What if I could promise you that you would always be the most confident person all of the time, in every single situation, no matter what the situation is?
You would probably call me a liar. And for most people you would be right by calling me a liar.
So what is confidence and what is self-esteem. The definitions of both are below.
Confidence: a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.
Self-Esteem: confidence in one’s own worth or abilities.
So which one comes first? That’s easy. You have to build up your self-esteem well before you can ever be confident in something. Self-esteem is an inside job. Let me repeat. Self-esteem is an inside job.
You have to become confident in your own worth and abilities, and in doing so you will become more confident in your abilities and qualities.
What prevents us from having more self-esteem? There are two killers to self-esteem. Procrastination and Easing up.
We’ll start with procrastination first. This is more important than easing up, because if you don’t get started there is nothing to ease up on.
Procrastination, like self-esteem is an inside job as well. It begins with you. I say it is deadly because in our heads we really don’t think it matters that much to delay. We just keep putting things off until we are forced to do it by someone else. Or our situation becomes so bad that we have to make a change.
Here is an example: That little light that comes on in your car when your gas gets low. When those were first created many Americans continued to drive and would, “surprise, surprise”, run out of gas. Many of the automakers increased the amount of fuel, thus increasing the distance you could drive because of all the complaints they received. To this day according to one study, some 827,000 people still run out of gas every year.
This example illustrates the point doesn’t it? Even when people know the inevitable they will still procrastinate. So why? Here is a list of a few of the reasons why.
- We think we have more time: As the low fuel light indicates, many people think they have more time than they actually do. This is many people’s approach to life as well. We think we have more time than we actually do. Not trying to be morbid, but our time is finite here on this earth. We only have so much time. There is only so much time in a day, in a week, and a year. Many people go through life thinking they will have more time, when the only time we know we have is right now.
- It’s not the right time: Quick story: I can remember when I was 18. I had just graduated high school and I was working all of the time. Since I worked so much, even though I was young, I just wasn’t as active as I had been and I was gaining weight. I made the decision that I was going to start lifting weights and exercising. This is around November or so. I was telling a good friend of mine about my decision and that I would start the first of the year. I can still remember his response “Why are you going to wait, why not start now?” As silly as it sounds, I didn’t have an answer for him. So, I did what he asked. I started that day and I have never looked back.Now I know many of you are saying well I have this or that to do. “Right now the kids are in a lot of sports”, “I have too much going on at work”, “I will once the winter gets here.” All of these are excuses. The time will never be right. If it is that important to you there is no reason you can’t start now.
- We don’t find the time: One of my favorite quotes is: “If it is important you will find the time, if it isn’t important you will find an excuse.” How important it is to you is where it all begins. When the why is strong the how gets easier. You have to find the time and the why.
- You waste your time: Once you burn a day that day is gone forever. It will never be back. Have you ever been driving home in the evening after work, totally exhausted, and you are thinking about the day and asking yourself, “What did I accomplish today?” and you can’t think of anything worthwhile that you accomplished. Now, I am sure you are saying, “Things come up that are out of my control”. Yep, I am sure they do, and they always will. We have to prioritize our time, or we will allow things to always come up and prevent us from doing the things we want to do.
There are other reasons that we procrastinate as well. Things such as we are perfectionists, we don’t know how to do it, we don’t know what to do, the project seems too big to take it on.
All of these excuses lead to procrastination. Every little thing we make a decision to procrastinate on it silently digs at our self-esteem. The problem with this little dig, is we don’t feel it. If we got shocked as if we had a shock collar on every-time our self-esteem was diminished, we wouldn’t do it, but that isn’t the case, thankfully.
Why does procrastination hurt my self-esteem again? Human beings innately are action oriented and are always seeking more. It is in our DNA, it is ingrained in our heads. We know we are capable of more. We know we can learn more. Do more. See more. Give more.
Because we know we are capable of more, when we do less than we know we are capable of doing, internally we know it. Our brains know it. We know we could have and in many cases should have given more than we gave.
Let me say the opposite way. Think about a big accomplishment you have made. I mean a big one. Maybe you graduated from college, purchased your first home, bought your own car, lost a bunch of weight, ran your first marathon, etc. Pick one.
When you accomplished that milestone why was it such a big moment of celebration and enjoyment for you?
You know what it took to accomplish it. It took hard work and dedication. It took delayed gratification on your part. You had to scrimp and save. You had to run lots of miles to give you the stamina to run a full marathon. You had to eat less and exercise more. All of these little things you had to do to accomplish the milestone was you taking action and made them happen. Procrastination does the opposite.
When you hit your milestone and accomplishment your confidence and self-esteem was at its highest. You felt so good about yourself, because you know your worth. You know you have the abilities to do it, and you know the qualities you possess within that allowed you to meet your goal. These things build up your self-esteem, and procrastination does the opposite.
The other killer to self-esteem is easing up. Although procrastination is responsible for a higher level of lack of self-esteem because you can’t build self-esteem if you never do anything. I think easing up causes more anxiety and disappointment than procrastination does.
I have this friend. He has a shorter body type, you know the type, short and stocky. Short and stocky people tend to add weight pretty quickly. I am not a doctor, I am just an observer and that is what I have observed. He has struggled with off and on weight gain for most of his life. A few years ago he got really into health and fitness. He was working out all of the time, eating very healthy, and doing everything the right way. He really looked good and felt good.
Well, then he had an injury. This injury was one of those injuries that is more of a nag than something that prevents you from not doing anything at all.
He had two choices. He could quit or he could modify. Like most people he chose to quit. Look I am not him and I don’t know his level of pain. However, here is what I do know. Day after day, week after week, he is constantly talking about getting back to that same level of health fitness that he was at a few years ago. While talking about getting back he has taken no actions to do so. In his case he eased up and ultimately quit. That is the worst case scenario under the easing up category. You ease up so much that you ultimately quit.
I personally believe easing up and ultimately quitting is worse for your self-esteem than never getting started. The reason is simple: you have proven you can do it already. You have been there, don’t that, and now you have squandered it all. That takes a huge toll on your self-esteem. When you wake up everyday and say to yourself I know I can do this, because I have done it, but I have lost it all again. All of my hard work, all of my commitments, all of my successes are now gone. That loss is heart breaking and is a self-esteem killer.
Some of the other problems with easing up. We know that easing up can lead to quitting which is the worst case scenario, but here are few other issues and ways we ease up.
One of the ways I have “eased up” is this. At one time I made the commitment that I was going to write every single day. Now looking back on that decision, I should have modified that decision some at the beginning because it is hard to go from zero (no writing) to 100 (writing everyday). I did ultimately modify that some. I went to three days a week. Its not the point though. When I made that decision I stuck with my commitment pretty solidly for about a year and a half. I was writing at least three days a week. But then something happened. I eased up some.
You know what easing up sounds like don’t you? “I have already done a lot of writing”. “I wrote a book, and that was the ultimate goal, I don’t need to write as much.” “I am much further in my writing than I ever thought I would be.” “If you knew where I started from, you would be amazed on how far I have come.” You get the point with these phrases don’t you? You go into justification mode. We all do it and have done it.
When we start using the justification phrases like I did, you know you are slowing down. And when you start slowing down, you are one step closer to quitting. Which means you are one step closer to your self-esteem going back down to where it was and lower before you ever started.
Do you want to be more confident in everything you are doing? Than you have to make commitments and see them through. You have to fight off procrastination and easing up. Literally, you have to fight it sometimes. It is lurking around the edges all of the time, just waiting for an opportune time to sweep in and kill your hopes and your dreams and ultimately your self-esteem.
To your success and your future.