Go for the Bold: Cultivate Confidence
Collect comebacks. Practice three perfect zingers to keep in your arsenal for the next time your obnoxious coworker makes a crack about how you never work past five. ("Too bad you can't get your work done during normal hours and have to stay late. I prefer to have a life.")
Thank your parents. Remind your mom and dad (and yourself) how far you've come by sending them a heartfelt letter about how their advice and support have helped you achieve your goals. Your level of confidence is often related to how other people -- especially your parents -- view you; when they see you as a successful adult, you're that much closer to believing it.
Buddy up. Recruit a trusted friend to be your confidence buddy. "Agree to e-mail each other twice a week, pointing out a few of the other person's recent successes," suggests Larina Kase, PsyD, author of Anxious 9 to 5. Be specific: "You looked fabulous in that Donna Karan suit," or "You told the funniest story over drinks last night." "Shining a spotlight on your strengths will give you a more positive outlook," says Kase.
Spread the joy. Shell out some positive energy each week by bringing fresh-cut flowers to an overworked friend or mowing an elderly neighbor's lawn. "Research shows that doing a good deed builds your own self-confidence," says Tim Ursiny, PhD, author of The Confidence Plan.
Trust your judgment. Go one week without asking for anyone else's opinion on anything -- from what to wear to the fund-raiser to the best title for that memo -- and follow your own instincts. You may learn you have all the answers.
Flirt fearlessly. Plop down next to that cute guy who's typing away on his laptop at your favorite coffee bar and say, "Can I buy you a latte in exchange for checking a movie time on your computer?" If all goes well, ask him to join you.
Fix it yourself. Learn to do one frustrating thing that always requires the help of your partner, handyman, or office techie, like changing a flat tire or fixing a printer paper jam. Mastering a skill, especially if it's something you've been avoiding, will give you the self-assurance to take on other challenges.
Kick a habit. Give up those cigarettes, soap operas, or snacks that have an unhealthy hold over your life. "Being a slave to a habit makes you feel like a victim," says cognitive psychologist Pierce Howard, PhD. Announce your goal to everyone you know, then join a support group, see your doctor for help, or keep a journal to pinpoint what triggers your addiction.
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