A couple weeks ago, I put up a blog post about a book I had recently read. In that entry I stated the following: “When our daily habits and energy are focused on action in the present time it leads to success, which builds confidence. Confidence is a fear killer.” A couple of readers responded, asking about what I meant by ” daily habits.”
What you are about to read are habits that I have developed that help me to build confidence in myself. I do not presume to be an expert on how best to manage your life. Nor is this intended to be a brag post detailing how amazing I am at life management. Furthermore, I don’t purport to be some life management guru a la Stephen Covey. Instead, this is simply a list of habits that I have incorporated into my life that have helped me build confidence in myself. Take what you want from this and discard the rest.
Confidence is not arrogance. Many people confuse the two. Arrogance is an attitude that says, “I am good and you are inferior.” Confidence is the ability to say – and truly believe – that, “I am good.” Confidence kills fear and its offspring, anxiety, depression and hopelessness because one believes deeply in his or her ability to confront and manage the difficulties and challenges of life.
Much of what drives my habits are things I have learned over the course of my life. I haven’t always done these things. But, as I have read, studied and experimented I have found habits that have helped me to find success in my career, personal pursuits and my family life. I am not perfect in these habits, though generally I do them consistently. I have picked up many things from many sources, including books and conversations with others.
Habits lead to confidence because they allow us to have daily victories. We become depressed and hopeless when we do not feel we have control over our lives. Good daily habits teach us that we can control our lives and once we see ourselves have victories each and every day, the confidence builds, self-belief grows and you banish negative feelings and thoughts that inhibit growth.
- Wake Up Early and Let the Light In
My alarm goes off at 5:30am and I hit the snooze a couple of times, but I’m usually up by 6:00. The first thing that I do is to pull out the scriptures and study the word of God. The light I am referring to is not the sun, but the light of knowledge and truth. If you’re not a Christian or much of a religious person, then study something else that adds value and brings light into your soul. There are many sources of truth and light. For me, it is so crucial to kick off the day in this manner because it sets the tone for the rest of the day. It is also one of the most positive things I can do all day.
Following scripture study, I take time to think and ponder about what I have read, to be still and pray. I like the mornings because it is so quiet and peaceful and lends itself to deep thinking and prayer. Its a great time for inspiration. Sometimes I fall asleep in the middle of a good meditation session because it is so relaxing, but most of the time it allows me to begin the day on a positive, calm note. It is important to have time each day to pray and think and search for inspiration.
3. Daily Plan
Every morning before beginning my work I take a look at the day ahead. It is at this time that I determine what are the priorities for the day. I have found that I can only really accomplish 3-5 major tasks each day. Trying to plan for more than that is setting yourself up for failure. Be honest about what you can truly accomplish. I feel good about myself when I can tick off a list and when I put too much on my plate, it just makes for stress. I think of my day in terms of my roles, in other words as an employee, husband/father and home owner, etc.. I have a list of to-do items for today, this week and this month and I keep the list to one page. I print it out and use it through the day to jot down notes and such. I have tried doing it electronically, but I have always preferred good old fashioned paper.
I don’t get caught up too much in planning for the future, especially setting long term goals. Short term goals are much easier to achieve and you have much greater control over the immediate future than over what happens six months from now. I prefer to have an “end in mind”, rather than a fixed goal. Perhaps they are one and the same, but I try not to set fixed goals that are too specific way out in the future. It just causes anxiety and stress, especially when you can’t control the future.
4. Daily Learn
I take time each day to learn something new. At the present time I am trying to hone my Portuguese skills, so on some days I take 30 mins to practice that language. Somedays I will research a particular topic or read from a magazine or trade publication. The point is, that I feel the need to make sure I am filling my mind with knowledge and challenging myself to do something new. Blogging is one of those items because I often have to do a lot of learning before posting. Hobbies can also fit in here. When you learn, you open your mind to new worlds and possibilities and confidence is the result because you are not limited by ignorance. Knowledge opens the door of opportunity.
5. Daily Read
I take time each day to read. I’m always reading something. My biggest problem sometimes is that I will have 3-4 different books started at one time. I focus on biographies, history or self-improvement type books. I love to read about famous and successful people in history because I always learn something about what made them successful that helps me in my life. However, sometimes a good fiction book, like a good movie, can help to relax and detox. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of reading. If you’re not reading, you’re not learning, in my humble opinion.
6. Daily Exercise
Balance is key in life and you can’t just exercise the brain. Exercising the body is critically important. This statement is backed up by a host of great research. But, notwithstanding the research, I personally can vouch for the importance of exercise. I choose to exercise in the late afternoon. I tried doing it in the morning, but it requires that I get up even earlier and hey, I’m weak and a 4:30 am wake up call is just asking too much.
Exercise for me is like a microcosm of life. Sometimes it hurts while you’re doing it and you have to push the mind to disregard the body, which is screaming at you to give up. Then, when you complete a rigorous workout, you have the personal satisfaction of knowing you overcame the body and its pain and then once the endorphins kick in you feel like a million bucks. I like the way I feel after a good workout and I notice that I sleep much better at night, too.
Exercise builds endurance. When you can endure the pain of a workout, you begin to build a toolbox that gives you the instruments to endure the mental and physcological challenges that life can bring. Exercise gives you the confidence to believe in your ability to endure the pain and overcome the negative messages that the mind sometimes gives you.
7. Daily Review
To me, this is one of the most important habits that can build confidence. I struggle the most with this, but mostly because I’m often lazy and I am too tired at the end of the day to want to do it. However, keeping a journal is a healthy habit. I try to keep a daily journal, making an entry at the close of each day. This entry should not simply be a recap of the day’s events or a passive account of the weather, but it should serve as a time of reflection about what went well and what you can improve. This should be a positive time where you note your victories, not a beat-yourself-up session. Along with your victories, you should note the areas where improvement can be made and how you plan to improve. When you do this, you begin to see how much you truly accomplished and how much good you are cable of and then your confidence grows. Journal writing teaches you to be accountable to yourself for how you spent your time.
To be most effective in this habit, you should ponder the days events with questions like, “how has someone blessed my life today?, or “how has God’s hand been in my life today.” When we stop and count our blessings and consider our efforts, we can see the good things stacking up and it gives us hope.
8. Remind Yourself of Who You Really Are
Throughout the day it is important to remind yourself of who you are. Maybe this seems like an odd concept to you, but I feel that if we have an understanding of who we really are, we will rise to that standard. For example, when I think if who I am, I think of the fact that I am a son of God, a husband to a great wife and a father to wonderful kids, etc. This standard reminds me that I have something to live for and something to live up to and my decision making is therefore in line with that standard.
Anyway, these are my daily habits that I employ to help me deal with this crazy journey we call life. I find that these steps provide me with the tools to be happy with who I am striving to become. As a result, I can be confident in myself because these habits lead to little victories each day. Day after day, they add up and you start to believe that you can accomplish anything and manage life’s challenges.
I would love to hear about the habits that work for you. Please feel free to share.