7 Practical Ways to Build the Confidence You Need to Succeed in Business and Life

by Corey Pemberton 8 Minutes

Ever feel like a fraud?

I know I have.

You’re up to your ears in responsibilities, doing everything in your power to reach your goals and manage the stress, when that awful (but familiar) feeling hits you:

Who are you trying to fool? Maybe you don’t have what it takes to pursue your dreams…

Those feelings of inadequacy and doubt are terrible.

But they’re probably based on lies.

Odds are you’re dramatically underestimating your abilities to get what you want in life. This leads to plenty of fear and anxiety, and in the worst cases, paralysis: not going after your dreams.

If only you could train yourself to become more confident like the people you most admire…

You absolutely can! Keep reading to find out how.

Self Confidence Is Priceless, but Many of Us Struggle

Work ethic and dedication will take you a long way, but confidence can make the difference between a decent outcome and a massively successful one.

How highly you believe your own abilities – and how well you present that belief to others – has a huge impact on your financial success.

Being confident also inspires confidence from others, which matters whether you’re looking for a business partner, client, or romantic relationship. How are you supposed to get others to believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself?

  • On average, confident people earn more money and receive promotions faster than their less confident colleagues.
  • People are more likely to believe false information when presented overconfidently than true information that’s presented not as confidently.
  • Confident people are even more attractive to potential romantic partners.

So confidence is widely accepted as a good quality to have. It affects practically every aspect of your life, which raises some tough questions…

Why do so many of us struggle with this?

Most importantly: what can we do to fix it?

Most Confidence Advice Is Confusing and Unhelpful

“You should be more confident!”

You’ve probably heard that advice more than you can remember.

It always makes me cringe whenever I hear someone say that. I want to shake them and ask the only question that comes to mind: how?

All of us recognize the value of confidence. Figuring out how to get it is another story. Some people believe you just can’t build it; it’s “built in” from birth. And plenty of confident people struggle to communicate how they’ve developed this belief in themselves.

Good news:

Emerging research has revealed that confidence is a learned skill. You can consciously develop it to help you get the things you want in life.

Practical Ways to Start Building Your Confidence Today

Lost in all the platitudes and vague advice, we can find proven, practical tips to boost your confidence.

This isn’t a quick fix or overnight process. It could take a while before you shake off the uncertainty and old habits to reveal the stronger, more confident “you”…

But it’s well worth the effort.

Here’s how to get started:

7. Present the Best Version of Yourself

build confidence business

Photo Credit: adley haywood

I spent years spinning my wheels trying to figure out how to fix my confidence issues from within.

I could have saved a lot of time and effort if I thought about the problem differently – if I decided to fix things from the outside in.

You might not be able to change how you feel about yourself overnight…

But you can change how you dress. You can pay more attention to your grooming and appearance. These simple things will build your confidence.

This sounds shallow, but it works. A Northwestern University study found that people who wore white doctor coats (clothes associated with competence and intelligence) during a test performed better than people who didn’t. All they did was change their clothes!

You don’t have to break the bank on designer suits or fancy haircuts either. What does the most confident version of yourself wear? It might not be formal, but it’s probably clean and well fitting. Do your best to convey your own vision of success.

When you look like you’re already confident and successful, people will respond positively, giving you even more reasons to feel and act confidently. You get real-world feedback that encourages confidence growth… instead of just getting ignored or blending in.

6. Pay Attention to Your Speech, Posture, and Body Language

confident body language

Photo Credit: danielfoster437

Imagine the most confident person you know.

Do they sit up straight or slouch?

Is their desk a mess?

Do they talk fast, like they’re worried someone will cut them off? Or do they take their time and choose their words carefully?

Confident people typically don’t act like that. They usually speak slowly – loud enough so you don’t have to ask them to repeat themselves. They use open, confident body language. Their posture is good enough to make their mothers proud.

No matter how you feel about yourself, there’s no reason why you can’t work on these things now. They’ll well within your control to change. And doing so will give you a nice confidence boost.

Pay attention to your:

  • Speech. Practice speaking slowly and projecting loud enough to make yourself heard. There are tons of great exercises you can try to help you get better at this. One of my favorites is to just occasionally record myself telling a story I know well, making sure I don’t hurry and leaving room for natural pauses. You could even join a public speaking organization like Toastmasters.
  • Posture. A study published in the journal Psychological Science found that upright, expansive posture made people feel (and act) more powerful than guarded, closed posture. So sit up straight, with your head high and your shoulders back!
  • Body language. Pay attention close attention to how you interact with people. Are you fidgeting, or looking around instead of giving direct eye contact? Check out the fascinating TED talk below to see just how important all these little things really are:

You might feel like a phony when you start doing this, but keep at it. Things will feel much more natural as you get comfortable.

