It seems like everyone’s working on a new project these days. Whether you hear your friend is starting a new business, or you’re burning the midnight oil to make your passion project come to life after working the dayshift at your job, we live in a world fascinated by success. For many of us, starting something new can be a terrifying prospect for precisely that reason. How do you make a positive change in your life, knowing that it will take hard work? Uncertainty, difficulty, and risk all threaten to throw you off your game anytime you consider taking that first step on a new project or switching up your lifestyle.
The truth is, what we’ve come to understand as “success” doesn’t happen overnight, and the world’s best success stories all show the power of perseverance and strength in the face of intimidating obstacles.
But success isn’t a giant elevator that you can press a button in to reach the sky – it’s a small step up, taken right now.
That’s where confidence comes in. Of course, not everyone is naturally confident.
Unfortunately, it also seems obvious that those of us who could probably use a boost in the confidence department are the ones who might be too afraid to make the first move to get from where we are to where we want to be.
But even if you’re not a natural born peacock, and confidence isn’t a personality attribute you’ve ever really had in your arsenal, luckily, it’s a skill you can build. Developing confidence can take time and patience, but strengthening that muscle over time is as great a goal as whatever your main project may be. Here are some ways to get that boost when you need it most.
Do your due diligence
Knowledge is an important part of embarking on a new endeavor. Maybe you’re going vegan and you need to learn what alternatives work in your favorite recipes now that you can’t use eggs, butter or cheese. Maybe you’re launching a new product or a business in an industry that’s new to you.
Sometimes, a lack of confidence can be an indicator that you’ve got more work to do. What else can you learn about your new project? Can you do research into competitors or predecessors related to the business you’re starting? Whether it’s a hobby, a passion project or a career move, brushing up on the details of the field you’re entering can be an immediate confidence boost.
Even better, this one’s often available to you for free at your local library, through people you know and contacts you’ve made, or even with a quick search on the Internet.
Join your community
Whatever your new project is, chances are you’re not alone. Out there on the planet (read, Internet) there is probably some kind of community that’s passionate about your new hobby or interest or passion. Thanks to the web, they’re usually pretty easy to find.
Social media makes meeting like-minded people as easy as ever. There are Facebook groups based around every single hobby and preference you can imagine, hashtags across Twitter and Instagram unite people who love the #paleo diet, people who live a #digitalnomad lifestyle, people who live in particular countries or have specific political beliefs.
If you’re the kind of person who prefers meeting your community “IRL”, joining a site like Meetup can help you get together with people who love the sport you play or are learning the same language that’s taken your fancy.
Confidence starts to seem easy when you’re surrounded with people who support your interests. You can use the resources your community makes available to members, and eventually become a resource for others like you. Soon, the confidence starts to spread and if nothing else, you’ve got the support of your community (and strength in numbers).
Find a mentor
It’s not always easy, but finding a mentor can often be the biggest confidence boost out there when it comes to starting a new project. Being able to check in with someone who is knowledgeable and wise in whatever the subject of your project is can be an enormous relief.
Having a mentor takes off the pressure of getting it all right on your own since you have the benefit of guidance from someone who’s in the know or been there before. If that doesn’t bump up your confidence in and of itself, surely having a mentor who can give you positive feedback when you’re succeeding and making progress in your project will dial up your confidence levels.
Finding a mentor can take time, since both mentor and mentee will want to click in the relationship and see some mutual benefit from whatever mentorship arrangement you create together. Use resources like LinkedIn to connect with icons in your chosen career path, or check out some of the industry-specific mentoring platforms that cater individually to mentorships in business, the arts, social change and more.
Of course, if you’ve boosted your confidence enough from our other tips, networking is a smart way to go to find a mentor you can connect with immediately and grow with over time.
Pay it forward
Confidence makes a huge difference when it comes to taking that first step in a new project. Once you start to develop your own confidence, take it to the next level by paying it forward.
Helping others who might be dealing with the same concerns you had when you started out will boost your own confidence even further, but it also creates a cycle that spreads support throughout the world. When you see a new face in your community, offer some of the tips and tricks that helped you get started. Or just share a kind word.
Confidence can come from the most innocent moments and the most simple kindnesses, and they all represent that first step towards success.