Recently that there seems to be an increasing culture in the world that promotes verbally and emotionally attacking people who change their mind. But changing your mind means you have learned something new. You have some new facts, data, experiences, or opinion that challenges your previous view so strongly that you are willing to change it...Read More
Most people believe the parent-child relationship is very much one of master-apprentice where the parent lays down the rules of the world for the child to learn. This is not my personal experience. With 30+ years of experience in this world I definitely have a few things I can teach my daughter but the reality is that all too often I find that she is teaching me, and often they are important life lessons.Read More
Nothing in our life occurs at a linear rate. We do not progress, or experience change of any kind, at a constant speed. Life ebbs and flows; change, improvement , and progress within our life can occur like a burst of lightning, like a sleepy snail, or anywhere in between. This applies to all facets of life whether it is learning a new technical skill, implementing an exercise routine, dieting, producing creative output, or initiating positive changes through personal development. No matter what the subject is you will never see progress occur in a constantly straight line. There will always be progress plateaus.
The progress plateau is a prolonged period of “no progress” that typically occurs directly before and after periods of dramatic progress. In areas of life that are subjected to frequent changes (i.e. pretty much everything) we experience those changes in short and sharp bursts and then spend the majority of our time experiencing the progress plateau.
This is just the natural cycle of progress. It is never linear. The common structure to progress is that we experience small periods of sudden drastic change (improvement spikes), sometimes followed by a small dip in progress directly afterwards, and then long periods where “nothing” occurs.
It is during this period, the long and boring time where we feel stagnated, that we can lose motivation. These periods can go for months, even years, and without a known end to the plateau in sight it is too easy to feel that our progress has stalled indefinitely. This is the single biggest reason why most people fail to implement changes in their life.
Whether it is a new diet, exercise, relationships, personal development, or just forming new habits, there will always be progress plateaus and unless you are ready for them they will undo all your hard work.
Tips for Maintaining Motivation through Progress Plateaus
It would be remiss of me to tell you that the progress plateau exists, like a monster lurking in the shadows waiting to attack you in your weakest moment, and then not tell you how you can beat it. Here are some tips on how to maintain motivation through the progress plateaus.
Tip 1: Accept the progress plateau exists
You’ve just got to face facts. The progress plateau is not some fanciful creature I invented just to scare you (and yes I am well aware that I just referred to it as a monster in the previous paragraph – that’s the beauty of poetic licence). You need to accept that the progress plateau exists.
Making a conscious decision to believe in the existence of progress plateaus means you will be more likely to identify them when they pop up. How many times have you heard a new phrase or learned something new and then you start seeing and hearing it everywhere? This happens often to most people because of the way our brains processes information. When we become aware of new facts our brains start being able to identify and categorise instances that align with that new piece of information. Without the specific facts the brain would just ignore the incoming data because it has no reference to compare it to. The same happens for progress plateaus.
By bringing the plateau into focus, we enable the brain to identify them more easily. We give ourselves a chance to realise that we are not “stagnating” or under-performing, but we are just experiencing a plateau before out next big advance. We can remind ourselves that the plateau is just the calm before the storm.
Tip 2: Look back at your entire progress
Having just accepted and identified that the lull in your progress is just a plateau you can start deriving more motivation to help you push on through toward the next improvement spike. A great way to get this motivation is to look back at the progress you have made throughout your entire journey.
The progress plateau has the ability to fool us into thinking that we haven’t achieved much. We can look back over the past few weeks and see no progress and feel disheartened. But if we take a holistic view, if we consider our entire progress from the very first day then we can start putting the plateau into perspective.
When looking for motivation it is helpful to consider how far you have come from the moment of initiation. Don’t let yourself be fooled by the recent progress. Only consider the overall trend.
This thinking is particularly relevant for dieting and exercise. I often hear about people starting a new healthy routine who experience positive and quick results early (e.g. losing several kilos) but then go through a flat period. During this time they only look back at the past few weeks (i.e. the plateau) and they lose motivation. They give up on their routine, go back to unhealthy habits, and write the whole thing off as a failure. If only they had looked at their entire progress instead of just a small segment.
Tip 3: Remember how good the sudden spikes feel
Another way to maintain motivation through the progress plateau is to remember just how good those sudden spikes of quick progress feel. Remind yourself of the happiness you felt during the last improvement spike - the positive energy, the motivation, and the smile that you couldn’t wipe off your face. Remind yourself how good it actually feels.
