Believing in yourself – a critical step on the path to success
Sometimes the difference in whether you succeed or whether you don’t comes down to one simple thing – believing in yourself. Have you ever thought about how much believing in yourself makes a difference in your quality of life? Think about it for a minute. If you don’t really believe that you can do something, you are not going to give your full effort and, without your full effort, your chances of successfully achieving your goal are greatly reduced. Also, if your goal requires help from others, you then need them to believe in you. If you don’t believe in yourself; why would they believe in you. Every successful goal that you ever achieve will have one common thing that they require i.e. that you believe in yourself.
Why believing in yourself is so important:
A strong belief in yourself can bring you all these benefits and more:
- You recognise your ability to accomplish goals.
- You’re optimistic about the future as you set goals and achieve them.
- Deep down inside, you know you can do anything.
- You treat yourself kindly.
- You feel uplifted and more satisfied with life.
- You’re motivated to get things done.
- You have faith, no matter what.
- You see and enjoy the abundance around you.
- Others feel attracted to you.
Wouldn’t you love to enjoy these qualities of confidence and well-being on a daily basis? The good news is you can! There are actions you can take to fortify your belief in yourself.
Believing in yourself made easy
Whether you feel lacking in this area or just want to strengthen your belief for the extra benefits, try these ideas to further develop your self-belief:
1. Have confidence in your own abilities to get something done
Be your own best cheerleader and encourage yourself to get your tasks done. Learn to break down your challenges into small steps until you know that you can do it.
I learned this tactic when my business was struggling. I knew what I wanted to achieve in the long run but I lacked confidence in my ability to make it happen. So, instead of being overwhelmed by the big picture, I got into the habit of setting 90 day plans to bring myself closer to achieving the big goal. I would then break the 90 day plan down into monthly targets and finally, daily actions. I could then focus on the daily actions which I had enough confidence to pursue.
Believing in yourself can be difficult when you are facing a big and daunting goal but when you break it down into bitesize actions, it becomes so much easier.
2. Create dreams
Whether it’s getting the career you want, obtaining more training, meeting someone you admire, traveling to a faraway place, or setting a goal to save a million dollars; connect with your dreams.
We often get put off from pursuing our dreams because we don’t believe in our ability to make them happen. What we forget is that it takes time to achieve a big goal/dream. In the time it takes to achieve that goal/dream, you also have the time to acquire the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to achieve it. Don’t base your beliefs in tomorrow’s success on the abilities you possess today. Believe in your ability to learn and grow.
3. Establish goals and go for the gold
Believing in yourself means you’re motivated to get things done. Get into the habit of setting goals (both short-term and long-term). Then, you can take active steps to achieve them. With every goal that you achieve, no matter how small, your confidence will increase. Believing in yourself is not some miracle of fate; it comes from creating a track record of achievement. That track record starts with setting goals.
If you don’t have any goals or dreams, check out the Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting.
4. Treat yourself well
Treating yourself with a nurturing nature and the understanding that you’re a deserving human being is an important aspect of developing belief in yourself.
As you begin to see yourself as worthy of being treated with respect, others begin to get that message too. For those who don’t get that message, you will come to the realisation that they should have no place in your life.
Treat yourself with respect and care and then demand the same from others.
5. Ensure motivation is high
Remember the childhood story about the little engine that could? When you want to accomplish your tasks with excellence and achieve your goals, it’s an incredible testament to your level of motivation. Build momentum to fuel your motivation.
To ensure your motivation for your biggest goals, take the time to understand why you want to achieve them. You should also regularly take the time to visualise your life as it will be once you have achieved the goal i.e. you will be living the benefits.
The old saying that where there is a will there is a way is very true. When you reinforce your motivation like this, you will create an iron-clad will to achieve your goal and you will find a way to make it happen. Believing in yourself is that powerful.
6. During the tough times, keep the faith
No one is immune from experiencing rocky chapters in his life. But if you believe in yourself, you can meet those challenging phases with a positive, solid fortitude. You’ll push forward, move through the trying moments and know you’ll come out on the other side smarter, stronger and surer of yourself.
