Fake it 'til you make it.
How many times have we heard that phrase?
It is the go-to thing people typically say when asked how someone can appear confident. But is this phrase really that useful? Does it really make sense?
When I was asked a question about how I am so confident, I was honestly surprised. By no means do I feel confident. My immediate response was, "Fake it 'til you make it."
But afterward, I mulled over my response. It felt inadequate. Everyone says that phrase, but how do you "fake it?" The phrase doesn't actually give someone the tools to appear confident—rather, it is an ambiguous phrase that is easy to repeat, but not so easy to implement.
Over the last year, my confidence had been wrecked to its core. I'll be honest: faking it did not really seem an option. It just seemed like a lie, to others and most of all to myself. But if my confidence was near its all-time low, how am I even supposed to function like a normal human being? It felt as if I was trapped in this vortex of doubt with no way out. I know I did not want to be there and so I desperately searched for the answer of how to fake it.
I found something out though. It wasn't faking it that pulled me out of the vortex, it was focusing on progress.
We can become better if we choose to approach everything from a mindset of progress. Being confident in your actions doesn't require that you know everything. Being confident doesn’t even require that the outcome will be good and that it won't hurt.
Being confident is knowing that when you do something, it is a learning opportunity and that failing is okay.
Let's take things into perspective: Imagine you had been told that if you did not lose 100 pounds, you would die in a year. What are your choices? You either lose the weight or die. But 100 pounds is a lot to lose and can scare people into complacency or inaction. Imagine if you started exercising and eating well that it bought you time to reach your goal. Imagine if you did it and the lifestyle changes you had to make to achieve that goal drastically improved your life for the better. Your life has been improved and your perception of the world changed, when the other option had been death. Something, in this case, is clearly better than nothing.
So I will ask you: Why are we even afraid?
Most are afraid of not achieving their goal or that it is too much. But what if we were no longer afraid of not achieving our goal? Imagine how freeing it would feel to say to yourself, "You know what, this doesn't have to be perfect. I don't even have to achieve my goal, but as long as I am moving towards it, that's okay."
The obstacle of fear is then overcome with every step you make every day until you are suddenly running. But with everything in life, how do we know which goals are worth chasing?
There is this concept of SMART goals. Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. This is a great tool for creating a goal. It gives you a very clear idea of what you are going for, what you are trying to achieve, and how hard you should work for it.
The problem starts with not knowing which goals to set. I know I have had so many ideas running around through my mind and so many things that I want to do that I just look at everything and say, "Where do I even start to even start?"
At the beginning of the new year, I set aside time, pulled out a stack of sticky notes and a sharpie. Without judgment, I wrote down all of the things that I wanted to achieve on individual sticky notes. As I looked up at all the things I had written down, I realized that they were all towards a similar goal, "BE HAPPY." So I wrote that on the top.
Here is where I am going to say something that most people who swear by SMART are likely going to consider wild.
I threw aside SMART and decided I was just going to make progress on all these things. I did not time box myself. I did not set a measurement. Each day I worked on all those goals. We haven't even completed two months in the new year and I feel a drastic change from the beginning of the new year and now. As I have worked on these goals, I found new things that I wanted to work on, until the main goal changed to "BE AT PEACE."
I have left all the sticky notes up and they stand as a reminder to me every day, to work on them and improve everyday. Not all of the goals have been achieved and some goals will always require constant vigilance, but at least I am moving towards them.
In every endeavor, just like getting physically fit, you have to start small and work your way up until you are able to run marathons. But if you shy away from it because it is too much then you will never achieve that thing in the first place because you never did anything.
Find a place that gives you enough space to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Not knowing all the answers and pursuing your goals one step at a time is essential to feeling confident, so take the steps.
You don't have to fake it. You just have to do something.
About the Author:
Lisa Lessenger has been a member of Central Austin Toastmasters since July 2018. She joined Toastmasters because she saw it as a place that she could grow exponentially in many different ways. Since joining, she has completed Innovative Planning Level 2.