Experience tells you what to do. Confidence allows you to do it. And still, ever have those days where it seems like your mojo has left the building?
It’s easy to blame fluctuating confidence on chance or the unpredictability of the day’s events.
But the truth is, probably 75% of your experience of the day comes down to your own habits. The deep, unconscious patterns you’ve established that govern the rhythm of your day—your energy levels, your mood, and your confidence.
The good news is, once you realize that, you can create new habits that set you up for success.
Here are 5 daily habits you can develop to boost your confidence and improve your mood throughout the day.
1. Make Morning Quiet Time Non-negotiable
I used to hate mornings with a passion.
I would hit snooze a bunch of times, and then finally wrestle myself out of bed like an angry zombie.
I’d speed through a shower, barely getting clean, basically hating every moment.
Then after throwing my clothes on with wet, barely combed hair, I’d race through the kitchen and grab a travel mug and a piece of toast to eat on my commute.
And the worst part was, I had this constant stream of negative self-talk going through my head. Being critical of myself, starting to stress about the day. Coming up with totally ridiculous worries based on nothing.
Basically, mornings were my nemesis.
But then after a few years of this pattern, I had a realization:
Morning didn’t suck. I just sucked at mornings.
So I changed my routine.
Now every morning, I wake up without snoozing, have a little stretch, shuffle into the kitchen, grab some coffee, make it a point to not check email or to watch TV, not even the news. Then, I plop myself down in my leather recliner with a book, and I read for about 30 minutes while sipping my coffee.
Then after reading, I do some exercise, eat some breakfast, and then finally shower and get ready for the day.
I found that by easing into the day more slowly, and also focusing my attention on a book for the first 30 minutes after I wake up, it eliminates a lot of that “mental chatter” and keeps the stresses of the day from creeping in before I’m ready to deal with them.
You don’t have to read, but you’ll find that some other form of quiet time will do you good:
Try daily affirmations…
Maybe even do positive visualization around your day…
Once you develop the habit of giving yourself quiet time in the morning—and make it something you do every day no matter what—you’ll be amazed how much it will improve your mood, your clarity of mind, and your confidence for the whole day.
2. Establish a Regular Skincare Routine
As guys, sometimes we have this notion that as long we shave, hose ourselves off with soap and water, and smear product in our hair, our grooming duties are done.
But I’ll tell you: start taking care of your skin regularly, and you will really feel a difference in your overall confidence and outlook.
Until recently, I was PRETTY good about washing my face, and I’d occasionally use moisturizer. But I never really had a set skincare routine.
On some level, you probably know that you need to do all these things to your face (cleanse, moisturize, exfoliate, etc). But it’s hard to assemble your own skin care regimen if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Morning: Facial Wash in shower + Super Serum + Eye cream + AM moisturizer
Evening: Facial Wash before bed + Super Serum + Eye cream + PM moisturizer
…Then I keep the Facial Scrub in the shower and use it 2 times per week.
Sounds like a lot, but it only takes me a couple minutes in the morning and evening, and it’s a no-brainer. I’ve actually started to enjoy the routine….it takes the guesswork out of looking good.
I’ve seen an improvement in my skin. My face just seems more hydrated and has more of a glow to it—like it’s just healthier overall.
I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise: because of the regimen, and how easy it is to use, this is the best I’ve ever cared for my skin.
3. Incorporate Physical Activity Throughout Your Day
Ok, you’ve heard it before: regular exercise improves your health, gives you more energy, and puts you in a better mood.
If you aren’t in the habit of working out regularly, it’s incredibly challenging to start—I get it.
One thing that helps is to fundamentally change your motivation for exercise so you focus on the immediate benefits and feeling it gives you, rather than focusing on how it’s “improving your health.”
But the thing is, hitting the gym or working out is not enough. You have to stay active throughout the day.
A recent study showed that even if you exercise regularly, if you’re sedentary for most of the day (i.e. if you have a desk job) you’re still at increased risk of getting a disease or condition that might kill you prematurely.
One way to fix this is to find ways to “de-convenience” your life.
Think about all the wonderful modern conveniences that exist these days:
- We used to have to get up to change the TV channel, now we slouch in our couches with remote controls.
- At work, instead of walking down the hall to talk to someone, we send an IM or an email.
- Instead of walking into a bookstore, we go to Amazon.com and have our books—and a lot of other things—delivered right to our doors.
All of these things are really helpful. But the end result is that we don’t move around as much as we used to.
