the right track toward reaching your goals. Review your progress at regular interviews so you can ensure that you are staying on the path toward success. If you’re feeling like you’re off track, go back and review steps you can take to get back on track as soon as possible.

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8. Identify Your Overly Negative Thoughts

If you’re plagued by overly negative thoughts, it can certainly sabotage your efforts. Thinking things such as “I’ll never be good enough,” or “I can’t do this anymore,” will only hold you back. Try to recognize your overly negative thoughts before they spiral out of control. Replace them with more productive thoughts to help you stay on track toward reaching your goals.

9. Problem Solve Ways to Overcome Barriers

Be prepared to get creative when problems arise along the way. The more problems you solve, the more confident you’ll become in your ability to reach your goals. View obstacles as challenges that you can overcome and keep an open mind about how you can work through problems that you encounter along your journey to success.

10. Be Willing to Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

People often go to great lengths to avoid feeling anxious. However, anxiety won’t kill you. Instead, when you allow yourself to step outside of your comfort zone and face your anxiety head on, you’re likely to grow as a person. Be willing to step outside your comfort zone to help you get closer to your goals. You’ll feel much more successful when you’ve overcome challenges to reach your goals.

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Amy Morin

A psychotherapist, psychology instructor, keynote speaker, and the author of the bestselling book 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do

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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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