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How to create confidence and opportunity

You’d be forgiven for finding yourself in a huge motivation slump over the last year. We’ve all been going through the trauma of a pandemic -feeling isolated, carrying health, career and financial stress and wrestling with a sinking feeling that life is passing us by with no chance to make our goals happen.

It hasn’t been much of a year for taking risks, like jumping into a new career or braving the dating world (if online dating doesn’t appeal to you).Most of us are taking cover in our comfort zones until ‘this’ blows over. But we have been given the chance to stop and figure out what really matters in life and what we want from it (or in many cases realising exactly what we don’t want). The problem is, when the world went into hibernation, many of us found our confidence took a huge hit. Careers were put on hold with furlough or redundancy, socialising stopped altogether and the chances of making organic connections disappeared.

Confidence can be the difference between having a list of goals and having a list of achievements. You need the belief that you’re worthy of the things you want and have the drive to take action and make choices that will help get you there.

So how do you actually lock down the confidence part? Whilst confidence may be genetically influenced, it’s also the result of unique patterns in our brains which we can actively shape. Confidence is a skill that can be learned, developed and applied over time.

Our self-doubt emerges in times of uncertainty, in repeating a situation we didn’t do so well in before (and convincing ourselves we’re doomed to repeat it), in worrying what others think of us, or in simply feeling out of control of a situation when we know there are gaps in our knowledge or experience.

Know that it’s completely normal to not always feel confident, even those we look up to and aspire to be experience the exact same feelings. The Beyonces and Steve Jobs of the world are not genetically programmed to be eternally self-believing. Everyone has to work at it. We all have our strengths, and the problem is we never focus on how confident we feel in those. We tend to hyper focus on the things we don’t feel we’re good enough at.

For those who are feeling lost I think it’s a great exercise to write out or verbalise all of your successes. Think of the hurdles you’ve overcome before and the feeling of achievement when you did. Confidence comes from overcoming the things we’re afraid of and realising that actually we can do it. Become your own cheerleader and change your internal monologue.

I’d also recommend surrounding yourself with the right kind of people. If you’ refeeling embarrassed to go for the things you want, or like you’ll be judged, it might be time to reevaluate who you’re spending time with. We really are the makeup of the people around us and when you’re trying to grow you need a supportive team around you, who are equally ambitious. Find those who are doing what you want to do and learn from them, feed off of their energy and confidence.

There’s no denying we all take a little confidence knock when things don’t go our way, but who in life gets everything they want the first time they try? Or even the second or third time? Try to remember that it’s all part of the journey. Looking back you’ll probably notice patterns throughout your life where something that didn’t work out ended up taking you on a path that you’re extremely thankful for in hindsight. I believe in a mixture of “what’s for you won’t go by you” and hard work pays off!

The truth is if you truly want something, you will work harder, and your chances of succeeding will be significantly higher. Reflect and learn from your previous experiences and don’t let them stop you from trying again – you’ll know even more this time.

In terms of jumping into the unknown, unfortunately we’ll never be able to predict the future, and wouldn’t life be boring if we could?We can’t control every situation to ensure we’re going in informed and confident, but we can control how we approach it. I really stand by the classic phrase “fail to prepare, prepare to fail.”

If you’re not confident in public speaking and you don’t spend ample time planning out your speech and practising it (out loud!), then it is less likely to go well. You may never truly feel at home on a stage but what you can do is know your stuff, inside out. You’ll go in knowing you’re as prepared as you possibly can be, and you’ll be confident in what you’re about to say. A little pre-event meditation and positive affirmations can help to calm your nerves too.

As with everything, practice makes perfect. You’ll have to push yourself out of your comfort zone enough for that “zone” to absorb the things that once scared you. Take your new go-getter attitude and make a list of everything you want to achieve this year and beyond. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to fulfil what you want to achieve.

Kirsty Hulse is an inspirational “life changing” speaker on Teamwork, Performance and Confidence

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