1. Make a list of the things you enjoy. Humans are more inclined to excel in that which entertains and diverts them, rather than things they find tiresome. On your list, you’re likely to discover something in which you have invested substantial time. For one, you are likely better at this thing than your peers. And even if that is not true, continue to work at it and bask in the positive feelings the activity gives you.
2. Set goals and move toward them. Simply stated, those without goals do not achieve goals. We feel better about ourselves when we are meeting and exceeding our expectations. Not to mention, looking forward to something is a great mood lifter.
3. Stop comparing yourself to others. This is easier said than done. I frequently think of something my father used to say to me on the soccer field, which serves as a pleasant reminder: “When you’re surrounded by better players, you’ll only become a better player.” Use others as inspiration to achieve your goals, rather than a reason to beat yourself up.
4. In the same vein, identify those whom you envy and learn why. The antithesis of envy is gratitude. When you feel envious, you are given a sense of direction. Your mind and heart are telling you that which you desire; and identification is the first step toward achievement. Too many people live without a clear concept of their purpose. We should feel grateful for those who are both showing us the way and paving it for us.
5. Exercise. Working out is one of the fastest methods of releasing “feel good” neurotransmitters. If you are not someone who normally exercises, play some good music and have a dance party by yourself. Within a few minutes you will feel mentally refreshed.
6. Pay attention to the criticism you are given, and use it to your advantage. This is another one of those inverse examples. Don’t let criticism offend you; let it make you better. In order to properly do this, one must first identify the source of the critique. If this is a person with whom you have only negligible familiarity, or if this individual is known for slandering others without basis, feel free to disregard the criticism. However, if the source in question is a friend, parent, or workmate, the censure is often worth your consideration. Don’t get offended; simply identify whether it exists in your personality or behavior, and if so, don’t let it happen again. You’ll be shocked at how receptive others become toward you.
7. Communicate to earn respect. Of course, others’ respect should never exceed respect for ourselves, but the two often go hand-in-hand and the former certainly never hurts. Here is how to communicate with confidence: be honest, be authentic, have integrity, and respect others. Honesty entails conveying what you mean truthfully. Authenticity refers to one’s true self — don’t try to be someone you’re not. Integrity means do what you say you’ll do when you’re being honest and authentic. Respect seems fairly self-explanatory, but too many forget that this last rule tempers the first three. It is difficult to upset or affront others when you are respecting them. Practice these in conversation and observe how your relationships—and your confidence—thrive.
8. Own your quirks! If you communicate well, your quirks and oddities will separate you from the crowd. They will help you build your proverbial brand. Do not hide from these things; use them! And most importantly, never, ever lose them. They are truly all you have when you have nothing else.