5. Surround Yourself in a Positive, Supportive Environment

positive environment

Photo Credit: csfgirl

You didn’t just wake up one morning fresh out of confidence.

Your environment plays a bigger role than you might know. It can either encourage your confidence to grow, or it can chip away at it day after day.

This means that you can give yourself the gift of more confidence… simply by being selective about the people and messages you surround yourself with!

Take a hard look at the people you spend the most time with. Are you surrounding yourself with positive, optimistic people who work hard to better themselves and achieve their goals? Or are they comfortable where they are, and quick to tear down any outside-the-box ideas or people who succeed?

The media you consume matters too. If you’re spending a few hours a day reading clickbait gossip stories or negative news stories about political candidates you can’t stand, stop!

Eliminate negative people and messaging from your life. Replace them with positive people and content (podcasts, books, etc.) that inspires you. “Tend the garden” of your mind.

4. Exercise

yoga pic

Photo Credit: Jeffrey

Like we needed another reason to exercise!

Beyond all the awesome physical and mental benefits, physical activity can even boost your confidence.

Exercise releases a flood of endorphins in your body, which can improve the way you see yourself and even ease feelings of stress.

It doesn’t take grueling, two-hour workouts either. Just a little bit will take you a long way. One Canadian study found that just two exercise sessions a week helped overweight teens feel more competent socially, academically, and athletically. It also improved their body image and self esteem.

Another cool thing: the benefits of the endorphin rush are immediate. You don’t have to be in shape or even notice changes to your body for the exercise confidence boost. It can help literally the first time you work out.

If you keep up the exercise and live a healthy lifestyle, noticing the physical changes will give you an even greater confidence boost!

3. Visualize Your Ideal Outcomes in Detail

visualize success

Photo Credit: Armando Maynez

Visualization is incredibly powerful, but most of us only use it negatively. We let our anxious minds run wild with hypothetical disaster scenarios, but we don’t leave room for success.

Experts believe that visualizing the result you want beforehand (nailing the presentation, client call, etc.) will make you feel more confident because it prepares your brain for success.

So why not give it a try?

Visualize your success for the next crucial moment in your business. The more vivid and detailed your vision, the better. What are you wearing? What are you feeling? Who else is in the room?
Imagine your goals like you’ve already achieved them, and you’ll grow your confidence dramatically.

2. Seek Small Victories

small victories

Photo Credit: Matthew Warner

A lot of people struggle with confidence because they’re so focused on the ultimate outcome: the dream life they aspire to. That massive success can seem far removed from reality today.

You’ll need a lot of confidence to reach those levels of success, and that’s okay because you can build it gradually.

Break up your goals into small, manageable chunks – preferably outcomes within your control. Focus on doing what you need to do today. Earn small victories.

One of my biggest missteps starting business online was trying to earn a specific amount of money/month. You might have similar benchmarks in mind. The problem: the number seemed so far away.

When I was still figuring things out, it was tough to make $1, much less thousands!

Things got a lot easier when I shifted my goals to small, manageable chunks – things I controlled. My focus changed to approaching X clients a day, submitting X guest posts, etc. I focused on what I needed to do at that moment instead of the ideal result.

Your daily victories pile up into weekly and monthly victories, and you find yourself much more confident than before. Your results are better. And you establish a pattern of success.

1. Practice Gratitude Every Day

practice gratitude

Photo Credit: amy warner

You might want so much more out of your business and life…

But what about all the wonderful things you already have?

It’s so easy for them to get lost in the mad scramble for success.

That’s a shame, because recognizing all the great things you have going for you is a recipe for more confidence.

There’s no reason why you can’t appreciate what you’ve already done now – how far you’ve come and the people who joined you in the journey – while still working hard to reach the next level.

Practice gratitude. This is such a simple thing to do. It might be as easy as simply listing off five things you’re thankful for after you wake up or just before you go to sleep.

What you’re grateful each day will change, but your past accomplishments will come up from time to time. These reinforce your confidence because they remind you how far you’ve already come.

Some people keep a special gratitude journal. I prefer to just think about what I’m grateful for before I go to bed. There’s no “right” way to do this except the way that works for you. Make gratitude a habit, and you’ll feel less anxious and more assured.

It’s impossible to be afraid when you’re being grateful. Give it a try and see for yourself!

Your Turn

There’s no better time to start building your confidence than now.

The process takes time, but it builds on itself. Small, steady gains in confidence lead to better decisions and opportunities, success, and even more confidence. It becomes a self-sustaining cycle.

It will help you ease anxiety and worry, chase your dreams relentlessly, and overcome the obstacles bound to show up along the way.

Have you struggled with confidence issues in your business or personal life? What have you done to try to overcome them? Leave a comment and share your experience below!

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by Corey Pemberton
Corey Pemberton is a freelance copywriter and blogger who helps small businesses and software startups get more traffic and conversions online. You can find him on his website or follow him on Twitter.