How to Gain Confidence to Make a Life Change
Whether you're considering leaving a job, ending a relationship, improving your health, or breaking an old habit, making a life change involves a degree of uncertainty and risk, which can make it challenging and sometimes scary.
You may feel overwhelmed and not know where to begin.
It might feel like too much of a risk and you might not feel confident that you can make the change or deal with the consequences of the change.
You might be afraid that you'll fail.
So you try to find ways to put it off or avoid thinking about it, or you come up with countless excuses and justifications for why you can't make the change right now... You might convince yourself that the timing has to be just right, so you keep on waiting for the right moment.
And that all makes sense. It is wise to be cautious and mindful of your timing when it comes to making life changes, but there comes a point when you have to ask yourself:
What's really getting in the way?
If fear and uncertainty are getting in the way, you can end up feeling really torn in your decision. You might see the benefits of making the change but you also see all the challenges and potential worst case scenarios that could unfold, so you stay on the fence.
When this happens, over time you start to feel really stuck - going back and forth in your mind trying to figure out what to do - and this can leave you feeling stressed, dissatisfied, irritated, and anxious, not to mention that underneath it all you may feel frustrated with yourself for not taking action.
It takes courage, confidence, and trust to make big changes - the courage to take a risk, the confidence in your ability to make the change happen and deal with the results, and trust that it will all work out, somehow, some way.
But what if you're feeling unsure and on the fence?
How can you gain the courage, confidence, and trust that you need to take that step toward change?
Here are a few suggestions to consider:
Look closely at the consequences.
Make a list of the pros and cons of making change and make a list of the pros and cons of not making change.
Trouble-shoot in advance.
Do what you can to prepare yourself for potential consequences. What will help you navigate the consequences? What supports would you use, what would you need to know or do, how have others dealt with this? This helps you see that you can find a way through even the worst case scenarios and can help you feel more confident in your ability to deal with whatever impacts come with the change.
Step back from the situation and gain some perspective.
Ask yourself what you might tell a friend or a family member in the same situation. It’s often easier to advise and comfort others than it is to do so for ourselves.
Create a long-term vision.
Take a look at your values and long-term goals. What do you want for yourself? What do you envision for yourself? Try not to get caught up in what seems realistic right now or not. Just allow yourself to dream to get a sense of what you are looking for in life. Then you can take a look at how this change fits in with your values or helps you move toward your bigger picture goals for yourself.
Slow down and start small.
Break down the change into smaller steps and make a plan. This can help relieve some of the feelings of overwhelm that come with change and can help you to plan for some of the risk to make sure that you are being as safe and prepared as possible.
Try something new.
It doesn’t have to be big or dramatically new, just something, anything, new and different. Start with something simple and see how it feels. Noticing the rewards that come with change can help motivate you to go further.
Be kind and patient with yourself.
If you’re having a hard time making a choice or making a change, be kind to yourself. Seek understanding of your difficulties and accept them. The more you resist your difficulties or ignore them, the more they will persist and the more you will beat yourself up for not doing anything. Know that needs change all the time, and so does motivation.
Watch your expectations and don’t strive for perfection.
There is no perfect method or perfect time for change. Expect that there may be some challenges ahead and use the challenges as learning opportunities rather than defeats.
Do something to soothe yourself.
If overwhelm or strong emotions arise, give yourself a break or take a time out to take care of yourself. Take some deep breaths. Go for a walk. Listen to some music. Talk to someone you trust. Whatever you need to do to safely soothe yourself, be able to think clearly, regain focus, and be present. Strong emotions can sometimes skew your judgment. If possible, make decisions from a neutral feeling state.
Imagine what the change would look like with as much attention to detail as possible, including what it would feel like once you've met your goals. Play through the experience in your mind and really notice how it feels. This can help serve as motivation and also gets you in the mindset for moving towards change.
Use affirmations & remember your strengths.
Write notes to yourself to offer yourself encouragement or to remind you of your strengths. Or simply say supportive statements to yourself whenever you need a boost. This can help build confidence and motivation. If you can't think of any of your strengths, remind yourself that simply allowing yourself to consider changes that could support your well-being shows an interest in self-improvement and self-care which is a strength in itself and one that deserves recognition.
Ask for help and feedback.
Seek out support or use the supports that you already have. Receiving guidance, wisdom, and support from others can be motivating and help with your decision to change, but don’t expect someone to rescue you or make the decision for you.
You need to make the decision for yourself when you are ready, otherwise you will not have the motivation necessary to stick with it and you are more likely to question whether you made the right decision later on. Also, making the choice to change on your own is empowering and you can feel good about yourself for having the courage to try a new path forward.
Now, it's important to note that you might not be able to feel confident in your ability to make a change right away. It can take time to change your situation and your outlook, but it is entirely possible to feel good about yourself and your decision to change without looking back with regret.
Contact Melanie Lopes, MFT