When I was a kid, I recall having this odd confidence. I was going to live forever. I was going to be whatever I wanted to be. I was the centre of my little universe, with sun and everything else revolving around me. I guess all the kids come with it, that sort of confidence which comes from ignorance and innocence.
Since then, it's been a long and bumpy road. The more you learn about life and everything, the better you understand how little you know. That makes a dent on your confidence. I can tell you, depression and burnout don't help either.
In business, and life in general, having strong confidence is annoyingly important. With low confidence, it can be hard to land clients, jobs, projects, and whatnot. You end up being walked over and dismissed, and all the immoral bad people will take advantage of you and your measly self-esteem.
So what makes a person confident? There are of course multiple factors in the play, but I've noticed one, sort of a simple thing that has a huge impact on confidence.
Imagine a situation where you are talking with someone you admire. In this situation you are wearing unfitting itchy clothing, underwear that climbs inside your body and shoes that are too small. You have a bad hair day, and you are wearing too much or too little makeup. It's way too hot and you are sweating uncontrollably. Plus you are hungry and your stomach is making embarrassing noises. You don't even know that much about the subject of the conversation.
You are experiencing utter discomfort.
In this situation, besides feeling itchy and hot, you are most likely also feeling crushing lack of confidence. You doubt yourself and each word that comes out of your mouth. Your discomfort is made any confidence you ever had to go away.
Some people appear to be pretty confident in any situation. They have the confidence to splain stuff to people who actually know about said stuff much more than them. They have the confidence to think everyone finds them attractive and interesting. Until they feel some sort of discomfort. Then they moan and whine and blame others for being mean to them.
Feeling comfortable plays a big part in confidence.
When you are feeling comfortable in your skin, in your clothes and with your knowledge and skills, you also find yourself more confident. You just know you can.
Do you want to boost your confidence? Start with getting comfortable.
Your comfort can come from many things. Basic comfort things are such as health, having had enough food and water, and wearing comfortable clothing that fits the situation and the weather. Then there can be all kinds of appearance related stuff. Obviously having solid know-how always helps.
That said, not being completely healthy or as pretty as you'd like, don't have to stop you from building your confidence. If you just can find comfort otherwise. This may mean strengthening other stuff, such as your skills. And it may mean learning to be comfortable with your difficulties and limitations. For example, many people with depression learn to be comfortable with their depression (yes, it's easier said than done).
Comfort can come from both or either, external or internal factors. It could be about something like knowing and understanding yourself. Or it could be all about finding your style.
Building your skills and knowledge is crucial. When you know and can, it makes you more confident. Keep learning and updating your knowledge and skills.
In business, besides building and updating your other skills, also sharpen your business and marketing skills. Keep your business plan updated and revisit it when you need to remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing.
However, if you don't feel otherwise comfortable you may still succumb to impostor syndrome. The confidence can't come from the know-how alone, when you are feeling otherwise uneasy.
Learn to know yourself, and learn to be more gentle and understanding with yourself.
List your strengths and achievements (the small ones included), and keep that list close all the times. Make yourself comfortable with telling yourself and others what you are good at and what you have achieved. If someone tries to belittle your strengths and achievements, learn to gently ignore them or explain them how they are not being very constructive.
List also the things you believe in, value, want and know. You can use these things to create and publish your own manifesto.
Find your comfort zone and don't be afraid of it. A common misconception is that comfort zone is something bad and should be avoided. That you cannot create and innovate in your comfort zone. I don't believe in that for a second.
While it can be great for your creativity to make yourself uncomfortable and try new things now and then, the constant discomfort will crumble your confidence and limit your creativity. Learn how to be both comfortable and creative.
Practice and repeat things that are comfortable for you. For example, if you feel comfortable with blogging, keep on honing your blogging skills instead of forcing yourself to jump into other content creation methods. While video or podcasts may be very popular, you don't have to do them. At least not right now.
When you have done that enough, practice and repeat things that feel uncomfortable, until they feel comfortable. The human mind and body are quite flexible, and you can learn to be comfortable with uncomfortable things. If being in front of camera is uncomfortable for you, take self-portraits until it feels comfortable for you. (I have done exactly this and it worked wonderfully.)
Don't compare yourself, your life and business to others. Comparison is rarely healthy and it only makes you less comfortable with yourself, which makes you less confident about your stuff.
Ask a trusted friend or family member to tell you what they appreciate about you. Ask your clients what they like about you, your business, services and products. Don't let yourself doubt the positive feedback you receive, and don't get too obsessed with what appears to be negative feedback.
Learn not to be too preoccupied and embarrassed about mistakes and failures. Too often I see people on Twitter getting all upset about their own small typos or grammar errors. Most of the time they don't matter, and there's even a good possibility nobody else noticed them.
As long as you do something and make an effort, you will make mistakes and fail. Become comfortable with that idea.
Before trying to boost your confidence in other ways, try and get more comfortable. Getting comfortable will boost your confidence.
I'm Mervi Eskelinen
I'm an artist, nerd and creative business wizard, dedicated to help you build the business of your dreams, market your creativity, and find a meaningful way to support your lifestyle.