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The 3 Things That Will Give You Stronger-Than-Iron Man Self-Esteem

The 3 Things That Will Give You Stronger-Than-Iron Man Self-Esteem
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Iron Man is pretty strong (and generally incredible), so I’ll admit this is a bold statement. But, I’m a bold guy. My self-esteem really is that strong, so why wouldn’t I be that bold? I can only tell you what worked for me. This absolutely, unequivocally worked for me. And if it worked for me, why not you?

I used to want people to like me. Like, I really wanted them to. It felt nice to be liked. I felt like I belonged. I felt like it validated me as a person.  The trouble is, I wanted them to like me (and be happy) so much that much of the time it ended up being at my own expense. I’d do things that maybe I didn’t want to do in order for them to be happy and, hopefully, like me. Be friends with me. And perhaps we would be “friends”, yes… but the whole friendship would be based on me trying to make them happy. The energy would only flow one way. I’m sure you’ll agree this probably isn’t the best recipe for lasting friendship, even though that’s what (I thought) I wanted.

I never used to be able to decide which sock to put on first. OK, maybe that’s not entirely true, but the important decisions always seemed to come down to what someone else said over my own view. I’d sort of know what decision I wanted to make, but I’d talk to other people (my parents, mainly) about it as if I were seeking their permission. And if they didn’t quite agree, then I probably wouldn’t do it. And then I’d get pissed off that I couldn’t do what I really wanted to, because I wasn’t being “allowed’”. Crazy, right? I’m sure you’ve been there too, though.

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I thought I needed confidence. I thought “if only I were more confident, I could do whatever I wanted!” But it was a bit deeper than that, as these things often are. It was that I thought other people’s decisions were more important and better than my own. Like I somehow wasn’t good enough. That I didn’t deserve to make that decision. That I wasn’t “allowed”. In other words, I lacked self-esteem.

I actually didn’t realize this until I had self-esteem, and I don’t want that to happen to you, so here’s how you build stronger-than-Iron Man self-esteem. Let’s do this:

1. Make a list of what’s important to you

Sit down. Turn off the TV. Get some paper and a pen. Or a laptop. Or a tablet. Or carve it into a wooden table. I just want to ask you one question: what’s important to you about life? Now start writing. Write anything and everything that comes to mind. Even if it surprises you. Even if you don’t really want it to be on there. If it comes to mind, write it down. There are no rules here. Keep writing. Keep writing some more. Write until there’s nothing else left to write. There’s no time limit on this; take as long as you want.

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2. Put them in order

What’s the absolute most important thing to you about life? What is so vital that you couldn’t live without it? What else is extremely important? You don’t have to order every single thing that’s written down. Some of them will probably group together anyway, if they’re similar. Write down a top 5 if that will help. Or a top 3. Or a top 10. Remember: there are no rules. These are your values. This is your life. Whatever works for you here, do that. Just make sure they’re in an order that feels absolutely right for you. Stop being embarrassed and stop thinking of anyone else when you’re doing this. Again: these are YOUR values, and this is YOUR life.

When you look at this list, you should feel calm. Confident. Happy. Excited. Intrigued, maybe. Surprised, possibly. But deep down, you know it’s right, and you know this is who you are.

To make this even more powerful, for each thing that’s truly important to you, write down why it’s important to you.

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3. Act

Now you know what’s important to you. You know what the most important thing in your life is. You know what kind of life you want. You know who you really are. You know what decisions to make because you know what’s important, what’s more important, and what’s most important. You know you have no excuses to not do what you want now. Because now you know when you’re doing something that’s not aligned with who you are, so why are you doing it? Are you scared? Are you trying to impress someone?

The thing that builds lasting, permanent, stronger-than-Iron Man self esteem is acting on what’s important to you. Doing this shows you trust yourself. It shows you listen to yourself. That you want the best for yourself. That you respect yourself. That you love yourself. Isn’t that what you want? Isn’t that what everyone wants?

What having stronger-than-Iron Man self-esteem will do for you

It will give you confidence. It will give you strength. You’ll stand up for yourself. You’ll know what you want. You’ll care less and less about what others think because you know what you think and what you want is the most important thing in the word. You love yourself. You’re proud of yourself. You realise that you – yes, you – are awesome. You don’t let others affect your mood or who you are. You make decisions. The right decisions. You know you’re allowed to have what you want. You know you deserve what you want. And you set an early alarm, you jump out of bed, and you spend every day trying to get it.

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As always, I’ll leave you with some questions, ‘cause I’m generous like that:

On your list of everything that’s important to you, are you even on it?

When you have stronger-than-Iron Man self-esteem, what will you do?

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If you lack self-esteem (like I did), will you use this article to help? Or will you, knowing that doing the things I asked will absolutely help, ignore it?

Featured photo credit: JD Hancock via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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