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Did you know you can build confidence by trying new things or taking risks? Both those things may feel a bit daunting right now, but hear me out as I explain why you should give both a try, okay?

Do you ever assess where you are in life? Nothing too deep, just stuff like have I done anything really daring lately? Or what’s the one thing in life I’ll NEVER do? It’s Kirbie today, and I’ve been running this question through my head quite a bit lately. I’m not sure I’m happy with the answer.

Build Confidence by Facing Fears

We have a big family vacation coming up in about a week. I’m looking to it with mixed emotions, but that’s a different story. My middle daughter, who is wound pretty tight, is talking about going zip-lining. I’m shocked that she’s even uttered the words, but she has. She and her boyfriend are planning to go zip-lining while we’re relaxing in the beautiful foothills of the Smokey Mountains.

Between her wanting to do that, and rereading a couple of Gregg’s books lately, I’ve begun to wonder what I’ve done lately to challenge myself or do something I’m afraid of. The answer is very little. I’ve taken risks, no doubt, and I do feel more confident because of them, but there are some things on my “I’d never do that” list that I’m reconsidering.

When I look back on my 50+ years of life, I realize that I’ve taken risks in the past. I rode a roller coaster, actually two different roller coasters on two different trips to the same amusement park. Both times, the risk was taken due to peer pressure (ahh high school!). I’m terrified of roller coasters, so this was a biggie for me. Even those water log rides are pushing it for me, but if my Mom will go, who am I to stand and hold purses?

There’s No Time Like the Present!

In the 30 years since high school, I don’t think I’ve taken many big risks. I took a trip to Lake Tahoe many years ago and hiked with a boyfriend up the mountain. It was just a day hike – maybe 4 hours up, 5 or so back down, and it was a tremendous challenge for me because I have major knee issues. I felt such a sense of pride and accomplishment, and I’d actually like to do it again.

I was recently rereading To Date a Man, You Must Understand a Man, just one of Gregg’s best-selling dating advice books. While reading, this issue of challenging yourself came up again and I started thinking about what I’ve done lately that was risky or challenging. Other than leaving corporate America to work on my own, I can’t come up with much. All I can come up with is some public speaking and a trip by myself to France. It’s time to make some changes!

Create Goals

My first step is to make a new list of goals. This list will have a few items that feel risky, to me anyway. Once I have my list, I’ll make a plan of attack. I use the word attack instead of action because I think I need to attack my fears. Taking action just seems too mild-mannered, Clark Kent instead of Superman, or Superwoman!

After that, I need to find someone brave enough to go with me, but this shouldn’t be a problem. Then, it’s time to take some risks. Some of the things on my list are truly things I’m terrified of, so I need to muster up quite a bit of courage, but I think I can manage.

build confidence

My Journey to Build Confidence

Early Childhood

It’s natural to have fears. Everyone does, but that doesn’t mean we should allow those fears to dictate how we live our lives. I grew up a scared, shy little girl. My mother was a bit of a tyrant at times, and I was afraid of her. I lived with different kinds of fear then, and facing any of them wasn’t something I considered.

As kids, we didn’t even think about crossing our mother. To be fair, she acknowledges that she was a bit over the top, but I’ve also come to recognize that she is sadly a low-confidence woman. She’s very anxious and doesn’t see the beautiful, kind, and giving person everyone else sees.

A Young Adult

My low confidence and self-esteem carried me through my school years and into my adulthood. I married too young, latching on to the first guy who showed an interest. The benefit of the marriage was four beautiful children and now eight wonderful grandchildren, but I continued to make mistakes because of my low confidence.

After twelve years, we divorced, which always causes a dip in confidence. It’s hard to believe mine could go lower. Like most women who’ve experienced a breakup, I started looking for a relationship too soon. Of course, this is where I believed I would uncover my worth and be validated. I could find happiness again if only I could find a new man. And I did, but what a mess. I won’t even bore you with what a disaster that was!

After a couple of years, I moved two hours away, which was a considerable risk number one! My confidence grew a little, but not enough to make a difference. To make a lot of failed relationship stories short, I still dated anyone who showed an interest. I was clueless about confidence and whether I had any, which, of course, I didn’t.

Then a few years later, I took a more significant risk and returned to school. Three of my four kids were in school full-time, so I had more time. Each quarter brought new, perhaps irrational fears, but I was always able to find my class (fear #1), and most of the time, I could almost understand the instructors (fear #2). Additionally, I was getting good grades (fear #3).

An Old Lady

When I graduated from The Ohio State University, I was fortunate enough to be hired by my father to work for his non-profit. I had built some confidence while in college, but I had a way to go, and I was still clueless about the idea of confidence, so I didn’t know I needed to do the work.

While working for him, my confidence grew quite a bit. Over the ten years, I worked for the non-profit, I was thrown into situations where I had to fake it to look like I knew what I was doing. Here are a few things that helped me finally build some meaningful confidence during those years. I:

  • Oversaw the construction of our new office space and, later, an expansion
  • Attended and sometimes ran meetings with business leaders
  • Obtained certification as an innovation coach
  • Led workshops on innovation with companies
  • Developed and led several sister state organizations to help teens understand the potential for jobs in manufacturing
  • Traveled to Lyon, France, to speak to a group of business leaders about innovation

I know that sort of reads like a resume, but each of those things is on the list because each one forced me to face a fear or try something new, often both.

Fast forward ten years, and I’m working for Gregg. This was the most significant factor in my quest to build confidence. Gregg is a wonderful mentor, and he’s enabled me to spread my wings. Between reading and writing with him, I’ve grown into a confident woman.

Now, not only have I spread my creative wings with my own creative business, but I’m in a wonderful relationship that wouldn’t have worked many years ago!

How Building Confidence Works

When you live in fear, as I did for so many years, your confidence is low. Facing a fear gives you more of a can-do attitude. If you can overcome that fear, maybe you can overcome another. It builds on itself. Your belief in yourself grows with each new fear you overcome.

The same is true of setting goals. When you set a goal and later achieve that goal, you believe in yourself, which is the definition of confidence. Confidence is your belief in your ability to do something. A small goal will boost your confidence a little bit while reaching a more significant goal boosts your confidence more.

As you consider your journey to build confidence, I hope it will include goal-setting and facing your fears! Best of luck to you! I’m off to check that list!

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