During the tough times, remind yourself of how you have gotten through tough times before. Think about how you had the resilience and toughness to get through it. Summon that resilience and you will soon start to fight back.
Then, as with the first step in this article, focus on what you can do on a daily basis to come out on the other side of the difficulties. You will gain even more confidence as you take each step but you must start with some self-belief.
7. Recognise the bounty you have
Regardless of what stage of life you’re living, search for the good all around you. Get the most you can from each moment. Live in the moment and be determined to focus on and, be grateful for, all of the good things that are in your life.
When you are feeling down it is very tempting to think that your life is 100% bad but that is rarely the case. Learn to compartmentalise i.e. if one area of your life is not working, don’t automatically assume that every area of your life is bad; keep your sense of disappointment solely for the area where you are underperforming.
Then focus on each area of your life and spend a little time being appreciative for all the good things e.g. if you are struggling at work you may remind yourself of your successes such as:
- Your loving partner and kids
- Your great friends
- Your performance at the gym
- Your ability to look after your health
You could literally be grateful for anything positive in your life. The important thing is that you take the time to recognise the positives and appreciate them.
Also, don’t wait for something to go wrong before you find something in your life to be grateful for. Take a little time each day to practice gratitude and whenever you achieve any success in your life, no matter how small, celebrate it.
If believing in yourself does not come easy to you, check out Unbreakable Self Confidence.
Believing in yourself is one of the most powerful choices you can make and, it is a choice. In the face of adversity, any of the seven steps, outlined above, can prove to be difficult but they are choices which you can make. If you dedicate yourself to fostering self-belief and set aside a little time each day for working on it; you will soon find that you have greater resilience when the tough times come. You will stand strong, safe in the knowledge that no matter what life throws at you, you will be able to work through it. Practice these strategies and you’ll discover the sheer joy and comfort of knowing you can do whatever it is you choose when you believe in yourself.
We all have goals. And what's the first thing most of us think about when we consider how to achieve them?
"I need to get motivated."
The surprising thing? Motivation is exactly what you don't need. Today, I'm going to share a surprising research study that reveals why motivation isn't the key to achieving your goals and offers a simple strategy that actually works.
The best part? This highly practical strategy has been scientifically proven to double or even triple your chances for success.
Here's what you need to know and how you can apply it to your life...
How to Make Exercise a Habit
Let's say that -- like many people -- you want to make a habit of exercising consistently. Researchers have discovered that while many people are motivated to workout (i.e. they have the desire to workout and get fit), the people who actually stick to their goals do one thing very differently from everyone else.
Here's how researchers discovered the "one thing" that makes it more likely for you to stick to your goals...
In a study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, researchers measured how frequently people exercised over a two-week period.
The researchers started by randomly assigning 248 adults to one of three groups.
Group 1 was the control group. They were asked to keep track of how frequently they exercised over the next two weeks. Before they left, each person was asked to read the opening three paragraphs of an unrelated novel.
Group 2 was the motivation group. They were also asked to keep track of how frequently they exercised over the next two weeks. Then, each person was asked to read a pamphlet on the benefits of exercise for reducing the risk of heart disease. Participants in Group 2 were also told, "Most young adults who have stuck to a regular exercise program have found it to be very effective in reducing their chances of developing coronary heart disease."
The goal of these actions was to motivate Group 2 to exercise regularly.
Group 3 was the intention group. After being told to track their exercise, they also read the motivational pamphlet and got the same speech as Group 2. This was done to ensure that Group 2 and Group 3 were equally motivated.
Unlike Group 2, however, they were also asked to formulate a plan for when and where they would exercise over the following week. Specifically, each person in Group 3 was asked to explicitly state their intention to exercise by completing the following statement...
During the next week, I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on [DAY] at [TIME OF DAY] at/in [PLACE].
After receiving these instructions, all three groups left.
The Surprising Results: Motivation vs. Intention
Two weeks later, the researchers were surprised by what had happened in the three groups.
- In the control group, 38 percent of participants exercised at least once per week.
