12 Most Confidence-Boosting Tips for Rocking a Big Project
I faced a big deadline for a client project this week. Without realizing it, I’d allowed fear and doubt to seep into my brain. Not so much about my ability to complete the project as much as my ability to totally rock it and thrill the client.
A well-timed email from a dear friend jolted me out of my funk. And instead of missing a deadline amidst my swarming anxiety, I buckled down, worked all night (literally — and that part wasn’t pretty) and did it. I met the deadline. I’ll find out tomorrow about the client’s reaction. But I feel confident it will be good.
The whole episode got me thinking… if I needed a list of things to encourage me the next time a wave of self doubt swept over me as I tackled a project, what would that look like? Here it is.
1. Tell yourself you can do it
Last night, as I headed out to a local Starbucks to work, I actually told myself, out loud, in my car: “You’ve got this. You can do this. Now, get going!” Crazy? Maybe. Did it help? Yep.
2. Don’t just say that, but feel it and convince yourself
Okay, here’s the disclaimer: If you truly lack the skills or preparation necessary to complete the task, this one doesn’t work. However, if you know you’ve done the dress rehearsals, got the lines memorized and feel kind of ready to take the stage… then urge yourself onward. Shine!
3. Put the notes aside
I like to prepare, research and get really ready to take something on that’s big and bold. Problem is, relying on notes can be like using those rubber nose plugs some people use for swimming. What happens when they’re not there?
Try setting the notes aside. And just go for it. You might be amazed at how much you can do without the notes and cheat sheets.
4. Acknowledge the fear
You don’t have to pretend that what you are staring down is a cinch. Let yourself own that it’s a big deal. But don’t let that acknowledgement block progress. Notice it. Let it pass. And keep going.
5. Use other affirmations as you go
Even as you tackle a project with a mindset cranked to “YES!,” doubts are likely to creep back in. Artists or entrepreneurs who insist they knew the whole time they were destined for greatness are full of crap. When the strength wavers, pull out a strong affirmation and bring back the conviction. This site has 19 strong, simple affirmations.
6. Know that some doubt is a good thing…
It’s only human to question whether you really have it in you. To wonder whether you can really bring it. That’s okay.
7. …but don’t let doubt shut you down
The mind is a very, very powerful influencer. When I was a freshman in college, studying for a final exam with a friend from class, I watched her go from unsure, but cogent — at about 8 p.m. — to terrified and neurotically ill — by 11 p.m. She was hyperventilating. She looked pale and dreadful. And she went by ambulance from our dorm to the emergency room. (Not kidding, here.) She missed the exam the next morning. She had to retake it at the end of the summer. And that sucked way, way worse than if she could’ve swept away the freakout vibes gripping her brain and powered on with the final when it was scheduled at the semester’s end.
Keep breathing calmly and deeply. It has a huge affect on the ability to keep everything else in check. Seriously.
9. Give into the pull of caffeine
Don’t underestimate the power of coffee. Lots of coffee.
10. Picture success
As I cranked through the project that inspired this post, I visualized what was taking shape and how it was coming together. I used that to keep imagining the finished project, polished and effective.
11. Remember another time you totally pulled it off
This almost certainly isn’t the first time you’re tackling a big or important project. Surely, you’ve had other successes. That last time you rocked it? Yep, go there. And let that memory boost your energy and self-confidence for this one.
12. Get up and move
Take a short, brisk walk. Jump up and down for a minute. Dance to a song on Pandora. Or take the stairs. I did (and went downstairs to get more coffee). The point is, if you get stuck, physically moving — even for a couple of minutes — can help reboot your brain.
I am going to post this list in my office to remind myself the next time I feel that quivery feeling of self doubt in the face of a deadline. Let me know if you think these might work for you. Or, what else you do when you’ve got to get that project done and feel like you might not make it.
Featured image courtesy of Darwin Bell via Creative Commons.