Now remind yourself that directly after a progress plateau comes another spike of improvement. Even though you cannot see it coming, if you stay on your course and maintain your efforts you can be sure that another spike is waiting just over the horizon. But if you give up during the plateau you never reach the next spike. You never feel those “highs” again.
Tip 4: Other people are on different progress cycles
This a reminder to only ever consider your own progress. Everyone else is operating within their own progress cycle and to weigh yourself up against someone else’s progress is a useless waste of time.
If you see someone else going through a massive improvement spike, that does not detract from your life or your opportunity for change. Be happy for them, celebrate with them, and remind yourself that your next spike is coming soon. Their progress cycle has nothing to do with yours.
Likewise, how far along they have progressed is irrelevant to you. They may have initiated their changes years ago, or they may just have come off the back of a significant improvement spike. Neither reason matters nor has anything to do with you, your progress, and your plateaus. Only look at your own progress and how far you have travelled since you started. That’s all that matters.
How do you maintain motivation through the progress plateau?
You can feel you heart beating faster, your palms sweating, and your breath shortening. No, you're not having a heart attack - you're just worrying. A drastic and life changing event has occurred and all you can do is replay it over and over in your head, each time falling into a deeper state of anxiety. You try to snap yourself out of it and think toward the future, but now your mind starts visualising countless versions of the future that have been negatively influenced by this one event. You're not worrying anymore - you're panicking. Your mind is jumping so quickly between replaying the event (somehow it seems worse each time) and fearing the future (which also somehow looks worse each time) that you're out of control. You literally have no control. You wander aimlessly, you miss your train stop, you bump into a stranger causing him to spill his coffee on you, and you step right into a puddle that you hope is just water. You're so focused on other things, on the other tenses in your life, that you do not pay attention to the present tense. You miss out on living because you are too worried about something else.
Apart from being annoyingly written in the second person did that story conjure up any emotions in you? Does it sound familiar? Perhaps a little too familiar? If so then you need to change how you view the past, future, and present tense in your life. The attitude of being attached to, and driven by, the past and the future is very detrimental. It causes stress, anxiety, and worry. In fact, this style of thinking is the cause of every negative emotion in your life.
Even if the above example was foreign to you, the chances are that you are still too focused on the past and the future, and not enough on living life to the fullest in the present.
The Past is for Learning, not Worrying
The biggest mistake people make when referring to the past is that they do so from a position of negativity - worrying and stressing over actions and events that cannot be changed. No matter what your past holds the simple fact is that you cannot do anything about it. You cannot edit out the bits you do not like or add in something new that you wish you had done, just like you cannot go back and change the historical events that have shaped humankind.
Revisiting the past over and over again is a form of masochism. It is basic self torture and it provides absolutely no benefit to your life.
When we look toward the past we see it through the lens of our current situation. We see it and judge it based on our current level of knowledge which is not fair to the past. The past occurred in a different time, a time when we thought differently, had less experiences, and had less knowledge. To take a major decision from our past and hold it up for analysis against our current thinking is saying that every time we make a decision we should first look into the future and see what the outcome will be of that decision and how we will judge it in the future beyond that.
I think it's safe for me to assume that no-one reading this article has the ability to look into the future. I'm happy to be proved wrong though. :)
So when looking at the past, we need a paradigm shift. We need to view it differently. The past is not meant to be judged, ridiculed, or regretted. It is not meant to be dwelt on, replaying events over in our mind and drudging up associated negative emotions. The past is simply not meant for worrying - it is meant for learning.
The past is only useful when we can learn something from it.
We can look back at past events - the electric car, the moon landing, or the time you cut your hair into a Mohawk and dyed it green - and we can learn from them. Maybe these were great ideas, or maybe not. Either way, we cannot change them but we can learn from them. The next time someone dares you to get a crazy haircut you can weigh it up using the lessons learned from your past experiences. That is what the past is for.
If you got up every day regretting that silly green Mohawk then you are not learning from it – you are torturing yourself for no reason. Once you have learned the lesson then there is no other benefit that looking to the past can provide and it is time to move on.
