Taking Action to Build Confidence
Have you ever taken action on something you were dreading and then wondered why it took you so long? If so, I’m not surprised! You see, all too often, our experience of DREADING the thing we are avoiding doing is WAY worse than actually doing it.
Think about it. If you have a fear of public speaking, you imagine the worst-case scenarios that could happen if you have to talk in front of a group. In doing so, those thoughts actually create the feelings you would have in that situation, essentially creating the experience for you of being in it. So even though it’s NOT actually happening, you’re experiencing it as if it had! Compare that to the experience of actually speaking in front of the group, which is of course going to be WAY less eventful (and dramatic!) than having all your worst-case scenario fears come to life. By comparison, it feels WAY less traumatic and way more comfortable. So you see….in our efforts to avoid discomfort, we actually CREATE more of it!
So what if instead of spending our energy avoiding the things we fear we instead invested it in exploring the mindsets keeping us stuck and creating solid action plans to help us generate the outcomes we want rather than the ones we fear?
I was working with a client who wasn’t seeing the progress she wanted on her goals. She had a strong “why” for her vision and a TON of knowledge behind her, yet she was getting nowhere! The problem? She wasn’t taking any action! And the more I challenged her to take action, the more she seemed to resist. Very quickly, something became very clear…despite her training and knowledge, she was not confident in what she had to offer! In her mind, because she didn’t think she could do things perfectly, she must not be ready. And you know one of the reasons WHY she lacked confidence? Because she wasn’t DOING anything that would change it! You see, because she wasn’t taking risks, she wasn’t proving to herself that she was brave and capable. Because she wasn’t actively pursuing her goals, she wasn’t seeing evidence of her ability to be successful. In essence, her lack of action was what was creating the problem!
And while it’s easy to look at a situation like this and say “she just needs to take a big leap to get things moving,” that isn’t always the best approach. You see, for people who are so afraid that they are taking NO action, a better approach may be to encourage a focus on baby steps, like I did with my client. Because as those baby steps start to happen successfully, it helps to eliminate some of the fear, and it also helps to start to create momentum…and a sense of confidence!
You see, we often fail to take the action needed to achieve our goals because we are not confident in ourselves and our abilities. Interestingly, I have found that the times when I feel the MOST confident are when I put myself out there in the world, taking action toward the things I most want...even when I feel unprepared! So how do we do that? First, we need to understand the foundational truth that with very few exceptions in life NOTHING will change for us or in our lives unless we take the action to CREATE the change. So if we want something different, we must commit to taking action. Second, we need to recognize that if we wait until we feel confident to take the action needed, we will more than likely NEVER get started. In fact, if we listen to our inner insecurities, doubts, and misgivings, we will be far less likely to accomplish anything of value.
So the alternative? We commit to showing up DESPITE not feeling confident. How? Try practicing the connection between action taking and the outcome you crave:
“Today I will take action even if I’m afraid or not feeling confident because I know taking action will help me accomplish…”
The more you practice this kind of brave self-talk to help yourself show up, the more showing up will become a part of what you do.