Tag Archives: determination

Are you confident?

19 Sep

Ask yourself: Am I confident?

Got an answer?

I anticipate a few different responses:

  1. “Hell yeah, baby! I’ve got it going on!”
  2. “Um, I guess. It kinda depends on the situation.”
  3. “I wish I was more confident. I struggle with having pretty low self-esteem.”

Obviously the answers can vary tremendously, but I’d say that like most aspects of behavior, your answer for your level of confidence will operate on a continuum.

You’re likely thinking that you should be able to answer the question with something close to #1, yet avoiding what would be construed as arrogance and pretentiousness.

Research indicates that lack of confidence is actually healthy. It’s a driver for assessing your weaknesses and learning more in order to better yourself. Don’t confuse this please with a lack of self-efficacy and learned-helplessness. No, you weren’t born with your intelligence being genetically determined. Genes are important, yes. They provide the foundation for what makes us, well, us. However, it’s the environment and how we think and what we do and the activities that we engage in that unlock our genes and govern their expression.

Experience changes our brains in substantial ways. Mindful awareness exercises produce noticeable increases, for example, in brain matter density in the areas responsible for attention and emotion regulation. Why? Because with effort put toward this behavior and our attention being directed in this intentional manner, we increase blood flow to those areas. More blood flow means more nutrients and capillaries growing in those regions.

But back to confidence– if your confidence tank was always topped off how often would you be motivated to try something new, read a book, ask questions, meet people, engage in a challenging conversation, or take lessons to strengthen your skill in a particular area?

competenceIn his book, Confidence: Overcoming Low Self-Esteem, Insecurity, and Self-Doubt, Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic explains how when you look past confidence, what you find is an underlying desire to be competent. We often confuse the two concepts. In essence, when you say, “I lack confidence”, what you’re really expressing doubt about is your competence level in a certain area.

Competence is actually a key factor in our level of motivation and the determination we implement toward a goal. One of our basic psychological needs, it represents our felt sense of mastery and skill. If we hear ourselves saying, “I doubt I can do this” or “I’m not confident I can succeed with this” perhaps this isn’t negative at all, as many people would think it is. I’ve heard plenty of people comment in reply to statements like this, “Have faith!” or “Have confidence! It’ll happen!” Is it important to be positive? Sure. There’s plenty of research that shows a positive attitude changes the biochemistry in our bodies, results in improved health and immunity, and even changes the outlooks of those around us. But let’s not be unrealistically optimistic. “I doubt I can do this” gives us impetus to ask the next question, “What do I need to consider as I move forward?” and “Are there obstacles that I might encounter along the way, and how might I prepare for them?” Anticipating in this manner creates an environment that leads us in the direction of greater competence, and confidence will follow!



30 Oct

Motivation could be the buzzword of the century.  Serious. Who doesn’t hear it at least once a day? If you’re into fitness and health and you’ve got goals, you have likely thought long and hard about what is going to keep you motivated and moving toward the finish lines you’re racing toward.

Not to throw an obstacle in your path, but I’m here to tell you that as great as motivation feels, and as much as you think that it’s motivation guiding you in the direction of a lean body, being removed from your diabetes meds, developing increased patience, or learning how to more optimally recover from setbacks, for example,  it’s not the end all be all to reaching success.

A long-time client of mine was in for training just recently and after her workout stood there looking discouraged. She had just finished up an intense leg session and anyone watching could easily have cast her as pretty hard core! But what she was feeling was nothing short of downtrodden. “I need motivation…” she stated forcefully. She actually looked up at Evan and said, “I need you to motivate me!” Evan looked at her thoughtfully and said, “What’s going on?”

Frustration oozed from her. In a flash she made it clear that she knew what to do, but she just wasn’t doing it. She wanted to lose weight but wasn’t doing what it would take to make it happen.

I would argue in this case that she was motivated–she was training regularly and she had just acquired a stable job. But what she was lacking was  volition– will & desire combined.

Many of us say we want things. I want to be able to say no to food. I want to have better energy. I want a new job. I want to run a marathon. I want to visit Italy. I want to write a book. I want to …..

The thing is, wants just hang there if we do not actively CHOOSE to take a step toward them. The old saying “Where there is a will, there’s a way” is spot on. Will is mental. Choosing is mental. And acting starts in the brain.  So would it not be accurate to say that motivation is created? My client was motivated, but unless she intentionally stopped to decide what direction she wanted to go in and how she was going to get there, she’d be locked in the perpetual hamster wheel.

Motivation can elude any one of us, no matter how much drive or ambition or determination we have. I’ve been asked a million times “How do you get it all done?!” Am I motivated? At times I feel like I’m driving in a car whose windshield has been egged. I do what I do because I know that I need to, because sometimes I have to, and most times because I don’t want to bear the intense disappointment I’ll face if I don’t!

How many times have I written about how we often act impulsively? I think so I do. I want so I get. I crave so I eat. I feel so I emote. When you behave this way though, how often does it go the way you want it to? How often are your expectations met?

Your motivation level cannot be your guide for accomplishment. If it is you can guarantee you’ll get lost, stuck, and spinning your wheels. Volition, however, means you’ve got the ball. You’re volleying. You’re moving around the court, diving, passing, dodging, and assessing. You’re committed to getting to finishing the race.

What do you do when you notice your motivation is waning? And do you allow it to drag you under, stifling your will and determination?

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