The green Mohawk is an obviously silly example but I did it that way to illustrate a point: we cannot change anything in our past, no matter how small and inconsequential, like a silly haircut. But we also cannot change it no matter how large and life-altering the event was. All we can do is learn from it and use that knowledge to grow and shape our lives for the future.
The Future is for Planning, not Worrying
Onto the next biggest focal point for worry and stress in our lives - the future.
The future, by its very nature, is unknown. It is the future. It is magical, it is forever changing, and it is uncontrollable. No matter how much you think (and worry) about the future the simple fact of the matter is that you cannot control it and it will probably not turn out the way you think. In fact, I guarantee that it wont. And the bigger the future event that you are worrying about is, and the longer into the future that it is, the less likely that it will turn out even remotely like you expected.
The future we worry about is just a state of imagination that exists in our mind. The real future is just the result of all the individual actions that occur from now up until that moment, at which point it stops being the future and becomes the present for one brief second until it passes and then it is just another part of our past.
We cannot predict what happens tomorrow, next week, or next month. Worrying about these future tenses of our life is pointless because it is guaranteed that things will change between now and then. If you were asked "where you will be and what will you be doing in 5 years?" do you really think that you would get it 100% correct? Do you really think that in 5 years time everything would have occurred exactly as you intended?
The future is not for worrying, but for planning. And only loose planning at that.
Your life will never happen as you plan it and that is great news because what a boring life that would be. A life where everything happens exactly as planned is an unhappy life. The reason for this is that you NEVER have the knowledge, skills, or experience to plan exactly what you want for the rest of your life. What you think you will want in 10, 20, or 30 years will be very different to what you actually want when you get there.
Planning for the future is just a means of preparation. A plan is not an exact execution but rather simple preparedness for a predefined list of possibilities.
Setting goals is the best method of planning for the future. Our goals are used as guiding principles in our lives and they shape our actions. By considering all the options and setting our goals we define the direction in which we want to travel, and we can use this knowledge to guide all of our decisions and actions in the present.
The Present is for Living, not Worrying
The present tense - the moment in which we have the most control, the moment in which we can define our life, and the moment that we waste worrying about every other part of our life.
Worrying is wasteful, especially when done in the present. Each moment you spend worrying and stressing in the present is preventing you from living your life. You miss out on actually experiencing and enjoying life, and instead spend it filled with negative emotions.
In the present you still only have control over your own actions, thoughts and decisions. Everything else is outside your control and is superfluous to you living a happy and enjoyable life. If you cannot change it then why worry about it? Instead of taking a negative viewpoint and worrying about the present, focus your mind on what is in your control. Focus on living.
Living means being in the moment, paying close attention to what is happening all around you but more importantly what is happening inside you. Listen to that internal voice that tells you what to do, acknowledge your feelings and what causes them, and observe how you respond to all external stimuli.
Doing this brings your mind into the present. It focuses your attention on what is occurring around you right now and how it affects you. Being cognisant of this creates an amazing sense of self awareness and control in your life. It allows you to dictate the terms that shape your life and experience a truly happy and fulfilled life.
By creating this positive energy and laser-like focus on the present you can achieve much more in your life. You can make conscious decisions that use your past experiences and future plans as motivators, but always stay focused on the present moment. This is one of the key secrets to being happy in life.
How do you view the past, future, and present?
He has the energy of 20 year old and the looks of a 40 year old, but is actually 60. Everywhere he goes people are won over with his down-to-earth charm, no-fuss style, and the sheer exuberance with which he tackles life. Everyone likes him. No, everyone loves him. In his earlier years he surfed and rode motocross bikes for a living before transitioning into a business career where he quickly established himself as a leader – running his own software company and eventually becoming CIO for a local mining company.
His personal life has the same successful theme - happily married for nearly 30 years with two adult children who, from all accounts, are top of their class both mentally and physically.
It’s fair to say that this man has had a very successful life. It's a life that many people dream of, and strive for, and he has a pretty simple motto which has underpinned everything he has ever done:
"Attitude is everything."
Attitude is Everything
This form of thinking says that our attitude is a critical component of our lives – our attitude dictates and controls our lives, influencing how we see and interact with the surrounding world.