So you’ve got to consciously find ways to be more active. Walk down the hall to talk to your coworker, take the stairs instead of the elevator, stand up and walk around if you’re talking on your cell phone.
We’re so conditioned to the shortcut. The next time you’re going somewhere on foot, why not take a “long cut”? Or park further away in the parking lot when you’re going to a store. All these things can help you move more.
By staying more active throughout the day, you get the long-term benefits of exercise, but also the more immediate gratification of an elevated mood, clearer thinking, and a more positive outlook.
4. Do a Daily Mind Dump to Reset Your Mental Cache
Have you noticed how when you’re trying to work on an important task…
…your mind occasionally flits to something else that you need to do?
It might be something completely unrelated, like remembering to renew your car registration…a month from now.
Urgent? Not even close, but your mind is devoting valuable RAM to it, when you need all the processing power for the task at hand.
When you have to-do items floating around randomly in your head, they take up energy and attention. Even when you’re not consciously thinking about them, the brain is bothered by that “loose end”—that action that still needs to be taken, or more often, the next step that still needs to be figured out before you take action.
If you can capture these to-do items and other stray thoughts that are weighing on you, it can be tremendously freeing.
At the end of each day (or at the beginning), make a habit of jotting down all of the random to-dos and worries that are floating around in your mind.
The tools you use for this are up to you. For me, I use a combination of Evernote (for random “reference later” content), Trello (for more actionable to-dos), and Google Calendar (for simple, time-based reminders).
Part of capturing stuff is to make sure you schedule a regular time, maybe once a week, where you evaluate them and make decisions about how when/how you’ll do them, and in what priority order.
I know that sounds straightforward for things like “wash the dog,” “pay the power bill,” etc…
But often the items that are more nebulous—where you don’t know what next step to take—zap the most mental energy.
For those, I recommend scheduling a “worry session.” Simply set up time on your calendar to spend a specific window of time brainstorming on the issue, what needs to be done, and what next steps you need to take.
The beauty of this is that it concentrates all the fear or anxiety or uncertainty you might have into a discrete time period, rather than having this general unease that creeps into the rest of your day or week.
If it starts to pop into your mind, you remember, “Ok, I’m got that covered, I’m going to tackle it Tuesday at 1 PM and come up with the best approach.”
Even if there are no “to-do” items to capture, just writing down your thoughts—particulaly if they’re stressful or upsetting—can help clear the mind and make you feel better and more focused. One study showed that writing can even help improve the immune system and—unbelievably—even improve clinical measures of diseases in ill patients.
So making a habit of writing down your thoughts may actually save your life!
5. Recognize that a Full Night’s Sleep Gives You Superpowers
Have you ever run into one of those type-A people who almost takes pride in the fact that he works crazy hours and subsists on very little sleep?
They may be working a lot, but what are they actually producing more?
Productivity experts are starting to recognize that working more isn’t the answer. As Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz explain in their fabulous book The Power of Full Engagement, “Managing energy, not time, is the key to high performance and personal renewal.”
If you’re consistently sleeping fewer hours than you need, you’re asking you body to perform under suboptimal conditions. You’re basically setting yourself up for failure even before you begin.
It’s becoming more widely accepted that you get the most creative, impactful, and meaningful work done when you can achieve a state of flow—when you are completely immersed in what you’re doing, you forget about time, and you feel renewed by the task you’re doing.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m running on less sleep, I have a lot harder time concentrating. Flow is nowhere to be seen. Everything is harder than it needs to be.
But when I get a full night’s sleep, I’m rested, so I’m thinking more clearly, I’m thinking more positively and I’m more resourceful. So I feel like I can tackle anything that comes my way.
Building the habit of getting a full night’s rest is easier said than done, especially if your schedule is variable. But in general, it helps if you can give yourself a bedtime goal, factoring in the assumption that you may need another hour to fall asleep after that.
It also helps if you can minimize screen time (TV, smartphone, tablet) an hour or two before you head to bed, and try to start dimming any bright lights to help you wind down.
You only have one body. If you’re not letting it recharge with a full night’s sleep, you’re setting your whole day up to be less than.
A full night’s sleep really is a superpower. And building that habit of getting rest can help level up everything else that you do.
Wrapping it Up
Ok, I know this was a lot of stuff to take in. When you’re developing habits, it’s good to start small, and not tackle too much at once.
As a starting point, I’d suggest getting your morning routine in place, and setting up your skincare regimen.