Following your passions sounds incredibly exciting and enticing. “Leave behind this soul-sucking job? Yes, please!” Wouldn’t you want to spend your days and nights doing the things you are most passionate about?
As you prepare to make the leap, suddenly Steve Jobs quotes fill your social feed and Katy Perry’s song “Firework” is on your playlist 24/7; it’s great. Then you have to take that first uncomfortable step and you’re face to face with a major fear. Eventually things get uncomfortable on the passion path. You will inevitably rub up against limitations and things won’t always go exactly as expected. In these moments it is vital be able to access your confidence and be courageous.
The word confidence comes from the Latin word confidere which means to have full trust. Psychologist Albert Bandura, who devoted his life to the science of confidence, created a term related to this confidence and trust called “self-efficacy.” Self-efficacy is your belief that you will succeed and create whatever you intend to in life. Your sense of self-efficacy can play a major role in how you approach goals, tasks, and challenges. When you are confident you have a sense of self-efficacy and your actions align with that. So, then, how do you create self-efficacy?
Bandura found the following four strategies to be the building blocks of self-efficacy.
When you don’t consistently live up to your highest standards or potential and continually shrink back into safety you begin to lose trust in yourself. Mastery experiences are simply past experiences of success and these past experiences give you a sense of confidence. You can begin to cultivate mastery experiences by setting up little wins for yourself and getting incrementally better at something.
Don’t try to take on too much at once or take giant leaps forward. Mastery experiences are all about getting slightly better day by day. If you get 1 percent better at something every day, in one year you will be 365 percent better—that is the essence of creating mastery experiences!
ACTION STEP: Embrace Uncertainty and Lean into Fear (in Reasonable Doses)
Write down a list of what you need to do in order to follow your passions, then break that list down into small actionable tasks you can complete each day. It’s important to recognize that by embracing a new level of uncertainty and leaning into a healthy level of fear, you are inviting in desired change. Doing small things that feel a little scary will help you on your path to creating mastery experiences and increased self-efficacy.
This idea relies upon the fact that if someone else achieves what you want to achieve you can live through them, and you can learn by seeing what they do to achieve their goals. If someone else has done it, so can you! You have to be careful with this one because there is a tendency to compare yourself with these people as well and that will create the opposite effect of confidence—doubt. It is important that whenever you think about the person who is doing what you want to do that you celebrate their successes or find a way to serve their successes. Learning vicariously through someone you look up to is a great way to build confidence.
ACTION STEP: Find a Mentor and Make a Plan
Find a mentor or teacher who can help you confidently make a plan to follow your passions.
The concept of social persuasion takes vicarious learning one step further. This is getting verbal guidance or inspiration from someone you look up to. Hiring someone like a coach who is encouraging you to become better can be a form of social persuasion. But more than anything YOU are in your head all day long and it’s important to learn how to become your own best coach and learn to persuade yourself in positive ways. To be fully confident you must convince yourself that you have what it takes and also practice giving other people that persuasion.
ACTION STEP: Learn How to Flip Your Limiting Beliefs
Think about what you want to achieve, write down all the reasons you believe that you CAN’T achieve it, then write down the opposite of each of those beliefs to create affirmation statements—use these as fuel for your confidence! You are going to have to get very good at managing your own mindset. Life coach and entrepreneur Anthony Robbins is quoted as saying “80 percent of success is due to psychology—mindset, beliefs, and emotions—and only 20 percent is due to strategy—the specific steps needed to accomplish a result.” That is applicable here as well!
The last concept from Bandura is that your physiology plays a crucial role in your self-efficacy. In order to feel confident, it’s important that you feel good in your physical body. Generally, this comes back to the basics. Make sure each day you are eating well, getting enough sleep, and getting some form of movement. Do the things that feed a healthy body.
ACTION STEP: Practice Meditation and Yoga
Practice meditation to soothe any negativity or doubt, or take a yoga class to enliven your mind, body, and spirit. Both of these are powerful tools for a healthy physiology.
Use the strategies above that Bandura suggests to set up your own “confidence gym.” The action steps above will help you get started. Intentionally practice these four strategies day in and day out, just like you would go to the gym to get in physical shape; this is how you can get your confidence “in shape.” Start with the action steps here and then make your own unique list for each category. Today, what can you do to create your own mastery experiences, learn vicariously, be socially persuaded, or care for your physiology as you follow your unique passions?
By intentionally practicing these strategies and taking your own action steps, your challenges will begin to inspire you to grow instead of hold you back. The next time you come face to face with your fear it won’t seem so intimidating and it won’t stop you or detour you on your passion path. What will you do today to build your self-efficacy?