When we have a good attitude, our lives are filled with happiness. Good things happen to good people, and great things happen to good people with great attitudes. Similarly, bad attitudes attract bad outcomes. Negative thoughts manifest themselves as negative actions which cause negative results. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
By making a conscious decision about our everyday attitude we can define the happiness in our lives. We can define the quality of the life we live just by choosing to have a better attitude. Happiness occurs by choice not by accident.
Attitude for Friends
Friends are an important part of our lives. They listen to us, support us, and encourage us. At least that’s what they should do.
The quality of friends we have in our lives is a direct result of our attitude. That is, we attract certain types of people to be friends with based on our attitude. If we have a positive attitude then we attract positive friends. Likewise, a negative attitude attracts negative friends.
For example, previously in my life when I had a negative outlook and a low self esteem, I found it very hard to connect with people and establish good friendships. Fast forward a few years, and armed with my extremely happy and positive attitude toward life, I now have an amazingly close group of fantastic friends. They are all great people with wonderful attitudes and I love spending time with them.
In friendship, attitude is everything.
Attitude for Love
Just like finding friends, finding love is heavily influenced by our attitude. A positive attitude will foster relationships built on happiness, fun, passion, and love but a negative attitude will create relationships filled with mistrust, anger, resentment, jealousy, and depression. Or no relationships at all.
Before I met Sophie I had endured some bad relationships. I had been cheated on, manipulated, and taken for granted. Don't get me wrong, these relationships also had some great times but overall I'd say my experiences in the world of love were quite negative. But then I changed my attitude. I decided to love myself instead of hating myself for these relationships and my whole world shifted. I started believing that I deserved a great relationship with a beautiful, intelligent, and funny woman and...well it's pretty obvious how that turned out. ;)
In love, attitude is everything.
Attitude for Work
If ever there was a place in our lives that needs an attitude boost it is at our work. Most people I've met do not enjoy their job. They are not following their passion but merely working a boring job just to pay the bills and get by in life. Instead of turning up to work with a smile and a positive attitude, these people turn up armed with a sarcastic tone, angry scowl, and a negative attitude.
The result is that work becomes a festering hole of negativity. Just thinking of the building itself conjures up strong feelings of hate and despair, and don't even start on the people you have to work with...this is definitely the wrong attitude for work.
Early in my working life I was in one of these jobs and I hated it! The work was boring (and massively under utilising me), the people were mostly incompetent and negative, and I had a daily struggle to hold back my urge to slap people around me. But then I changed my attitude. I accepted that the job was a shitty one but instead of hating it I focused on the skills I had gained, looking toward the future and what sort of work I wanted to do. I set some goals, crafted my CV, and got myself out of there. Now, less than two years later I've doubled my salary, tripled my experience, met some wonderful people, and have a pretty good job that I enjoy (and actually working for the guy from the intro).
In work, attitude is everything.
I could go on but the point has been made. In life, attitude really is everything. It shapes who we are, who we meet, and what we do in our lives. It can hold you back and prevent you from being successful or it can give you wings and open up your life to endless possibilities. The choice is yours.
There is one little word that is in such common use across english speaking countries that people seem to have forgotten the power it has over us. This word drips with negativity. It restricts us, suffocates us, and holds us back from achieving our goals. It is one of the worst words you can use in your life. I'm talking about the dreaded c-word. The word is "can't" (or cannot) and it is a disgusting word to use, especially in relation to yourself.
The Negative "Can't" (The positive can!)
The number one reason that using the dreaded c-word is bad for you is what it does to your brain. It shuts it off from even trying to help you.
If you say that you cannot do something then your brain will just agree with you and switch off. The brain is very powerful but ultimately flawed - if it thinks something has already been proven then it wont waste any effort on it and will move on, leaving you to feel assured that you really cannot do whatever you are talking about.
If an opportunity did present itself where you could possibly do whatever it is you've said you cannot, then guess what the brain does? It ignores it, or even worse it creates powerful negative emotions such as fear, anger, and stress to prevent you from even trying.
After all, the brain knows (because you told it) that you can't do it so it's in your best interest for it to prevent you from making a fool of yourself, right?
Sadly, this means that you miss out on all those awesome chances to do something new. You miss out on doing, and achieving, wonderful things simply because you (and your brain) gave up before you even started.
Solution: Replace "I can't..." with "How can I..."
The solution is simple. Get rid of "can't" from your vocabulary. Every time you catch yourself using this word stop and start the sentence again, this time replacing "I'can't..." with "How can I..." to turn it from a negatively limiting statement into a positively stimulating question.
