Confidence hacks for ordinary people living in this extra-ordinary world

Are you ready to hear what the most overplayed record from internet gurus is? It’s this: “I once was just like you, but now I’m magically better through these seven steps! (And also buy my book to be just like me!)”

I do have a book, and I do write in the personal development genre on occasion. But I’m also committed to honesty.

Which is why I have to tell you I’m not just like you. In fact, nobody is. I won’t pretend to know everything you’re going through. I can’t tell you what you “should” be doing in life. And besides, I don’t want you to be like me. I want you to be like you.

That’s why I share my experience, not my advice. And in my experience, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have confidence in myself.

Moments of nerves? Yes.

Days of uncertainty? Sure.

Overall dip in confidence? Nope.

Here’s why I think that is (and also some tips you can take with you):

1. Surround Yourself With People Who Think You’re Awesome

Wait! You can’t blame bad parents for skipping this step. I’ve met people who had miserable parents and are swimming in confidence. I’ve also met people who had miserable parents and are drowning in self-doubt.

Make the decision at this moment that you won’t allow the people of your past to influence the people of your future. Ultimately, you will reflect who you spend time with—so look for folks who complement and compliment you.

I have a call with two of the people I love most in the world once a week. Sometimes we talk about business. Sometimes we talk about—get this—real life. They are a consistent presence of encouragement and hope in my life.

Be a good friend. Get good friends. Keep good friends.

2. Do What You’re Good At

Imagine you’re standing in front of a man handing you a check for $6,000. This check is not for a shady deal, but a consequence of your hard work for the last week.

There’s just one problem. You didn’t know you were getting paid.

“That not work!” you say. “That’s just XYZ.”

Whatever goes in that blank for you should be done every single day. It doesn’t matter if you’re getting paid or not. It doesn’t matter if you think you have no time. You control how good you are at what you love, and how much energy you spend getting better at it. You control the choice to pursue a career you love. The only thing you don’t control is when your life will radically shift into what you want.

3. Constantly Learn New Things

This sounds like opposite advice from number two, but it isn’t.

From the beginning of time, one attribute has been more critical to humanity than any other: adaptability. If nothing else, I’m certain this world will change. Your ability to not only cope, but thrive during change will give you confidence.

“I can learn anything,” you’ll think. And you’ll be right.

4. Stay Healthy

Oops, I forgot. I do remember the last time I lost confidence in myself.

In 2014, I spend the majority of the year getting cameras pushed inside of me, trying to figure out why my stomach was hell-bent on killing me.

Not only that, whatever weakness I had meant I was getting a fever and vomiting at least once a month. It’s difficult to stand with strength when you’re busy wondering which part of your body your lunch is going to end up coming out of (sorry to get graphic).

Thank goodness for the faith of my doctors, who rallied me with hope by repeatedly reminding me, “You’re young, there can’t be anything that wrong with you,” or “This happens to a lot of people. You’ll probably just have to live with it for the next 50 or so years you’re alive.”

Nobody can affect your health more than you can—not even doctors. Their job is to see as many people as possible to bring money to the hospital, not attend to your concerns.

So, at a minimum:

  • Raise your heart rate above resting rate (on purpose) for at least 10 minutes a day
  • Eat at least one veggie a day
  • Eat sugar as sparingly as possible

This may not seem like a confidence hack, but if your body is falling apart, it’s tough to do anything else. As Christopher McCandless said, “I read somewhere…how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong, but to feel strong”

5. Tell Yourself a Good Story

Here’s an interesting bit of brain science: Whenever your mind receives consistent messages of positivity, the front part of your brain generates a lot more activity. This part of the brain is responsible for logic, motivation, and reasoned action.

When the opposite occurs (like when you’re consistently telling yourself “I suck”), the amygdala—which is responsible for emotional “flight or fight” reactions—lights up like a Christmas tree.

Here’s the kicker: Whenever the amygdala generates more activity, other parts of the brain start to shut down.

Long story short—every single one of your thoughts impacts who you are.

When you speak to yourself with consistently negative language, your biology is removing the driving forces behind motivation, confidence, and other higher-level thoughts and devoting energy to reactive activity.

6. Eliminate Negativity

This is a challenge. Actually, it’s impossible, but I’m not going to change the header.

What actually is necessary for inspiring confidence is the elimination of dwelling on negativity. These emotions fall under that category:

  • Fear
  • Doubt
  • Shame
  • Guilt
  • Envy
  • Embarrassment

Commit to three days of banishing sustained negativity from your life. Any time you feel one of the emotions above, jump to the other tactics listed here.

I’d be lying if I said this step didn’t take some intentional ignorance. Shut off the news, remove yourself from gossipy co-workers, and build your own universe.

Remember, nobody can make you feel anything.

Oh, and in case you needed an extra boost today: I believe in you.

I believe in you despite your flaws. I believe in you because of your flaws. I believe you can defy the odds. I believe you can do work that matters. I believe you can silence the critics and step into your calling. I believe you can have fun in life (remember fun?). I believe you’re greater than you think you are. I believe that the world is better because you’re in it. I believe you can take this one life and grow something beautiful.

I believe in you—now go believe in yourself