Recently, I have come to realize that while most people my age, that is, the 30’s or even early 40’s, talk about wanting to expand their horizons, do new things, climb the ladder, make more money etc. about 90% actually resist taking any action to implement the changes that they self-profess to desperately needing. It stumps me really.
It stumps and frustrates me because I don’t have the time to sit around and talk about these things, day after day, without taking the actions that will get me to where I want to go. Time, which people waste so easily, playing games on Facebook and their phones, or sitting around with cups of tea to complain about how little time they have for themselves.
So here’s my list on how to work on increasing the self-confidence to go after what you want:
1. Wake up early in the morning.
Practice by waking up 15 minutes before you normally do. Practice meditation or sit quietly to go over your day in your head. What do you want to do differently today?
To lead a productive life, I would advise this to everyone. Give up going to bed late, instead practice waking up early. Your body is a machine that needs rest when it’s resting time. Sleeping 6-8 hours every night gives your body the time it needs to rest, relax and repair itself.
In the morning, make sure you get your minutes alone. Talk to God. Talk to yourself. Pray, meditate, exercise. Center yourself into the moment before you plunge into your day.
2. Note your self-defeating assumptions.
What is it that you don’t do because you think you can’t do it. What holds you back from running after that dream of yours?
If you think your english is not good enough, stop watching all those hindi serials and movies. Instead the next time you are in front of the tv, pick the english channels. Listen to the news, watch the British and American serials. Pick the kind of movie that appeals to you and watch them. Practice speaking the lines the way the actors use them. (refrain from dropping the F*** word in every other sentence though).
If you are trying to pick up a language that is not native to you, then you need to understand how the natives use it. That’s the way you get comfortable using another language the same way that you use your own.
Read books – on subjects you know nothing about yet but will need to go forward in your career. Keep a note-book, write down the advises that you can use in your own life and use them often.
If the quality of your writing needs an overhaul, read and watch out for how others write. There are literally millions of free english lessons on the web. Do a course on basic grammar and sentence construction on Khan Academy online if you need to. Btw, the use of big words while writing doesn’t mean that you understand your subject better, it simply makes your writing difficult to read.
3. Write down your goals
I cannot say this often enough – have definite goals. When you formulate your goals, it’s not enough to say that I want a better paying job. Break it down – I want a job that pays ….. amount per month for ….. kind of work.
Same goes for health goals, if you say you want to lose 40 pounds at the end of the year, you might never get there. Break it down into bite size that you can handle – instead try “I will lose 4 pounds per month by exercising for half an hour every other day and cutting out cake/candy/chocolate from my diet”.
Goals that are too big and too far away into the future will lay by the way side and when the time comes for another end of the year review, you will be wondering why you didn’t get around to achieving them.
So you broke down your goals and the first month you did great, stayed on track etc. Then what did you do? Went out for dinner one night and ate a big chocolate pie? Or decided that there’s a Hindi movie running that’s too good to miss, so you switched over from watching english movies back to hindi ones?
Staying on track takes perseverance, patience and discipline. You are a grown up – behave like one. Hold yourself accountable and keep taking bite size pieces of your goal 🙂
5. Ask for help when you need it
Most people resist this – unconsciously. While you are busy running ahead and achieving your dreams, you will need to place a safety net of supporting people and you will have to support them equally in their dreams. Whether it’s in the family or at work, no one succeeds alone. Your family members have their own individual dreams and goals, so does your team mates. Keep note of that, help them out, it will make you stronger and better in the end. In the work place, keep an eye on your boss’ goals, help him/her achieve that and you earn the reputation of being a team member that anyone would love to have on their team.
6. Take responsibility for your own actions, consequences and failures
Here’s a prime example – in our society, more often than not, ask any divorced person, why they are divorced and they will invariably present you with a list of evils committed by their ex. Ask this of any employee fired from a company or friends who are no longer friends. The blame is always on someone else.
It takes 2 hands to clap, while one person may have committed the wrongs, the other has supported it by their silence. To confront someone on their wrong doing is not easy. In fact it can be down right scary because most of us have no idea how to handle conflict. And when we live in a culture of blame – we forget the cardinal rule – look within yourself first to see your own faults.
If people are mirrors, reflecting back on you what you reflect to the world. Then what is the world telling you? What is it that you don’t like? how are you causing/contributing to this? If you have been passed over for promotions year after year, why? What do you need to change?
7. Being Defensive
There’s no faster way to ensure that you stay right where you are, refusing all offers for help or even improvement – just by being defensive.
The world is not out to get you. But if you behave like it is, people will back off from giving you any sort of constructive criticism. Even your well-wishers will not want to say anything to you because you won’t hear it the way they are saying it. Let that guard down, listen to people when they talk, try to put yourself in their shoes.
I like people, sometimes, though I don’t like specific actions that they take. When I point that out, I am not criticizing the person, I am critiquing that specific action. I ask for feedback constantly, from my boss, my mentors, my friends, my colleagues. I lead that discussion with open questions so that they can give me the feedback I need to improve.When undertaking this discussion, remember to keep your body language neutral – don’t set your jaw, cross your arms over your chest – that’s a defensive pose that will contradict your words.
Also when receiving critical feedback, try to refrain from giving excuses, even if you have very valid excuses. Just the fact that you feel that you need to counter it with excuses gives the impression that you are not really interested in learning and evolving, you are simply trying to open the floor so that you can present your excuse. That’s not a constructive dialogue.
A confident person is not afraid of feedback – because he/she knows that they can only improve from it. It doesn’t diminish who they are. It doesn’t take them off-track from their goals. It takes nothing from their strength, instead it can make them stronger by eliminating their weaknesses.
8. Expect setback
Nothing is going to go the way you anticipate. No matter how much you plan and execute according to plan, things will always go wrong. Be flexible, be open to opportunities that arise from every difficulty. If you get mired in frustration, you won’t be thinking calmly about ways to overcome your difficulty.
You know the definition of insanity?
To do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result each time.
Are you insane? No? Then make sure you are not acting that way.
When you run into unexpected problems, calm down, think your way through, have plan B, C, D, E ready. I think of life like a chess game, if I am not thinking ahead by several moves, I am not really playing the game well. The end game is to win, to reach my goal, the way I get there will depend on the various sets of moves that I will have to execute as the situation will demand.
9. Being over-confident.
This is one I don’t understand. I don’t know everything – I know that. So I don’t get it when people get on their high horse and start behaving like they are infallible, like they know everything there is to know about anything. More often than not – it’s the sign of a small mind. It makes people arrogant and we have all seen how the mighty can fall, over the most trivial things.
Everyone’s journey in this world is different and there’s so much that we can learn from everyone we meet. But if you are overconfident, that’s where you will miss the learning opportunities that life will present to you.
My advice – stay off the high horse and God forbid, if I ever get on one, tell me to get the hell off it 🙂