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Be Confident In A Way Most People Don’t Know

Be Confident In A Way Most People Don’t Know

Last week the world was shocked and saddened by the suicide of Robin Williams. Since then the social media outlets have been blowing up with posts with people expressing their sadness and sharing some of his moments that are meaningful to them. What has also received a great deal of attention is the topic of suicide.

Though I’ve been studying people for 13 years, suicide is something I know very little about; so in no way, shape, or form am I trying share expertise on the subject. I can empathize a bit. I have a very Expressive Style and that means I can be very emotional and very assertive. This Style also comes with a roller coaster of attitudes and emotions that present great opportunities, but if left unmanaged, can create some real challenges. July of 2004 was probably the most challenging month of my life. I lived three hours from family and friends, my girlfriend and I broke up, and I got hustled by a roommate and was broke. Was I depressed?  I can’t say for sure. Was I suicidal? I don’t believe so, however I remember sitting in my apartment feeling alone and ashamed, and thinking to myself “I can totally get why people kill themselves, because this sucks.”

There are people out there who unfortunately experience legitimate depression and then there is a whole other group of people who find themselves in mental and/or emotional funks they can’t shake. The more I studied people the more I tried to zone in on what motivates them. I quickly realized that people can have all the goals, potential, and talent in the world, but if they don’t have confidence, they will likely never have the life they want to have. I began getting very curious about the concept of confidence and I started asking the question “If people aren’t confident, what are they?” The answer I’ve settled on is: Insecure. I define insecurity as any thought or feeling we have that is negative, either toward ourselves or the world around us. This could be stress, worry, fear, anxiety, regret, anger, jealousy, sadness, shame and the list goes on and on. In my opinion, insecurity is a disease, but instead of killing us, it just makes our lives suck until we die.

I look at confidence and insecurity as two different roads.

The Confident Road

The confident road is smooth and efficient. It’s a beautiful day and the driving conditions are perfect. The cruise control is set, windows are down, and your favorite song is on the radio. Your passengers are great company and everyone else you encounter is friendly. You consistently reach your destinations with no problems because the directions and signs are clear. You arrive feeling great without a worry in the world.

The Insecure Road

The insecure road is not smooth and efficient. There are times when the days are beautiful and conditions are perfect, but they can quickly and violently change leaving you looking for a ditch or an overpass for protection. The road is windy and bumpy, changes directions frequently, and the signs are not always clear or accurate. The people you encounter are not always friendly or helpful and your passengers are “backseat drivers” always criticizing you and making you second guess where you are going. The ride can be very uncomfortable and if you are lucky enough to reach your destination, you do so feeling confused, anxious, stressed, and worn down.

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Which road do you want to be on?

In his Hierarchy of Needs, Abraham Maslow says that insecurity may hold us back from developing healthy relationships, keep us from developing the self-esteem needed to achieve our goals and prevent us from realizing our passion and potential in the world.

When you start to understand confidence and insecurity, you start to realize how big of an issue this really is. Millions and millions of people are not living the lives they want to live because they are insecure. That is a tragedy!

I think so many people experience insecurity for three reasons:

We Are Confused

We get hammered with thousands and thousands of messages every single day, most of which don’t have our best interest in mind. Simply, we are not focused on the right things.

We Aren’t Taught Self-Respect

We are taught to respect, be good to, and take care of everyone else, but how many of you were taught to respect, be good to, and take care of yourself? We aren’t proactively taught this, so we don’t know how to. We aren’t taught what self-respect means. We aren’t taught to set healthy boundaries that we must project. We aren’t taught to think about what kind of life we deserve? We are taught to put everybody else first and that thinking about ourselves is selfish.

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We Lack Self-Awareness and Self-Management

You can’t manage what you aren’t aware of and because we aren’t taught to think about our self, we aren’t aware of our self. I train leaders all over the country and without any hesitation I have no problem telling them that a lack of self-management will be the difference between them being a great leader or a bad memory.  Personally, I realize that I am more sensitive and insecure when I don’t get enough sleep and I don’t exercise on a regular basis. Because I have self-awareness, when I feel negativity I am quick to take a step back and adjust my world accordingly to get back on track. You must get to know yourself so you can manage yourself.

To close, I want to remind you of a few concepts you must become familiar with to gain the confidence you need to live the life you want to live.

