Want To Build Confidence: Do Hard Things

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You know what’s hard? Posting pictures of yourself with bed head. :)

A few mornings per week I set my alarm for a little bit of an ungodly hour. I wake up. I write. I feed the dog. If he’s lucky he gets brushed and then I grab breakfast and head to work. Some days I get crazy and throw in a load of laundry. Morning is an important time in my house because it is definitely when I feel most productive. But I know this about myself, so I harness that — even when I don’t really feeeeeeeeeeel like getting up early.

Each month I set intentions. Sometimes by the end of the month I find them annoying and wonder to myself “Why did I even set out to do that in the first place?” Sometimes I high five myself for productivity. But having sat down and thought about what I wanted for the month gives me a road map. A compass of sorts. That list doesn’t get things done for me, but it does reminds me of what I really want. And sometimes it is hard to remember amidst the din of everyday life.

4 to 5 afternoons per week I lace up my sneakers after work and head over to American River CrossFit. The workouts are intense, heck, sometimes they even border on torture — but it’s temporary torture. The results, however, are not temporary and that is why I keep going back. Sure every once in a while when I get out of my car I think “Why I can’t just go hop on an ellipitical and watch the Food Network while on auto pilot and call it a day?” But I know myself and I know that for me, part of getting healthy is really KNOWING what my body can do. So I walk into that gym even when it feels difficult.

Some months I do nutty things that rub right up against the boundaries of my own happiness. But like my favorite T.S. Eliot quote says “Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” Despite people telling me I am whacky (confirmed: I am. I’ll admit it) I continue to do it. I document my life in public on this site. I throw in a nutritional challenge here and there. I do crazy experiments with my skin care. I make an arbitrary goal to post a certain number of recipes. I run a half marathon when I know I don’t reeeeeeeeeeeally have time to train. I know these things will be tough, but that is precisely why I do them.

When Garrett says, “Holly, let’s just be normal for a bit.” I always entertain this idea. Sometimes I entertain it because in the moment not pushing myself sounds really good. I even sometimes question myself during these moments — am I doing more harm than good? And that is a good question to continually ask if you are a person like me because sometimes things don’t just feel hard, they are hard. Challenging yourself and pushing your limits is great, but in the end nobody gets a medal for having a dramatic life. There is a difference between doing hard things as a challenge and letting things become hard due to poor time management or filling your plate too full.

But ultimately doing hard things is worthwhile, and I always *highly* recommend it to others. An easy life is a good life too, I’m sure. But here is the thing about committing to hard: when you finish, there is a very particular feeling. A good feeling. And it is a feeling that you won’t get if someone just hands you something. This feeling you get is that nothing is insurmountable. This feeling you get is that your skills have risen to the challenge. And they have. This feeling you get is confidence. And confidence is a need to have, not a nice to have. And while it is well within your reach, you can’t just pick it up on the Clearance End Cap at Target. You have to work for it.

But it is worth it.

Confidence comes from having experiences. Confidence comes from being well prepared. Confidence comes from being completely UN-prepared, scrambling to get through, and knowing that you don’t want that to happen again. Confidence comes from knowing yourself. Confidence comes from stretching yourself outside of your comfort zone and succeeding anyway. I don’t always KNOW I can do things, but in my heart of hearts, I always know that I can try. And if I try, there are only two possible options: I will either succeed or I will gather more information for my next attempt. Either way I’m moving forward, and to me that’s a win. And the best part? Building confidence doesn’t have to start with a long list of Stuff To Do. Sometimes it just starts with a thought. I’m a firm believer that what we think is what we become.

So what are YOU thinking about today?

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10 comments to Want To Build Confidence: Do Hard Things

  • danielle
    November 12, 2012 at 6:43 am

    this is so true! sometimes if we don’t challenge ourselves, we don’t know how awesome we really are.

  • Caity @ Moi Contre La Vie
    November 12, 2012 at 6:51 am

    Such a great post! We are very similar in our OCD approach to lists and goal-setting, and I also often wonder why I push myself so hard and whether it’s worth it. And I came to the same conclusion that you did – It’s worth it because you learn more about yourself by pushing your limits than you will just coasting along. You learn who you really are and what you’re capable of. And that feeling is priceless! (cue the mastercard commercial..)

  • Amanda
    November 12, 2012 at 7:43 am

    Dude. Super needed that this morning! Waking up at an ungodly hour to learn new things and do hard work is a good thing. Yay for positive reframing in my grouchy brain!

  • dana
    November 12, 2012 at 7:43 am

    totally agree! i randomly push myself to do things too, juuust to see if i can handle it. yesterday i ran a half marathon (your post totally helped give me an added boost!) because i wanted to see if i could really do it. added bonus: i beat my army SF husband :)

    side note: i can totally tell where you work cause i used to work in the home office and it looks EXACTLY the same! plus some of your wording (exceeds/achieves, etc.) makes me miss my old jobby!

  • Abby
    November 12, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Excellent! I just read this aloud to my husband, and he said “sounds like you!” That made me proud to hear, because even though I don’t know you Holly, when I read this article – I felt proud of you <3

  • Eva
    November 12, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Nice post! That sounds like me! I am always setting myself goals. Sometimes i push myself too far and then i get sick or really REALLY tired. And then i think ‘i quit setting myself goals’… and find myself with new goals a few weeks later. It makes me feel alive…

  • Sharon
    November 12, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    Fantastic post today Holly! What a great reminder that we are in the driver seat. We can either allow life to happen to us or we can go out in the world and create it….. It’s always a choice we make each and everyday.

  • Mariah B
    November 12, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Phenomenal. I love the way you think. :

  • sizzle
    November 13, 2012 at 8:44 am

    I agree with you. Whenever something is handed to me, I don’t appreciate it as much as I would if I had worked hard for it. For a while I think I was too hard on myself, too structured, too planned out and I’ve been trying to be softer with my approach. It’s just second nature to me to plan things out in minute detail and check things off a list. I feel like I am boring or a slacker if I don’t have goals or plans. My husband is quite the opposite so this makes for an interesting pairing. ;-)

  • It’s-No-Longer-The-Weekend Links | Crafty Sheep
    November 19, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    […] anything that I usually talk about, but it’s a great read. Holly has really solid advice about building confidence by doing hard things. Stretch that comfort zone! […]

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