Next to a Positive Attitude, the Most Important Thing You Can Do to Live a Happier, More Productive Life

I was listening to Brian Tracy's program The Science of Self-Confidence a few days ago.

In it Tracy referenced a quotation from the late psychologist Abraham Maslow (1908-1970). Maslow once said …

"The story of the human race is the story of men and women selling themselves short."

Tracy says that the great majority of people tend to compare themselves unfavorably to others … they dwell on their own limitations and weaknesses and eventually settle for far less than they're really capable of.

He goes on to say, "Instead of enjoying high levels of self-esteem, self-respect and personal pride, the average person just gets by from day to day."

It really hit home with me.

All too often, I'd let criticism (even well-meaning criticism) of something I wrote put me in "a funk" that was very difficult to escape from. It would cut into my productivity and I'd let it affect my attitude towards things that weren't even work-related.

How about you?

Do you ever lack self-confidence? Does the self-confidence you have seem to disappear at times when you need it the most? Do you sometimes sell yourself short?

If so, I invite you to continue reading. Because, with the help of Tracy's Self Confidence program, I'm going to give you specific changes you can start making in your life right now. Changes that will help you boost your self-confidence to an entirely new level.

Along with a positive attitude, self-confidence is the key to leading a happier, more productive life.

The self-confident person tends to achieve more than the "average" person.

You'll look at each day as being filled with unlimited potential, instead of something you have to get through in order to stay alive.

You'll live bolder.

You'll feel more powerful and persuasive.

You'll be more popular and respected.

You'll be more imaginative.

You'll set bigger goals and make bigger plans.

Every task you do, you'll do better.

You'll even have better relationships.

Bottom line is you'll be more successful at everything you do.

The good news is self-confidence is something you can develop and systematically build up over time.

The first step is to be aware of "the law of cause and effect." Basically it says that for every effect there is a specific cause. If you change the cause, you can change the effect.

For example, if you determine what people do that makes them successful, and mirror what they do, you'll be successful too.

The same thing goes with self-confidence. If you do the same things as self-confident people, you too will be self-confident.

So what are the things you need to do that self-confident people have done for years and continue to do?

Tracy says there are four main things to put in place for your life to establish a solid "self-confidence foundation." Starting today …

  • Define and live by your values – It's extremely important to define what you stand for and what you believe in. Pull out a piece of paper and a pen and make a list of what values are important to you. Here is a list (by no means complete) of some popular values: freedom, money, financial security, happiness, integrity, public service, being compassionate to the less fortunate, good health, spending time with your family, hard work, success, honesty and generosity.

    TIP: Think of people, living or dead who you respect. List the qualities you admire in them. Maybe it's their persistence or their desire to make the world a better place that appeals to you. Whatever it may be, write it down. Another way to pinpoint what's important to you is to write your obituary. What are the qualities you want people to remember you for?

    Once you have your list, prioritize them. Pick the most important value you'd keep if you had to throw all the others away. Continue this process until you have a number assigned to each value.

    While you're doing this, keep in mind a 25-year study cited by Tracy. This study found companies with clear written values that their employees recognized earned an average 700% more than companies in the same industry that did not have written values!

  • Make sure your actions always express and represent your values – Of course, defining your values is important, but it's not enough. You have to live by them. Your actions in life should reflect your values.

    For instance, if your number one value is spending time with your family, yet you continually choose to work late instead of attending your son's soccer game, you're not being true to the values you've defined for yourself. If one of your most important values is your health, yet you continue to smoke, drink and avoid exercise, then again your actions are not reflecting your values.

    You have to be committed to your values in everything you do and everything you say.

  • Always tell the truth – No matter what the short-term cost, always tell the truth. Never do or say anything that flies in the face of what you know to be right. Never stay in a situation that makes you unhappy or you know is wrong for you. Peace of mind should be one of the highest goals you strive for in life. Never compromise your peace of mind for anything or anyone.