- "I can't afford to buy a new TV" becomes "How can I afford to buy a new TV?"
- "I can't get a girl/guy to like me" becomes "How can I get a girl/guy to like me?"
- "I can't become supreme ruler of the universe" becomes "How can I become supreme ruler of the universe?"
I think you get the idea. Just reading those examples your brain should have "clicked" into gear and started thinking about the options. Ok, so maybe being supreme ruler of the universe isn't for everyone but I bet your brain started actually thinking about it before you could stop yourself.
That's the beauty of this simple trick. By asking your brain to focus on providing answers for how you can rather than providing examples of why you can't you will find yourself opening up to ideas and solutions that would have otherwise been automatically discarded.
Try it yourself. Next time you use the dreaded c-word stop and reframe that negative statement into a positive question. You might be surprised at the answers you get.
Over the past few years, and particularly the last 6 months, I have been doing a fair bit of in-depth thinking about psychology. I've experienced a lot of personal development (or "spiritual growth") and I've discovered many things about myself that I wasn't previously aware of. Good news so far, but it got me wondering as to whether I have changed as result of this introspection or whether I have essentially stayed the same person but am just more aware of what that actually means.
I decided to revisit the Myers-Briggs Personality Test to answer this question.
I have previously done the Myers-Briggs Personality Test twice in my life. It is a very interesting test but I distinctly remember having troubles picking one or other in certain circumstances.
In the first test I ended being almost borderline for the 4 categories. Basically I sat on the fence.
In the second test I had just begun down the self development path so I was becoming more self aware (I sound like a robot from a sci-fi movie) and thus could answer the questions better. I still had some troubles and still ended up borderline on a few aspects but the overall result was ENTP, and everyone seemed to agree it sounded like me.
It's been three years (or more) and I've spent a lot of that time in deep analysis of myself. I feel like a very different person but has my personality changed? Or do I just "get" myself more?
Drumroll please….my current personality type is: ENTP!
So on the surface it looks as if I haven't changed and I guess in terms of the overall picture that is true. I am still an ENTP but I am much happier with that classification now. I think I have strengthened myself in those areas in which I used to be borderline - this time I found it much easier to answer the questions and pick which type summed me up - so if anything I've just become a more definite ENTP.
For those interested in finding their own personality type, or those who are wondering what the hell these letters mean, then check out this pretty handy chart.
Remember kids, its not an exact science, but it is very interesting.
So what is your personality type?
Today I have a cold. I am sitting here in front of the computer feeling sick, wallowing in self pity, and watching the pile of used snotty tissues steadily building around me. Gross huh? But this little cold has also reminded me that sometimes it is too easy for us to get caught up in feeling sorry for ourselves and being negative. It is too easy to play the life isn't fair card and sook in the corner about what is going on.
Just because it's easy to do doesn't make it right to do it though.
I could sit here feeling sorry for myself and my runny nose. I could mope about and pretend as if somehow this cold is a sign of the world "picking on me" and I could whinge about it to everyone I see, telling them of how things just go against me.
Or I could take a lesson from How I met Your Mother character Barney Stinson:
Whenever I start feeling sick, I just stop being sick and be awesome instead.
That is the perfect example of how to use a positive attitude to turn a bad situation around. Being sick already sucks so why make it worse by being a negative nancy? It's a terrible waste of time and effort. Try being happy and positive instead. Try being awesome, even if you have to pretend at first.
This is exactly what Barney does in that same episode when asked if he is sick:
I'm fine. My nose is just overflowing with awesome and I had to get some of it out.
I love it!
That is the exact opposite of what most people do when they are sick. Everyone likes to complain and feel sorry for themselves when they are sick but what does that really achieve? Is being a pain-in-the-arse, negative, so-and-so achieving anything other than annoying everyone else around you?
Positivity Breeds Positivity
This doesn't just apply to being sick either - it applies to EVERYTHING in our lives.
Ever noticed when you start having a "bad day" that things just seem to get worse? You might sleep through your alarm and miss your train, so you rush to work but then you realise you've got the wrong pants on and you left your wallet at home which makes you angry, and then while you're trying to think of an excuse to avoid that annoying meeting you've got later on you stub your toe outside and spill your coffee all over yourself. It makes you feel like screaming about how bad your day is.
