What is the hardest thing you have ever done?
Many of us want to make changes in our life (helping people make change is the bread and butter of my work). It is easy to make a list of the things that you would like to change --lose weight, get exercise, find a new job, make new friends, fall in love, etc.
It can be a little harder to think about the qualities you would like to change about yourself--be kinder, work harder, procrastinate less, be more expressive or more assertive.
It is super easy to think about what you would like other's to change! But then again, that is just wishful thinking! Change has to come from within.
The problem is not considering what you want to change, but having confidence that you can accomplish your goal. We are often lacking in the belief that we can be successful in altering ourselves or our lives. We may feel like we don't have the resources we need or the belief that we can succeed.
For example, a teacher wants to become a marriage counselor. This involves going back to school, while continuing to work, finding the money for tuition, and gaining admission into a counseling program at a university. Sure all of these steps are doable, but involve considerable effort, potential risk, and sometimes, the support of others.
Making these steps, in any direction you wish to travel, also requires self-confidence. You have to believe that you can do it!
What inspires us to believe we can accomplish our goals?
It is helpful to have cheerleaders. When my kids struggle, I always remind them how much confidence I have in their ability to find their own solutions to their concerns. I like to remind them how smart, resourceful and capable they are. They do think to themselves "Well of course he thinks that, he's my father!" But the message of hope and faith always sinks in, and inspires the person's own belief in themselves, even when they have doubt.
But then sometimes, where are the cheerleaders when we need one?
This is when it is good to remember--what are some of the difficult challenges I have overcome? Getting my PhD in psychology came pretty easily to me. I was always good at school and I enjoyed it too. So going to school, getting good grades, and sticking with it wasn't particularly hard. Getting my black belt in Aikido (a martial art) was the hardest thing I have ever done. I have no talent in the physical realm! I am uncoordinated, slow, and have poor memory for movement. I have absolutely no talent in this sport! (My teacher does not disagree with my own self-assessment!). But, what I do have is persistence. It took me 9 years to obtain my first degree black belt, but I did it (Actually, now I have earned my 2nd degree)!
This accomplishment reminds me that I can succeed at something that does not come easily to me. It inspires me to stick with other difficult tasks--like losing weight and keeping it off. When I remember how hard it was for me to stick with Aikido and overcome my own lack of ability, I can become my own cheerleader. I know that I can succeed because I have been successful in other venues.
Make an inventory of your small (and large) successes. Confidence does not require that you have been able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. What inner resources enabled you to accomplish goals in the past? Realize that you still have those abilities and they can be transferred to new endeavors.
Be your own cheerleader! Recall your past successes and remind yourself that you are a capable, competent person who has accomplished both small and large goals in the past. You can do it!
Share your success stories. What was your most challenging accomplishment?