Do you have the sneaking suspicion (or worse, the strong conviction) that you don’t have what it takes to succeed?

One of the things that holds many people back from achieving their goals is the belief that they are somehow lacking in a particular skill or ability and, as a result, won’t be successful. That self-doubt and lack of confidence can affect you in at least 2 ways:

  • First, a lack of faith in your abilities will likely lead you to avoid taking action that might help you achieve your goals. When you’re feeling unsure, it’s easier to do nothing and stay “safe” than to run the risk that you will fail.
  • Second, confident lawyers inspire confidence in others, including employers, adversaries, clients and judges; on the contrary, those who don’t project self-assurance are often disregarded or passed over for opportunity. Unfortunately, that results in a vicious self-fulfilling cycle in which you “prove” to yourself that you won’t, in fact, get where you want to go.

Making the effort to transform self-doubt into self-confidence, then, is an important task to undertake. But how do you go about doing that? How can you change your self-defeating thought process and become more self-assured?

One option is to look to the past. That’s where you’ll find evidence to contradict your self-doubt.

Make a written list of your achievements no matter how large or small, including things you are proud of both professionally and personally. To help jog your memory and expand your definition of “achievement,” consider the following list of verbs. When have you had the opportunity to do one or more of the following? Advise, build, create, develop, encourage, fix, guide, handle, influence, join, keep, listen, manage, navigate, optimize, participate, question, rejuvenate, support, teach, unite, volunteer, write, or yield. The possibilities are endless.

Looking at your achievement list (and giving yourself an appreciative pat on the back) will help remind you of all you have accomplished, often in the face of considerable roadblocks. Your list is the proof that you had the ability to surmount those obstacles and predicts that you will prevail over future stumbling blocks, as well.

Identify in writing the qualities and actions that have allowed you to pursue and create success (even at times when you weren’t so sure you could do it). Include your strengths and the personal characteristics you admire about yourself, for example, warmth, resilience, tenacity, passion, open-mindedness and conviction. Be generous with your praise – don’t minimize the importance of the unique attributes you have capitalized on to get where you are today.

Examine the situation that is causing you to feel unqualified or ill-prepared, and consider how the qualities you possess and the outcomes you have achieved in the past can serve as a springboard for tackling the situation at hand. What’s worked for you in the past? How have you gotten beyond your hesitation before? How can you apply those strategies to the current situation?

Remember the following truths:

  • Everyone has self-doubts from time to time, even those who appear successful and seem to have it all figured out. Don’t buy into the notion that “the grass is always greener” and unfavorably compare yourself to others.
  • There’s no such thing as perfection, so don’t beat yourself up if you don’t routinely spring out of bed in the morning with superhero-level confidence. The goal is not to be flawless, but to reduce your anxiety and discomfort so that you can realize your goals.
  • Cultivating a success mindset – and the increased confidence that can come along with it – is a continuing process that doesn’t happen overnight but a worthwhile endeavor nonetheless. Stay the course.

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