I've got some bad news for you. You created that bad day. It is entirely your fault that you had such a bad day.
Many people will disagree and try to lay the blame somewhere else, but the reality is that any emotional judgment of your day is 100% in your control. You control how you see and interpret the world. If you train your brain to only see a set of negative experiences than that is exactly what you will see. You will only notice the bad stuff while all the good stuff just flies by unnoticed.
The flip side is that if you choose to start with a positive attitude, and start being awesome, then you will start having more of the good days. Those days where everything just feels right. Those days where you are happy, excited, and energetic. Those days where you cannot help but smile when something bad happens because everything else is just so damn good!
Eventually those bad things just wont happen as often. Your positive attitude will draw in more positive actions. You will attract people, situations, and events that mirror your attitude. Your life will be filled with so much positivity that those "bad" things will just be minuscule blemishes on an otherwise wonderful life.
You control your attitude. You determine whether you see things as good or bad, happy or sad, positive or negative. You have the power to make your life better by simply changing your attitude.
Start being awesome. Image: photostock
Developing self confidence is the cornerstone of positive personal development but it can often be the most confusing aspect. How do you build self confidence when if you are traveling down the personal development path then you are obviously not 100% happy with yourself? I believe that most people who are actively seeking personal development are not necessarily trying to change themselves per se, but they are trying rediscover their natural personality state. They are trying to find the version of themselves that is the most congruent with what they feel inside. This is actually a very hard thing to achieve because there is so much bullshit and bluster generated in our society that confuses the issue and this is why learning to build your own self confidence is so important.
Which is why I was excited by the fact that my recent article on using affirmations to build self confidence struck a chord with some readers and has already generated some good comments. It is great to see other people who recognise the significance of being able to build a positive self image. With that in mind I thought I would continue this trend and talk about another trick I use to main my elevated self confidence: daily comfort challenges.
Daily Comfort Challenges
The concept of the daily comfort challenge is to set yourself a personal challenge every day that pushes you outside your comfort zone. It should force you to confront your simple social fears, which are often unfounded, and do things you would never normally consider. The confidence you generate from pushing yourself like this is amazing.
I used to have a massive fear of failure when it came to talking to women, which of course manifested itself throughout my life, and I ended up afraid to talk to most women. Not exactly an ideal state for a 23 year old heterosexual man to be in. So when I started setting myself these daily comfort challenges I began small - I just had to say "Hi" to one random woman every day.
It sounds simple, and to be honest it was, but it gave me exactly what I needed. It forced me to confront my stupid fear and realise that talking to strangers was not hard. Nor scary. It was actually a whole lot fun. I ended up meeting some great people, having some fantastic conversations, and building up my confidence.
Enough rambling from me. Here are my top three comfort challenges that you can use to build your self confidence...
Comfort Challenge One: Talk to 5 Complete Strangers
Try starting conversations with several complete strangers every day. This is a great way to build confidence and hone your communication skills and the beauty is that it doesn't matter what you say because you will probably never see them again in your life.
Tips for talking to strangers:
- Start with people who get paid to be friendly (e.g. waiters, charity beggars etc)
- Talk to people forced into close quarter (e.g. elevators, trains, checkout lines)
- Keep it simple - you don't need to discuss the meaning of life with them, just say "hi"
Try it and see what kind of conversations you can generate. You never know, you may meet some very interesting people.
Comfort Challenge Two: Perform a Street Stunt
The street stunt is anything that is completely out of the ordinary and will cause most people to think you are crazy. Don't worry, it's really them that are crazy. ;)
Performing a street stunt takes little effort but it throws all current societal expectations out the window. Here are some good examples you can start with but don't be afraid to create your own:
- Dressing strangely (undies on the outside is always good)
- Lying down in the middle of the footpath
- Walking on your hands (I wish I could do this one)
The key to a good street stunt is to never acknowledge that anything strange occurred. When you are finished just go about your business as if nothing happened. If people comment or ask you about it just fob them off with a silly excuse like "Oh that? My doctor says I need to walk on my hands every hour to take the pressure off my feet".
Comfort Challenge Three: Get a Phone Number
This is taking the talking to strangers challenge to another level, and is also great for anyone struggling to connect with people of the opposite sex.
