How to Build Self-Confidence (A Step-by-Step Guide)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 19 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Self-confidence is an attitude about personal skills, judgement and qualities. People with healthy self-confidence, also called self-esteem, accept themselves and trust their capabilities. Anyone can reap the benefits of building self-confidence with proven strategies. In this article, we explain how to build self-confidence and describe why cultivating this quality is important.

How to build self-confidence

Some people are born with good self-confidence, while others learn how to build self-confidence over time. These people learn to develop confidence and practise the steps to improve their self-esteem. You may notice you have less self-confidence when you advance to new roles, try new tasks or face setbacks. Repeating these steps in these situations can help you rebuild your self-esteem. Here are common steps for building self-confidence:

1. Speak positively to yourself

Having self-confidence starts with the messages you tell yourself. Try to speak positively to yourself with your inner voice. You could praise your skills or your behaviour, for example. Think what you would like to hear from a best friend. If your inner critic speaks up and tries to reduce your self-confidence, act as a friend and defend yourself against self-judgement.

2. Present yourself confidently

People who are self-confident present themselves differently from people who feel unsure of themselves. They walk with purpose and maintain a good posture, sitting or standing straight with their head up and shoulders back. When they meet people, they smile, maintain eye contact and speak audibly. Adopting these habits may help you believe in yourself more. For example, smiling releases good endorphins which can give your self-esteem a boost.

3. Prioritise self-care

Practising self-care reminds you that you are worthwhile. It also puts you in control of your life and improves your mood. Having a positive outlook is essential for confidence. Some busy professionals find scheduling self-care activities helps them relax and recharge. An early morning walk or post-work dance class can get your endorphins firing. Preparing ingredients or whole meals on the weekend can set you up for nutritious dinners during the week. Set an alarm for a suitable bedtime and consider calming rituals, like drinking herbal tea or taking a bath, to help you drift off to sleep.

4. Spend time on activities you're good at

Spending time on activities you excel at makes you feel good. These activities confirm your skills, which boosts your confidence every time you participate. For example, you might be a good piano player or surfer. When you play a piece well or ride a great wave, your confidence improves. Schedule regular time for these activities for the best results.

5. Pay attention to your achievements

Your achievements can highlight your skills and character. Think about your achievements and what they teach you about yourself. For example, getting a promotion shows you have good leadership skills, you're good at your job and you're well respected. A small achievement, such as scrambling eggs well for breakfast, shows you're a good cook. You may like to make a list containing your achievements and what they confirm as something you can refer back to later if you want to rebuild your confidence. You can continue adding to the list as you achieve more in your career and personal life.

Related: How to List Achievements on Your Resume (With Examples and Tips)

6. Set new goals and achieve them

Achieving goals is an excellent way to boost your confidence, as it shows you that you can accomplish something when you set your mind to it. Recent achievements can remind you that you are worthy and deserve to have confidence in the person you are now. This is very important for people who feel their notable achievements were a long time ago. You can achieve short-term goals quickly for small confidence gains. While achieving long-term goals takes time, making progress and eventually accomplishing your aims can give you a large confidence boost.

Related: How to Utilise Goal-Setting Theory in the Workplace

7. Focus on yourself

Focusing on yourself relieves you of the pressure that can come from comparing yourself to others. This self-focus lets your achievements, qualities and goals stand on their own. You can celebrate them all, rather than noticing that someone else seemed better or made faster progress. If you find yourself comparing yourself to others, remind yourself that everyone has loved something, lost something and felt fearful of something. This reminder puts you on the same human level as other people. Remembering this can help you turn your attention away from others and put the focus back on yourself.

8. Do your best

While many people strive for perfection, few people achieve it. Rather than aiming to be perfect, instead aim to do your best. This new, more realistic and attainable goal helps you achieve, feel satisfied by your performance and gain confidence.

Related: Self-Worth in the Workplace

9. Learn from mistakes

As few people achieve perfection, mistakes are inevitable. Self-confident people understand this and use mistakes as opportunities for growth. Every time you make a mistake, consider what you could have done differently. Thinking about a better plan with the benefit of hindsight can help prepare you for action in the future. If you're ever in a similar situation, you can feel confident that you know how to make better choices and improve the outcome.

10. Practise self-acceptance

Self-acceptance is understanding that you're okay just as you are. People who accept themselves know they have weaknesses and flaws. They accept these parts of themselves, just as they accept their strengths. They acknowledge that it takes all these elements to make them the person they are. When you can accept yourself, rather than wanting to change parts of yourself, you can feel confident about the unique person you are.

11. Challenge yourself with new tasks and activities

While doing things you're good at builds your self-confidence, accepting challenges can take your confidence to the next level. People with self-confidence trust in themselves. If you feel confident in yourself, you know you can use your skills, knowledge and character to meet challenges. As you rise to new challenges, you confirm that you were right to trust yourself. This increases the trust you have and your confidence.

Related: How to Overcome Challenges at Work (A Guide And Examples)

12. Confront your fears

Even confident people have fears. Fears are often barriers that prevent people from feeling as confident as they might. Confronting your fears can remove your power and make you feel more confident. While skydiving or speaking up in a meeting can be confronting, knowing that you pushed past the fear to make it happen can free you from the fear's control. Confronting fears creates memories you can draw on if you're feeling uncertain about anything else in the future. As you survived pushing past fear before, you're likely to feel confident you can do the same again.

13. Surround yourself with positive people

While self-confidence comes from within, the people around you can boost or erode it. Surrounding yourself with positive people is a good way to ensure your self-confidence stays high. Spend time at least once a month with good friends who believe in you. Consider who you surround yourself with online and make sure you only follow social media accounts that bring you joy. If you face setbacks, schedule a dinner or movie date with your friends to ensure your confidence stays strong.

14. Speak to a counsellor

Some people take more time to build self-confidence than others. If you feel the process is challenging on your own, a counsellor may help you. Counsellors can help you develop personalised strategies for building your confidence. They can also help you recognise and address any factors that may impact your progress, such as anxiety or depression.

Why self-confidence matters

Self-confidence can have an impact on the way you see yourself and the way others view you. When you see yourself in a positive way, you're more likely to succeed. When other people also view you positively, they're more likely to interact with and help you. Here are some of the benefits of having self-confidence:

  • Better mental health: People with self-confidence are less likely to be anxious or depressed, as they find silencing their critical inner voices easier.

  • Better relationships: Self-confidence helps people create positive first impressions and interact well with others, as they feel at ease with themselves.

  • Greater self-awareness: People with self-confidence know their true strengths and weaknesses, rather than what others or their inner critic suggests.

  • Improved motivation: Self-confidence helps people expect success, which can motivate them to move towards their goals.

  • Greater resilience: Self-confident people see setbacks as learning opportunities rather than dwelling on them.

  • More willing to take risks: Self-confident people are more likely to try new things because they trust their abilities can help them succeed and know they're resilient enough to learn from any setbacks.

  • Greater development: As self-confident people feel motivated to set and achieve goals and take risks, they continue achieving new and exciting things.

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