- In the motivation group, 35 percent of participants exercised at least once per week.
- In the intention group, an incredible 91 percent of participants exercised at least once per week.
Simply by writing down a plan that said exactly when and where they intended to exercise, the participants in Group 3 were much more likely to actually follow through.
A study in the British Journal of Health Psychology found that 91 percent people who planned their intention to exercise by writing down when and where they would exercise each week ended up following through. Meanwhile, people who read motivational material about exercise, but did not plan when and where they would exercise, showed no increase compared to the control group. (Graphic by James Clear.)
Perhaps even more surprising was the fact that having a specific plan worked really well, but motivation didn't work at all. Group 1 (the control group) and Group 2 (the motivation group) performed essentially the same levels of exercise.
Or, as the researchers put it, "Motivation ... had no significant effects on exercise behavior."
Compare these results to how most people talk about making change and achieving goals. Words like motivation, willpower, and desire get tossed around a lot. But the truth is, we all have these things to some degree. If you want to make a change at all, then you have some level of "desire."
The researchers discovered that what pulls that desire out of you and turns it into real-world action isn't your level of motivation, but rather your plan for implementation.
How to Follow Through With Your Goals
Deciding in advance when and where you will take specific actions to reach your goal can double or triple your chances for success. -- Heidi Grant Halvorson, Columbia University professor
This business about planning your actions and achieving your goals isn't a random, one-time research discovery.
For example, similar studies have found that...
- Women who stated when and where they would perform a breast self-examination, did it 100% of the time. Meanwhile, those who didn't state when and where only performed the exam 53% of the time (study).
- Dieters who formulated a plan for when and how they would eat healthier were significantly more likely to eat healthy than those who did not (study).
- People who wrote down when and where they would take their vitamins each day were less likely to miss a day over a five week span than those who did not (study).
In fact, over 100 separate studies in a wide range of experimental situations have come to the same conclusion: People who explicitly state when and where their new behaviors are going to happen are much more likely to stick to their goals.
You can apply this strategy to almost any goal you can think of, and certainly to most health goals. For example, if you want to start a daily meditation habit this month, then you'll be more likely to stick to your goal if you plan out when and where you'll meditate each day.
What to Do When Plans Fall Apart
The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray. -- Robert Burns
Sometimes you won't be able to implement a new behavior -- no matter how perfect your plan. In situations like these, it's great to use the "if-then" version of this strategy.
You're still stating your intention to perform a particular behavior, so the basic idea is the same. This time, however, you simply plan for unexpected situations by using the phrase, "If ____, then ____."
- If I eat fast food for lunch, then I'll stop by the store and buy some vegetables for dinner.
- If I haven't called my mom back by 7 p.m., then I won't turn on the TV until I do.
- If my meeting runs over and I don't have time to workout this afternoon, then I'll wake up early tomorrow and run.
The "if-then" strategy gives you a clear plan for overcoming the unexpected stuff, which means it's less likely that you'll be swept away by the urgencies of life. You can't control when little emergencies happen to you, but you don't have to be a victim of them either.
Use This Strategy to Achieve Your Goals
If you don't plan out your behaviors, then you rely on your willpower and motivation to inspire you to act. But if you do plan out when and where you are going to perform a new behavior, your goal has a time and a space to live in the real world. This shift in perspective allows your environment to act as a cue for your new behavior.
To put it simply: planning out when and where you will perform a specific behavior turns your environment into a trigger for action. The time and place triggers your behavior, not your level of motivation.
This strategy ties in nicely with the research I've shared about how habits work, why you need to schedule your goals, and the difference between professionals and amateurs. (For a complete discussion on habit formation, check out this free guide I put together on transforming your habits.)
So what's the moral of this story?
Motivation is short lived and doesn't lead to consistent action. If you want to achieve your goals, then you need a plan for exactly when and how you're going to execute on them.
James Clearwrites at JamesClear.com, where he shares science-based ideas for living a better life and building habits that stick. To get strategies for boosting your mental and physical performance by 10x, join his free newsletter.
This article was originally published on JamesClear.com.
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