The challenge is simple - just get a phone number from someone you don't know. You don't have to like them, or actually want to call them, but you must find a stranger and get past the initial small talk stage to finish with their phone number. The phone number doesn't even have to be real, just get some numbers.
I only have one tip for getting a phone number - ask for it. Most people aren't expecting you to ask for their number and if you've had a small conversation beforehand you might be pleasantly surprised at just how willing they are to give out their digits. Or at least get rid of you by giving you a fake number.
If you still want a suggestion try something like this - "Hey I saw walking by and thought you looked amazing and I just had to come say hi…I've got something important I've got to get to right now but I'd love to catch up for a chat sometime...What's the best number to call you on?" Smooth right?
Confidence is the goal, nothing else matters
For all of the above challenges the specific actions taken and actual results are not what matters. The goal is to build your self confidence. It doesn't matter if you strike out 20 times on getting a phone number because the experience you get from it (and the realisation that only your own opinion of yourself matters) is worth much more than a single phone number will ever be.
There is no limit to what you can try with these personal challenges, but be sure to keep it all legal. I don't want to get a sudden influx of "I decided to run naked down the street and I got arrested" hate messages. Unless photos are included.
Get creative and set yourself some personal challenges that are fun but push your boundaries at the same time. Take a look at your life and figure out where you lack the most confidence and challenge yourself to get outside your comfort zone. You will be amazed at the impact it will have on your self confidence.
"How did you build self confidence?" This question was asked of me recently when I was recounting my journey from a shy, quiet, and socially awkward boy to an outgoing, fun-loving, and confident man. It occurred to me that while I had figured out how to nurture my own self-confidence, others are struggling with theirs every day. I don't like this at all.
Everyone deserves to be self-confident and happy with themselves. You live with your perception of yourself 24/7 and it pervades every aspect of your life. If you are unhappy with yourself then it will manifest across your life - jobs that you hate, relationships that are no good for you, and friends that aren't very good friends.
The perception you choose for yourself, good or bad, is how you showcase yourself to the world. If you choose to showcase yourself as a loser then that is how the world will see you. How can you expect the world to treat you better than how you treat yourself?
With that in mind I decided to share my tricks for building self-confidence and becoming the person that you've always wanted to be. The first technique I recommend for building self confidence is to use positive affirmations.
These are the stock weapon for most players in the self-help, personal development, and motivational industries, and they are so prevalent for a reason - they work.
Most people like to use affirmations as a tool to remind themselves of the good and positive things in their life. While this certainly is a big part of affirmations it fails to address the need to foster the traits that you might not currently possess but wish to in the future.
Affirmations are about both of these - reminding yourself of your existing positive traits but also encouraging personal growth towards developing new behaviours.
Some quick tips for writing your own affirmations
- Target all aspects of yourself - physical, personality, relationships, leadership etc.
- They must be uplifting - you must finish reading them with a big smile on your face.
- Be ultra-positive, even if you don't 100% believe it at the time.
- No negative words, even if they are double negatives (e.g. "I am beautiful" is much better than "I am not ugly")
- Repeat them to yourself in the mirror - tell yourself how great you are.
- Read them to yourself every single day (preferably twice a day)
Unsure where to begin? Just pretend that you are a crazy groupie (your number-one fan) who is so ridiculously in love with you that they think that everything you do is awesome. Then start writing all the good things down with that completely biased point of view. The positive should start to flow soon enough.
Example affirmations from my past
But I cannot expect you to actually do this if I don't lead the way can I? So I dug through my old notebooks to find some of the early affirmations I wrote. Here are some samples:
- I am a sexy, smart, and funny man.
- I give myself permission to be the person I want to be.
- I am cool, calm, and confident. I am always in control.
- I am so talented that I can do ANYTHING I want to.
- I deserve great relationships and fantastic friends.
- My life is great!
Got the picture? Interestingly I read through those affirmations of mine and I realise two things - firstly; they are all second nature to me now which is great, but the biggest thing I notice is how my life has taken some new directions based on them. For example, as I began to develop my self-confidence and believe my own affirmations I met Sophie, a fantastic and wonderful woman who I fell in love with. I have no doubt that our relationship would not have been so successful had I not turned my self esteem around with affirmations.
Affirmations work so why not give it a go? Maybe you'll meet someone special too. ;)