Have you been feeling unsure of yourself recently? That regardless of  what you do or how hard you try, your goals are out of your reach? A lack of courage comes to all of us at some point in life. It invades our minds and limits us from being happy or content. And when you see others landing a new job, buying their dream home, or taking that vacation you believe is out of your reach, the pain can hurt even more. In this article, we will show how you can break free to boost or regain your confidence.

One of the biggest setbacks you may face is a fear of failure. This means that within your core, you feel that you are unable to achieve the dreams you desire. You could be giving your first presentation at work and be afraid that you’ll sound nervous and forget the main talking points. Or perhaps you’ve been wanting to ask someone out, but you hesitate, believing that person is out of your league. Instead of acting on what you truly want deep down, you repress those feelings and accept that you’re stuck where you are.

If you have endured similar circumstances, you may be wondering how you lost your confidence. The main cause is that future beliefs are guided by past experiences. If you previously applied to 3 jobs and were turned down, often you will assume that the 4th job will dismiss your resumé as well. Then, as you watch your friends landing jobs left and right, you begin to have deep insecurities about your career potential.

In fact, there are simple, easy actions you can take to completely turn your life around and regain the courage you once had. Start by looking at where you are in life, and then where you want to be. Make a list of your top 3 life goals, be it endeavors to pursue or skills to learn. From there, set deadlines for each of these goals. For all 3 objectives, write down what is required to achieve them. These can be seen as steps towards the bigger picture. It is encouraged that your actions are small, realistic goals you can work on daily. These smaller tasks can also have their own deadlines by which you decide to complete them. For all steps in the process, also list the resources you have to assist you. Just by writing everything down, you will notice that you become more motivated.

Let’s say one of your goals is to lose 12 pounds and get in shape. With summer right around the corner, you jot down July 1st as the day you will have shaved off that extra weight. For smaller goals, you can write down that in months April, May and June, you can lose 4 pounds. Simple enough, right? Now you can list resources. Go online and find a nearby gym to workout at, and use a calendar to commit to 3 days a week doing exercise. Then, set aside some time to test various diets. There are so many different types, so keep trying different ones until you find a meal program that fits in with your lifestyle. Now that you have a plan, all you need to do is focus on is what you can do today. As you can see, the power of specific, attainable goals within your control are critical to regaining the confidence you need to realize your greatest ambitions.

There is another force which can have negative effects on your positive self-perception: the power of external pressure.  This comes from the expectations people push on you, as well as the ones you create to impress others. In the process, you may become so overwhelmed that you just decide the goal is out of your reach.

How do you stay strong and true to yourself? Learn to focus on what you can control. If your boss or your clients are disappointed in your work performance, look for office space where you can have some alone time and focus on getting better at your job. Or if you are struggling to fix your relationship with a partner or family member, plan a meet up at a coffee shop where you two can talk it out. If they resist making amends, that can be hard to take, but you can leave knowing you did everything you could to make a difference.

When you take the right steps to build your confidence, you have the power to create the life you desire. It’s okay knowing that the future may be different than expected. So take the time today to sit down, make a plan, and focus on the goals that matter. When you invest in yourself, you lay the groundwork to boost your confidence and live full out.

Simon Matthews– Contributing Author