Julie Jansen's Blog

Julie Jansen

Building Confidence Step-by-Step

Last week I had the rewarding opportunity of speaking to 150 high school girls for a program called “Innovate Her – a Girls’ Movement Rally,” an Empowered Girls Rise (www.empoweredgirlsrise.com) event. My keynote was on how to develop self-awareness, confidence, active listening skills, and other qualities. The reaction from the audience was positive, and it was clear that the topic of building confidence especially resonated with these young women.

I’ve always seen confidence as the ability to believe in yourself and your choices; to take pleasure in your relationships, and pride in your accomplishments; and to view yourself and your situation realistically. Confident people exude positive energy that draws others to them like a magnet. They tend to be optimists and risk-takers, and to excel at working under pressure, tolerating frustration and coping with adversity. Their confidence is inspiring and becomes contagious.

Unfortunately, the other side of the coin – suffering a crisis of confidence – is far more common. Someone with low confidence constantly looks to others for reassurance and approval and avoids taking risks or trying new things for fear of failure. Low expectations of yourself may feed how others view you, as well, and discourage them from seeking your opinion or taking you seriously. It also makes you an easier target for aggressive people and bullies.

To improve your confidence, start by giving yourself credit for past efforts and successes. Think about recent achievements, such as trying something new creatively, physically, or at work; it could be tackling a problem, addressing a habit you’d like to change, or simply expressing your opinion. Seeking out new experiences, despite the fear of failure, is a huge step toward building self-confidence. If you see each new venture as a chance to learn and grow, rather than a win or lose situation, it helps mitigate that extra pressure.

Keep things simple. Make a record of what you want to accomplish, how you’re going to do it, what you learn and how you adjust as you proceed. This process alone – tackling something that is new or challenging, finding creative solutions, and learning about yourself along the way – is what self-discovery is all about. Just the act of trying, no matter the outcome, can be invigorating and rewarding. Then, when you’ve tried something new, assess what went well or could have gone better, store that information for further use, and set out on your next journey.

If you view challenges as opportunities, face your doubts and fears, and see all efforts as positive steps, it will be a huge boost for your self-confidence and personal growth.