Self-Awareness

Above anything else, Self-Awareness might be the most important skill you can learn. Google defines Self-Awareness as:“conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.” I define it as knowing who you are and where you are going. What is important and meaningful to you? What excites you about the world? What do you expect of yourself and the world around you? What do you really want to do? What do you want your life to look like? What do you need to accomplish to fulfill your vision? What is your plan to accomplish your goals and vision?

When you know who you are, where you are going, and how you are going to get there, you eliminate a lot of the uncertainty and confusion that leave people feeling insecure.

Self-Awareness is knowing who you are, where you are going, and having a plan to get there. There is no uncertainty or confusion because your vision, plan, and how you organize your life is based on your values, passions, and things that are meaningful to you. You will never find any greater motivation than this to help you keep thriving forward!

Self-Respect & Self-Worth

When you look in the mirror, what do you see? When you think about your life and what you want out of it, what do you feel? Are you motivated or discouraged?

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While growing up it is beaten in to our heads how important it is that we have respect for people and things and the better we can do this the easier our life will be. However, I don’t remember at any point in my life anyone teaching me that the first person I needed to respect was myself. Yes, I was probably more insecure than the average kid, but I was so busy kissing everyone else’s behind and seeking approval and validation that I never thought about what I deserved. As a result I was very amiable with the world around me. Most of the time I just went with the flow and I was never too assertive.  If I felt what I was going to say or do was going to hurt or upset someone, I didn’t say it even when I was in the right or at a disadvantage. I didn’t understand self-respect and self-worth. You must.

Understanding self-respect and self-worth is your best defense against the world around you. They create much needed boundaries that will keep things out of your life that will keep you surviving rather than thriving. They protect your self-esteem, confidence, and attitude. People who understand self-respect and self-worth are more confident and they are less likely to tolerate being bullied by people or the world around them.

Self-Confidence

Google defines self-confidence as “a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgment”You must trust and believe in your abilities! Self-Confidence is the opposite of insecurity. When you are confident, you are not insecure and when you are insecure, you aren’t confident.

What is confidence? A 2009 Psychology Today article titled The Key to Confidence says:

“Confidence is our greatest personal resource. With it, we can face any situation knowing we can handle it. Without it, we are destined to suffer.”

A 2013 article on HuffingtonPost.com titled What is Confidence, Really? states:

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“Owning it. When you’re “owning it,” it means that you’re totally and completely at peace with who you are in every moment, interaction and experience. You make no apologies for being awkward, nervous, excited, loud, soft spoken or other… you’re just you. You radiate charismatic energy whether or not you have an extroverted personality because you are genuinely content with yourself and your present experience.”

In an AskMen.com article titled What Does Confidence Mean?, they say:

“Confidence is an attitude, a demeanor of coolness, a “swagger,” if you will. Confidence is not something that you can wear like a T-shirt or a gold watch, but it is something that can be enhanced by putting on a fresh, crisp new item of clothing or by putting a little extra effort into your physical appearance. It’s a certain pep in your step. A way of walking. A contagious charisma.”

A PowertoChange.com article titled You Can Be More Confident talks about confident women:

“There are few things more beautiful on a person than confidence. Women who wear it radiate strength, passion and conviction. It contributes more to a look than a designer label or the perfect diamond. When a woman knows who she is, why she is and what she’s supposed to do, she may be dressed in thrift store specials and be absolutely gorgeous.
A confident woman is not afraid to be herself. Plain and simple and beautiful, or flamboyant and fabulous. The key is: she knows who she is. She understands her purpose, and her gifts. She knows that there are certain things only she can contribute to this world, at this time, in this place.
She knows her style. It doesn’t matter whether you prefer zebra stripes and pink fur, or to be cloaked in grays and subtle greens. Whether you like volleyball or Victorian teas. Shopping or hiking. Or all of the above. What is most important is to be you.”

I want you to be on the confident road. I want you to have unshakable self-awareness, self-respect, self-worth, and self-confidence.

You must put the focus on your self. That doesn’t mean be selfish or act like a narcissist. The reality is, if you don’t look out for you, no one else will. If you are having trouble managing and concurring your insecurities, admit them, and get help. Talk to friends, seek out a mentor, or visit a counselor.  Little insecurities can easy morph into big ones and you don’t want that. You don’t deserve that!

Find and embrace the confident you!

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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