When was the last time you felt like you weren’t where you thought you’d be in life?
Maybe, the ideal life you envisioned isn’t coming to fruition, or perhaps, life’s curveballs have set you down an unexpected path. Whatever it is, these thoughts of self-doubt can cause the sparkle in your bright eyes to fade, and it can make you lose sight of the good in yourself.
The biggest challenge in dealing with self-doubt and a loss of confidence is mustering up the strength and courage to turn back into your proud, stunning self. This was something I, too, struggled with for years.
But after having conversations with wiser, more experienced folks and learning more about myself, I’ve realized the key to becoming the best version of ourselves begins with learning who we are, and then taking the right steps to get there.
Know your values and how you interpret them.
Your values are your “why,” and they stem from the combination of your upbringing, social groups, education, media and societal norms or standards. They are the foundation of your beliefs; they empower the thoughts you have and the actions you take.
By understanding them, you can easily define who you are and grow your self-confidence. Values don't change often, but they can evolve over time, as you continue to learn more about the world and meet people from different walks of life.
I never understood the importance of defining values until I was 21 years old. Up until that point, I dated quite a bit, and a lot of these people were the worst. Every once in a while, I’d land a decent human being, but collectively, my dating pool had no pattern or unifying theme.
Without understanding my core beliefs, it was easy to just be with someone and have little to no explanation as to why things didn't work out. I was often left feeling I wasn't good enough, when, in fact, our values simply weren't compatible (and some of these people were just awful).
Whether it’s religion, money, integrity, social responsibility, love, family or innovation, knowing your values can help you better understand why you love what you love, why you get along with certain people and not others, and what will make you happy.
As a result, you'll be able to identify the people and things that don't align with your values, and then you can decide if you want them in your life.
You will also want to recognize how you interpret your values. Someone who values money might focus on luxury and the finer things in life, while someone else who shares that value may want to use money philanthropically.
When you can define and articulate your values, you know what you’re willing to compromise and what your deal-breakers are in your friendships, relationships and careers.
Understand yourself and what you want your purpose to be.
Knowing the real you is as important as understanding your values. It means being honest when identifying what you love about yourself, and what you want to work on. It also helps you to understand how the people who matter most to you perceive who you are and your potential.
It's just as important to determine your purpose. Every individual has a purpose, but the best part is you have a say in what you want your purpose and impact to be. Your purpose stays with you through the long- and short-term. It’s what you want your existence to mean to the people around you, or to the entire world.
When times get tough, it’s easy to forget your purpose or to feel meaningless altogether. Believe me, I’ve been there. And being the stubborn person I am, I know how simple it is to convince yourself there’s nothing out there for you.
The truth is you are worth much more than you think, and you are capable of doing what you want. There may be hundreds of obstacles in your way, but they are microscopic in comparison to the hurdle you place in front of yourself.
Again, your purpose is what you want it to be, and whatever it is, you can achieve it.
Elevate your attitude and perspective.
A couple of years ago, I was turned down from a career opportunity and the rejection affected me more than I’m willing to admit. I shed more tears for this job than some of my harshest breakups.
My dad sat down with me as I wiped my tears, and in his broken English, he told me, “This isn’t the first time you’ve been rejected, and it won’t be your last.”
“You won’t always get what you want,” he continued, “And not everyone in the world will like you. This is truth, and it’s just a part of life.”
Oh, the wise and realistic words of a father. The words stung, but he offered hope.
“Even though you can’t change this, there are other things you can change to make it better. You can change your attitude and how you react to it. Do you want to be sad for the rest of your life because of things you can’t change, or do you want to change your perspective and move on?”
I wouldn’t be honest if I said my attitude magically turned a new leaf because of this conversation. It’s taken a lot of time and effort, but it’s made me happier.
You know that saying, “Fake it until you make it”? Well, American Social Psychologist Amy Cudder says, “Fake it until you become it.” So far, it’s worked for me, and it can work for you, too.
Define and redefine your idea of success.
Similar to your values and mission in life, the idea of success varies from person to person, and it sits on a foundation of your values. The funny thing about success is that your vision of it can, and will, change.
It’s easy to be hung up on a goal or success you set for yourself years ago, but as you experience what’s out there, you’ll find that your friends will change; the world around you will change, and you will change.
Life will force you to adapt, so there’s nothing wrong with making modifications to your vision of success.
When I was in college, success meant being as far away from home as possible, owning my own condo by age 28 and being a kickass marketing manager at a huge tech company.
Today, success means scheduling and spending quality time with my family and friends, saving X amount for my dream condo each month, being a kickass marketing manager at a startup and having a positive impact on my community.
Life has taught me that getting what I want takes time, and it's okay if my vision of success evolves.
Take action, and keep going.
To step out of the self-doubt rut and onto the path to your best self, you need to do just that: Take the first step. Then, take another and another, until you find yourself running to your destination.
When you know your values and how you interpret them, write them down and communicate them. If there’s something or someone who is toxic to your values, find ways to slowly remove yourself from such poisons. They will only bring you down.
Remind yourself every single day what it is you love about yourself, and make it a point to place yourself in situations where that part of you shines.
When you’re thinking about qualities you might not be too fond of, accept those qualities and know we all have quirks and bad habits. The good news is you can always work on them if you want.
Rebuilding your confidence and understanding yourself are not easy tasks because they require discipline and time.
Going from a lack of confidence to a healthy amount is a process that requires change, a principle that is not always easy to implement and to accept. This is why we fear it so much.
But if it's something you want badly enough, taking the steps to self-awareness will help you achieve the best version of yourself. And if that isn't enough, remember that the greatest things are always worth fighting for.
So, why not begin by fighting for the person who matters most? You.