By ProBlogger Expert Ellen Jackson.
Believe you can and you’re half way there
Theodore Roosevelt, allegedly.
Once upon a time I decided to write and publish a book. I wasn’t a writer. I had no experience. I had no contacts in publishing. I had no idea really. I just really thought it would be great to write a book.
Fast forward two years and I held in my hand not one copy of my co-authored self-improvement book, but three. One published in the UK and Australia. Another published in the US and a third published in The Netherlands. In Dutch.
The path to get to that point was challenging – at times torturous. For months during the writing process I could not enter a bookstore due to the anxiety it provoked surrounding my own ability to pull this task off. But I did it and it felt good.
Recently, Mr ProBlogger himself asked the question: ‘What is your biggest challenge as a blogger?”
He produced a wordcloud and these are the responses that stood out to me:
Readers, writing, audience, traffic, content and ideas were in there too but it was these emotions that struck me. Our biggest challenges are our feelings. I know them well.
It’s a conversation you hear over and over again in Facebook groups, in blogging and entrepreneurial circles, anywhere you find people with big goals and big plans. We can do tech. We can do the words. We can do the ideas and the numbers. We can do the work.
It’s the feelings that bring us unstuck – and most of those feelings boil down to confidence. Or not enough of it.
A lack of confidence holds us all back at times. We’re human. We worry about failure. We worry about others’ perception. We’re scared of rejection. We second guess ourselves. We procrastinate.
Even the biggest issue identified by Darren’s readers – time – is underpinned by confidence. We don’t feel we have time to do what we want to do, but scratch the surface and you’ll find that if we’re confident about our path to success our priorities quickly reshuffle to find that precious time. Confidence = time.
Why is confidence so hard?
For starters it’s a slippery concept. What is it exactly?
Psychologists rarely talk about confidence as a thing. It’s many things. It’s hope. It’s optimism. It’s self belief and it’s self-efficacy – the degree to which you think and feel your actions will achieve results.
When these things combine we believe that we can achieve our goals and we get on and do it, but the path to getting there differs for each of us.
So how do we build our confidence?
Here are some tips:
- Start small. Don’t try to conquer the mountain in one leap. Take it a step at a time. Focusing on a big end point is overwhelming and anxiety inducing. Smaller tasks are manageable. Don’t set your sights on producing the most popular blog that ever there was. Just write a blog post and share it. Then plan the next one.
- Make conscious comparisons. We all compare ourselves and our abilities to those around us. Upward social comparison is the tendency to compare our efforts and achievements to those we feel are ‘better’ than us in some domain. The desire may be to look to others who are more skilled and successful in order to learn from them. The effect, if we don’t have the skills or experience or tenure to match their output just yet, is crushed confidence. Look at what others are doing. Learn from them, but be realistic in your comparisons and remember to run your own race.
- Get happy. Your mood makes a difference. The ‘broaden and build theory’ from positive psychology tells us that positive emotions broaden your sense of possibility and open your mind to new options and ideas. We’re more likely to take chances, to experiment and to get creative when we’re feeling good. This in turn builds our skills and resources and the end point is greater confidence. If you’re struggling with a task or goal, park it, engage in something that puts you in a good mood and then try again.
- Know your strengths. We’ve all got skills, talents and strengths that give us energy when we use them. Yours might be a love of learning that drives you to research topics and ideas that you can share with readers. You may possess great social intelligence, ensuring that you quickly engage and build an audience. Being clear on your strengths and what you bring to the world and then using those strengths in your blogging not only helps to build your confidence but it’s great for your wellbeing too!
- Draw on past success. Here’s an exercise to try. Sit for a moment and think back over the past 12 months. What have you achieved? Bring every little win to mind, no matter how small. It might be publishing your first blog post, or launching on online course? Maybe it’s the first few dollars earned through your blog or establishing a brand new business? Focus on those wins. Feel the strength and confidence that comes from knowing that you can do it.
- Manage your mind. Our minds are riddled with ANTS (automatic negative thoughts) especially when our confidence is low. ‘I can’t do it’ ‘This is hopeless’ ‘This idea will never fly’ ‘It’s too hard’. Pay attention to those ANTS and turn them into PETS (performance enhancing thoughts). ‘This is hard but I’ve done harder things before’ ‘This feels hopeless right now but if I take it one step at a time I reckon I can do it’ ‘This idea will fly, I just need to persevere’ and ‘I can do it. I will do it!’ This is a strategy that psychologists have taught for years and years and it works to get you out of that negative slump.
If a project is new and exciting and challenging it comes hand in hand with moments of self-doubt – often downright struggle – but it’s the struggle towards our important goals that brings the sweetness to your success.
Work on your confidence and keep going. If I can do it, you can too.