7 ways to increase your confidence and accomplish your goals

On some level, we all know that confidence is crucial to success. When we’re not confident in our ability to do mental math, we’re less likely to even try and more likely to grab a calculator. When we’re not confident we can do a push-up, we don’t try as hard and give up quicker.

When it comes to achieving physical activity goals, confidence in our ability to perform certain tasks and overcome obstacles that get in our way is the single biggest predictor of long-term success. If you’re confident you can, you likely will. Researchers like to call this specific type of confidence self-efficacy, and as you’ve likely experienced firsthand, it’s super important to have.

Unfortunately, trying to achieve our goals and falling off track can easily have the opposite effect. We slowly lose confidence instead of gaining more. We begin to doubt ourselves and assume any challenges we might face will be too great to overcome. At the worst of times, we give up on setting goals altogether because we don’t believe we’ll ever achieve them.

Luckily, there are proven ways to break the cycle, boost your confidence, and get back on track.  

7 Tips for Boosting Confidence

1. Start teeny tiny.

When your confidence is low, taking action is hard. It gets easier and easier to push things off until tomorrow, next week, or next month.

Break out of the habit by putting something tiny on your to-do list, one simple action you couldn’t possibly avoid doing. Go for a walk. Stretch for a couple minutes. Take a few deep breaths. Anything that will get you back on track with taking action toward your goals.

Commit to one simple thing. Then do it. Crossing it off your list will remind you that you are capable of making moves and getting things done.

2. Celebrate progress every step of the way.

Once you’ve done something small—celebrate! Too often we let little successes pass by unnoticed. We’re too hard on ourselves, we expect too much, and we forget that every step of progress is worth noticing.

Take note of how progress makes you feel: the pride, the excitement, the confidence. Every time you get better, after every run or walk or workout or yoga class, take a moment to remember that feeling of confidence you get when you set out to do something and then make it happen.

That feeling is no small thing. It’s the thing that keeps you going when challenges come up and you get thrown off track. Hold onto that feeling of confidence and never let it go.

3. Remember past successes.

A related idea is to remember times when you’ve been successful in the past. When you begin to underestimate what you’re capable of, tap into that feeling of success.

Remember times when you’ve met impossible deadlines at school or at work. Remember times when you ran farther than you thought you could or times that you doubted yourself but succeeded anyway. Think of challenges that ended up being smaller than you first imagined.

These memories are a great source of confidence. You have before and you will again. Remember that.

4. Take notice when people like you succeed.

Instead of comparing yourself to others, use their success as a source of strength. This obviously isn’t easy to do, but it’s a helpful way to think about things.

When someone like you succeeds—they run a race, take 10,000 steps a day, start lifting weights—let it serve as a reminder that you can too. Busy people do find the time. Beginners do get better.

Find someone who inspires you and who gives you confidence that you can reach your goals.

5. Get support from friends and family.

It’s easy to forget that we’re often surrounded by people who want to see us succeed. Your friends, family, co-workers, neighbours—these people believe in you even when you doubt yourself. 

So, lean on them for support. When you’re lacking confidence, ask them for help or for some encouragement. When someone tells you that you can do it, you believe them. Their words matter.

6. Help someone else.

Helping other people reach their goals can have this interesting effect where we feel more confident in our own abilities, too. When you’re not feeling confident, helping someone else might not be your first instinct, but it can be a useful way to stop focusing on your own situation, gain some perspective, and do some good at the same time.

7. Stay positive!

When we’re feeling down, obstacles seem bigger than they really are.

Staying positive can sound like a hollow tip—it’s hard to stay positive when you’ve fallen off track. But it’s important because negativity can so easily undermine your confidence. Even the most confident people doubt themselves when they’re in a bad mood and having a hard time.

So, try to focus on the good things, on your progress, on what you can control, and do little things to boost your mood, like going for a walk, listening to music, journaling or reading a book. Whatever works for you.

When you’re in a positive state of mind, you’ll be more certain that you can succeed.

A Confidence-Boosting Video

This quick video explains four proven ways to boost your confidence, overcome obstacles, and reach your goals:

Also, physical activity helps!

A final note is that the link between confidence and physical activity is a two-way street. It’s true that people who are confident are more likely to stick to their physical activity routine, but it’s also true people who are regularly physically active are more likely to be confident.

When you’re lacking confidence and struggling to move more this can be really frustrating. But it’s important to realize that you’ll feel more confident after a workout. In fact, the boost in confidence is a reason a lot of people like physical activity so much.

So, when you’re starting to doubt yourself, start small, celebrate little victories, remember past wins, get support and inspiration from others, and then get moving. The more you move, the more confident you’ll be in your ability to keep going.