Lacking a life vision or purpose can be at least unsettling. However, if you have a direction that you aren’t completely confident about, that is equally terrifying, perhaps even paralyzing.
For example, do you have a job that you really don’t like – even hate? I bet it challenges your confidence and you know it. But like many people, you may be justifying it with thoughts such as: “it’s a means to an end”, “I’m good at it”, “it’s just what I do”, or “it pays well”. Maybe you’ve considered changing jobs or want to go into something totally different? What holds you back?
Are you worried you will be wasting all your years of achievements and effort? Worried a change makes you less senior, less respected, less comfortable? This self-talk is triggered by fears of failure, regret and rejection.
It kicks our confidence and winds up sending fear-based neural signals into our brain stems that not only stimulate stress hormones and neurotransmitters, but the negativity wins the neuro tug-of-war with our prefrontal cortex executive functions – where all our logical, rational thinking happens.
We then only react and “feel” a career-crushing, financially-fatal mistake this career change could make instead of the potentially rewarding and fun work you actually desire.
Having Impact Doesn’t Require Having Purpose
So what’s worse? Wasting your time and energy doing something safe and soul-stripping – OR – the possibility of failing? Hello!? Reality check! Life isn’t something you can control – even with something you have experience with. Layoffs, buyouts, bullies, bad bosses, family needs, health problems, and, and, and – all make even seemingly safe jobs unpredictable and potentially devastating. The constant requirements to a ‘successful life’ are your health, integrity, relationships and happiness. Those you can more consistently control.
Truthfully, most types of change freak everyone out simply because change means unpredictability – and that fear triggers our reptilian brain to protect us from uncertain outcomes. Some of us fight, others flee. In both cases, we don’t ‘think’ – we react which halts our higher brain, executive calm thinking. Our “fight or flight” reaction prevents us from considering smart questions such as: “What’s the worst that can happen?” “If anyone can, why can’t I?” and “What can I do to make it more certain that I will succeed?”
Being self-confident isn’t about being certain about what you are or your direction despite what the dictionary would have us think. It’s about being certain of your values, who you are and how you want to be perceived as a person. Confident people act in accordance to those beliefs so they have trust and have pride in themselves. They consciously think with confidence – or more accurately: they make conscious decisions about what they think. Being confident has nothing to do with what you do for a living or even what you fill your life doing. Confidence is a keen awareness and mindful actions based on who you want to be – and being able to control that no matter what life throws you.
Your Confidence is Clearly in Your Control
Don’t let a lack of vision or purpose control your confidence. YOU can control your confidence by asking questions such as the ones above; and that fuels your clarity – not the other way around.
Special thanks to Elior Moskowitz for her research and editorial contribution to this post.
Alyssa Dver, CEO & Founder at American Confidence Institute
Confidence Crusader – Neuro Nerd – Success Equalizer: Alyssa Dver leads the American Confidence Institute which offers SHRM and ICF-accredited workshops, keynotes, eclasses and coaching certification. She received a 2021 Stevie Award for Achievement in Thought Leadership.
Alyssa also founded and chairs the ERG Leadership Alliance, the largest association for employee group leaders who are directly improving workplace diversity, equity & inclusion.
Alyssa is a TEDx and Boston Best Speaker, as well as an International Book Award finalist with her 7th book, “Confidence is a Choice: Real Science. Superhero Impact.” Her work has been endorsed by thought leaders at Wharton, Harvard, MIT, Yale, UC Berkeley, The US Air Force, The US Tennis Association, Panera, Staples, Spotify, Wayfair, and dozens more.
Alyssa teaches CEOs at Penn’s Innovation Center, advises students at MIT’s Trust Center, and coaches entrepreneurs for GetStarted RI.
Discover all kinds of practical resources including Alyssa’s blog and podcast on www.AmericanConfidenceInstitute.com.