  • Set (and write down) goals for yourself – Tracy says, "Your ability to set goals is the master skill of success." He states flatly that it's more important than anything else you can do or ever learn. It's important because it gives you a clear sense of purpose and a sense of direction in life.

    I'm sure you've heard the following statistic: only 3% of people ever write down their goals. Are you one of the 3% or one of the 97%? If you fall in the 97%, why not change that right now? Write down what's important to you in life. What you want to achieve … what you want your life to look like in the future. Prioritize your goals and then write up a detailed plan (with timeframes) on how you're going to achieve each goal starting with your number one goal.

    Reward yourself along the way. When you reach a milestone within your goal, give yourself a small reward. Perhaps buy that new book you've wanted to read. When you actually accomplish one of your goals, give yourself a larger reward. Maybe buy the new stereo, television or Apple product you've been hankering for.

    As you accomplish one goal, add a bigger and better goal to your list. If you do this and follow through, your success will be guaranteed. Remember, everything ever accomplished in the history of the world was done by someone who set out to achieve a goal.

Once you've completed these four things, you'll have a firm base to rest your self-confidence on.

Next, Tracy recommends the following five steps that will help you maintain your self-confidence and in turn reach every goal you want to accomplish in life:

  • Take responsibility for what you think, say and do – If there's something in your life that makes you unhappy, it's up to you to change what's causing your unhappiness. No one else is going to do it for you. It's 100% your responsibility. Keep in mind that in addition to your actions having consequences, your inactions also have consequences. In fact, the things you don't do often have a bigger negative effect on your life than any mistakes you make. Make sure all your reactions to occurrences in your life are positive and optimistic, not negative and doom-filled.

  • Remind yourself of your goals every day – Tracy recommends writing out your goals on 3" by 5" index cards and reading them to yourself several times each day. He also suggests you rewrite your goals in a spiral notebook every morning. When you write them out, phrase them like they are already a reality. This will help you build your self-confidence and self-esteem. Plus it will focus your mental power on your goals. You'll be more focused and have a clearer idea of what you need to do each day to achieve them.

  • Create a clear mental picture of the person you want to be, doing the things you want to do – This is a powerful technique. Let's say you have an important interview or sales call coming up. Before the event occurs, visualize it in your mind. Picture yourself acing the conversation. Plus imagine how good it will feel once you successfully complete it. Hall of Fame golfer Jack Nicklaus used this technique throughout his career. Nicklaus says …

    “I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp, in-focus picture of it in my head. First I see the ball where I want it to finish, nice and white and sitting up high on the bright green grass. Then the scene quickly changes, and I see the ball going there; its path, trajectory, and shape, even its behavior on landing. Then there is a sort of fade-out, and the next scene shows me making the kind of swing that will turn the previous images into reality.”

    A slight variation of this is to recall a similar situation to the one you're facing where you were completely successful, and then re-live it in your mind. Picture yourself relaxed, confident and making all the right moves.

    Plus continually visualize yourself as the person you want to be. Imagine yourself making six figures as a writer. Get a clear image of how good it will feel when you meet and exceed all your career and life goals.

  • Continually feed your mind with positive information – Read books and articles, listen to audio programs and/or watch videos that will better equip you for success. Everything you do in life either raises or lowers your self-confidence. So if you keep your mind filled with constructive, useful and upbeat information, you can't help but have a consistently more positive attitude about your future prospects.

  • Surround yourself with positive people – And get as far away from negative, critical, always complaining people as you can. Because we are all heavily influenced by the people in our lives, it's important to make sure you surround yourself with people who add to your self-confidence, self-esteem and optimism towards life – not diminish it. Hang around with people you want to be like. Associate yourself with winners. Read books about successful people you admire.

Define your values and live by them, get in the habit of setting and achieving goals and follow Tracy's five-step self-confidence formula and you can't help but have more self-confidence in every area of your life.

Not only will you make more money and be more successful at what you do, you'll enjoy more peace of mind at the end of every day. And that's really what it's all about, isn't it?

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Published: February 7, 2011

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