How To Build Confidence When Starting Something New
"And suddenly you know: It's time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” (Meister Eckhart)
Change is always a bit scary. Either of voluntary or involuntary origin. Sometimes life throws at you unexpected curve balls, but also great opportunities, which right in that moment tell you that some sort of change is coming. And it is no secret that change nearly always means that you have to step out of your comfort zone. Other times it is your own inner desire and craving that make you want to bring on some change, to embark on a new adventure. Either way, leaving your comfort zone requires courage and messes with your confidence levels.
Throughout the four decades of my life I have taken on my fair share of new adventures, which nearly always required time and effort to rebuild my confidence levels. There was this time when my 23-year-old self moved out of my home country to another totally different one. It took years to build my confidence related to the new cultural context and the local language. My path has been a gradual journey of growth and expansion (either brought on by external circumstances or my own desire of new experiences).
Every new phase of my life brought on new challenges, which nearly always required rebuilding the confidence gained. While my 16 years of living abroad has included plenty of solitary moments of insecurity, there have been many more occasions I deliberately took on a new challenge (of course preferring the term "new adventure" at all times).
Did I always feel confident? No, not at all. Did I (have to) go for all of it anyway, yes I absolutely did! Like there was this one time I strongly felt the urge to sign up for a PhD program while our business was in its first years of growth, I had a 1-year old daughter and a second baby on the way.. Looking back I can only laugh and ask from my younger self: "My dear, are you crazy???" Well to give an answer to that, at that time I simply "knew" and "trusted the magic of beginnings"!
I am sure there are these moments for you also in life when you simply "know" something. Now the question is, do you just know and keep dreaming, or do you really choose to go for it and take action!?
Why Is Comfort Zone so Comfortable
Comfort zone is comfortable because you know how everything works in there. You know what you have to do and what you are expected to do. You know how people around you act and there is little fear of failure or judgement of any kind. You also know what to do and how to be in case something does not work out the best way possible. You feel cozy and safe.
While the comfort zone is comfortable, there is no doubt that at times you might feel some sort of inner craving to move out of this zone and to do something different in your life. Hmm.. but somehow you might not find enough strength to go for it. You might even enjoy the safety of your limiting beliefs (e.g. I am too old; I am too reserved; I do not have enough experience; I do not speak the language well enough etc). Well as long as you do believe that you are not good enough for "something", this belief definitely feels like a great choice and excuse for not doing that "something". This belief keeps you safe.
However, what if I tell you that not everything that you are currently believing about yourself is true? What do you think a 20 years older version of yourself would tell you about these beliefs and your inner desires?
New Challenges Bring New Opportunities
You are fully "set up" for growth, development, expansion. You too started out as a baby, and look at you now! Who said that you are going to stop growing and developing? Staying stuck in your comfort zone will not enable you to experience fully your "being human experience" and your maximum potential in life. Like this you will stop yourself from discovering more about yourself, about the world and about what is possible for you.
Everything new is in the beginning a bit of a challenge for everybody. Starting over or starting something new will most definitely make you feel vulnerable. You take some time to evaluate the situation, gathering information and processing it. Depending on your previous experience, you either adapt to the new situation fast or take some time to do so. While novelty holds challenge, it most definitely holds also a lot of possibilities. Every challenge you overcome opens you doors to new opportunities - to new ways of seeing and doing things. Every experience will be integrated into yourself as knowledge and wisdom. And the more challenges (or shall I say adventures) you (choose to) face, the more confident you become regarding overcoming novelty and adversity. Knowing and believing that you are resourceful and able to overcome any circumstance is a powerful pillar for self-confidence. Each new experience contributes to that "knowing" and your self-belief.
Growing Confidence Through Competence
Besides your initial "knowing" and self-belief, which are so so important and necessary for "jump-starting", it is the level of competence that can greatly impact your confidence. The more action you take, the more experienced you become, thus the more confident you will naturally feel. The more experiences you gather, the more resourceful you will feel when it comes to overcoming challenges or keeping the momentum going. However, keep in mind that even if you have a lot of knowledge about a topic, applying it into a new context might require you to acquire new competences necessary for strengthening your confidence. Said this, it almost feels like confidence is a moving target.
I am actually starting to believe that the real self-confidence is all about knowing yourself and trusting your journey, while learning to surf the waves of confidence, learning to be comfortable with uncomfortable..
When Confidence Is Sort Of A Moving Target
Something tells me that in case you are one of these people who is endlessly seeking new ways to challenge yourself, to learn and to grow, if not to say encouraged and triggered positively about the game of confidence - you are doing awesome! Just when you have become comfortable and confident with what you do and know, you sort of need to jump out to try again something different. You are fine with learning and failing, you are in peace with vulnerability and judgement of others, you find beauty in testing and reinforcing your confidence over and over again. If that is you, I guess there is not much to add about confidence, congratulations! You are mastering this game perfectly.
How to Build Confidence - Few Mindset Hacks
In case you are, like most of us, still work in progress when it comes to confidence, do not worry at all. There is no behind in this game. There is also no end goal in this game. What matters is to keep going, to keep growing on your own pace. However if you are ready to follow some inner desires of yours or seek for some inspiration aiming to increase your self-confidence in your current circumstances, then try out these little mindset hacks: * Accept that confidence takes time to build.. Having this awareness helps you to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. * Challenge your fears. Check out that story of yours - is it rational? Is it true? How would it look like through more objective lens? * Use visualisation - Based on neuroscience, it is known that your brain believes in imagination the same way as in real images. Visualising daily yourself confidently achieving your goals will not only help you to believe that it is possible, but it will also guide you towards circumstances and opportunities that support your goal. * Start taking little steps towards your desired outcome - increase your competence through learning and doing. Show your brain that you can overcome challenges. * Celebrate each little success and milestone. Reminding yourself of all the great things that you have accomplished is invaluable as it reinforces your trust and belief into your strengths, abilities and capabilities, into your power. * Remember that you are not alone. Everybody worries about their self-confidence at one moment or other. It is part of life. Have you ever thought that maybe the person in front of you is also struggling with their own confidence?
Ask yourself: "Why is it important for me to take on that new adventure?
What will I miss out if I give up because of lack of confidence?"
Believing in yourself, in your ability and capacity, is the basis for a truly fulfilling life. The list of rewards related to self-confidence includes, among others, reducing fear and anxiety, increasing motivation, growing resilience, stronger relationships and greater sense of your authentic self. It is even said that many people fail to fulfil their potential not because they are not smart enough or lack opportunities or resources, but instead they do not believe enough in themselves. Get some further information and inspiration about how to build self-confidence through self-awareness, vulnerability and practice from one of my earlier posts "How Can You Grow Your Self-Confidence Muscle?".
While I did say that there is no end goal in this game of confidence, I do want to encourage you to keep challenging yourself with new exciting growth opportunities and adventures. To tell you the truth I do have difficulty to believe that we are here simply to tick off some to-do lists that carry us from morning till evening, from life till… There must be more!? What if that “more” is about following your heart and your unique desires? What if that “more” is about learning, growing, experiencing new things?
What can you do today not to end up your Last Hour thinking “I wish I had been more confident for X, Y and Z”!
With love, C.