Boost Your Self-Confidence with these 5 Challenges

Developing self-confidence, self-belief, perseverance, discipline and other related skills is undoubtedly one of the best things you can do for yourself. It will help you in every part of your life and make you more fulfilled. In this article I’ll share with you one method on how to develop these skills intentionally and I will give you practical things that you can start doing today!

[Reading time: ~17 minutes]

Fear of the unknown or a lack of believe in oneself holds many of us back. We fool ourselves by saying we can’t do certain things, simply because we haven’t tried them before or because we are afraid to fail. Confidence is nothing you’re born with, or some kind of God-given talent. Like most things in life, it’s a skill that you can develop. Over the past 3-4 years I spent a lot of time reading about it and experimenting with different challenges.

Essentially, confidence and self-belief come down to one very simple concept: You have to keep the promises you make to yourself. It’s as simple as that. Like with most concepts that are simple, they are usually not easy. No matter how big or small the promise you made is, you should always aim to be impeccable with your word, which means that whatever you say, you will make it happen (Don Miguel Ruiz writes about this in The Four Agreements). We are not talking about promises made to family members, friends or other individuals. Keeping those is necessary too but we’re focusing on your relationship with yourself.

Let’s say you promise yourself to stop smoking, just to light another cigarette an hour later. Or you decide to go to the gym the next day but then start making excuses about why you won’t go. You might also plan to work an hour more today, so you can spend an hour more with your kids tomorrow, but you don’t feel like it and leave work early. I think we can all relate to some of these examples of broken promises.

These minor things are what lead you to stop trusting yourself. Your inner voice starts saying things like: You didn’t do what you said you were going to do last time. Do you remember? Will you follow through next time? Or are you just making empty promises?

That kind of negative self-talk doesn’t have to go on forever. You can break it. How? By keeping the promises you make to yourself, no matter how small. This is where self-imposed challenges come into play. You create a training ground for yourself where you can practice keeping your promises.

 

Over the past few years, I challenged myself many times and it has always been a great experience in hindsight. Of course, while being in the fight and sometimes way outside of your comfort zone, it will suck. Just embrace the suck! I did things like 100+ Days of Running every day, reading 40 Pages a day for 100 days, or learning a new skill for one hour a day for a set time-period. You see, the challenges don’t always have to be physical, they can also be mental. Take some time to reflect and figure out which tasks, skills or experiences make you uncomfortable. Then craft a challenge and get uncomfortable!

 

To quick start your journey, I put together a collection of 5 short challenges, that you can complete without much preparation. Here they are:

1. TAKE A COLD SHOWER

Why: A cold shower is freaking uncomfortable, especially if you’re used to lukewarm or hot showers. Plus it has a wide range of health benefits like increasing circulation, reducing muscle soreness and improving your skin.

How: This shouldn’t be too complicated, but you have a couple of different options:

  • Take your normal shower. Once you’re done, gradually turn the water colder and colder until it’s the coldest possible. Stay in there for at least a minute.
  • Stand under the shower, turn it cold and then turn it on. Stay in the cold water for 20 seconds, then go warm for 10 seconds and alternate between the two. Finish with a minute of cold.
  • Turn the shower on and turn it cold. Then step in and deal with the shock. You should try to stay at least more than a minute.

 

My Experience: Cold showers have always been something I tried to avoid. I hated it. And I didn’t know why anybody would do it. I took my first cold shower as part of Phase 1 of the Live Hard Program by Andy Frisella. The task was to do 5 minutes and it was freaking me out, because once I got in there I was short of breath and struggling. Fortunately the body adapts quickly and while it was still freezing cold at the end, my breath has turned into a deep but somewhat normal rhythm. The best feeling is when you step out of the shower and you have this tingling sensation on your skin. This was over a year ago and after over a hundred cold showers it has now turned into a habit to finish my shower with cold water most of the time.

Don’t worry, I can assure you that it gets much easier over time and you get used to it. Start small if you have to and work your way up.

I also listen to my body. My favorite thing is to take a cold shower after exercising, because the body is heated up anyway. But when I go straight to bed after showering, I usually don’t take cold showers, because it has a negative effect on sleep if you do it right before you go to bed. So listen to your body and don’t take a cold shower if you just came home from a long winter walk and are completely frozen.

Cold showers have been good for my skin, too. I tend to have dry skin and notice a big difference when I take regular hot showers compared to cold showers.

As a last tip I can recommend the 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins. In a nutshell, it’s about counting down from five and when you get to zero you perform the action you want (or don’t want). For example, I stand under the shower, count down from five and at zero I turn it on.

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