How are your future prospects looking right now?
Do you believe in yourself?
What do the next six months look like, how about a year, 5 years?
The level of confidence and optimism you have about your future is based on one thing. Back when I was broke, depressed, and feeling aimless, I didn’t do this one thing well at all, which led to the circumstances I found myself in. One I changed the way I this one thing, I paved the road to a better future.
It’s a simple act, really. And most of the things you need to do to change your life are both simple and profound.
Before I tell you what ‘the thing’ is, I want to ask you something.
Aren’t you tired? Is this what your life is going to be like, forever, really?
The good news? Once you figure out a way to solve this central problem in your life, everything will fall into place. You’ll feel confident in your future because you’ll have good reason to. Your confidence level will continue to grow because you do this thing, which will make doing it easier and easier in the future.
You ready for the big secret?
Ok, here goes.
You build confidence in a better future by keeping the promises you make to yourself.
Your life is a game of upward and downward spirals. Create enough momentum in a positive direction and it’s easier to maintain it. Create inertia in your life and the more difficult it becomes to escape it.
Let’s talk about inertia, the place most people find themselves in. You’re just stuck and your motivation levels are low. But why? You weren’t always this way.
Most of us start out as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed kids with big dreams. We begin to create inertia by breaking promises to that kid and becoming a disappointment to them.
You told yourself you were going to go all-in and find meaning in your work, but you didn’t. You promised yourself that entry-level job was just a stop-gap or a stepping stone until you really figured things out, but you never did.
“Eventually,” you tell yourself, you’re going to start that business, go to night school, switch careers, but you never do it. This isn’t so bad, actually. A lot of people daydream. Making real commitments and then failing to follow through puts the nails in the coffin for your future.
When you tell yourself “damnit, I’m doing it this time,” then you do actually start and quit shortly after, you’re creating that subconscious signal in your mind that you are not someone worth trusting.
You see this in the classic example diet and exercise. Each time you try that fad diet or hit the gym for a week or two and quit, your odds of ever successfully following a routine not only got worse, but you compound the problem each time making it exponentially harder to start.
Then, most people give up because they have high levels of damning evidence for why they’ll fail if they try again.
I won’t lie, the more inertia in your life the more difficult it will be to follow through. Not impossible. But more difficult. If you want to stand a fighting chance at a better future, be very careful with the promises you make and your plans to keep them.
Your subconscious mind doesn’t really care about the magnitude of the promises you make to yourself. It cares about whether or not you keep the promises, how frequently you do so, and whether or not you continue to do so consecutively.
Take the diet and exercise example again. Most people commit to an entire diet fitness plan right away — mistake. If you say “I’m going to do whole 30” and quit after 12 days, you’ll feel like you failed.
But if you committed to eating whole foods for the day 12 separate times, you’d have confidence and momentum. Then, you might be ready for a long-term commitment.
It seems trivial, but our brain has all of these ‘irrational’ mechanisms of perception. It perceives momentum as a positive no matter how small each ‘domino’ is.
Try this. Tell yourself you’re going to go to the gym, write that blog post, call your parents, record your YouTube video, research your business idea, practice the guitar, or create your piece of handmade jewelry today.
If you’re afraid of commitment to full activity, e.g., a whole blog post, commit to a time-period of activity, e.g., write for 10 minutes. If you pull this off, you can try again tomorrow.
This seems basic, obvious, banal, and simple because it is. All the solutions to living a good life are. You’re overcomplicating the process. And your elaborate planning and strategizing routines make things worse.
Minimum viable commitments improve your level of confidence in your future.
5 million people have read my work in the past year. I’ve published three books, given a TEDx talk, and make a full-time living doing what I love.
I had none of these goals in mind when I wrote my first blog post. None. I often say I’m thankful that I started writing on a friend’s blog that had little to no traffic versus seeing some ad on ‘how to become a six-figure blogger.’
I had no idea that making real money writing was a thing at all. Instead, I just thought it’d be cool to write one blog post. And it was cool. By the time I’d written a dozen blog posts, it was very cool. I got hooked into writing fast but I got hooked because I wrote something, not because I had a grand vision for a writing career.
I get emails from aspiring writers, aspiring in that they’ve literally written nothing, all the time. And I always give them the same piece of advice — write one article and see how it feels. Then, write another one.
Once you start to get good at something your scope for what’s possibly naturally broadens. After a year or so, I seriously entertained the thought of making a living writing. About two years in, I was fully committed.
But then, throughout the process, I broke promises that reduced my confidence and made it take longer to succeed like writing half-finished books and failing to launch products I said I was going to launch.
So this all works a bit like a stock, up and down up and down. You’re not going to be perfect and there will be little ‘market corrections’ but you want to avoid the downward spiral of consecutive broken promises, that’s it.
You’ll reach a threshold when your base level of confidence is so high that you’ll never quit and your level of self-doubt will drop dramatically.
Speculation doesn’t help you at all. Thinking about the future without doing anything about it won’t help you. You just have to trust that the future version of yourself will be capable of bigger and better things, which it will if you give it a damn chance by keeping the small promises you make to yourself now.
If you’ve read my work for a while you know I’m not going to promises rainbows, sunshine, and easy solutions, ever.
But if you want a little seductive carrot I will tell you that the level of goals you’ll be able to achieve in the future via simple promises you keep to yourself is insanely high. You’ll gain ‘compound interest’ in your skills, confidence, and definitely you’re income.
But you only get there by reverse engineering back to the present moment.
Do yourself a real favor today. Seriously. For once don’t click away from a self-improvement blog post and do nothing with the information.
Find one teeny tiny thing to do today and commit to it. In fact, leave it in the comments below.
Hundreds if not thousands of people will read this post, but there won’t be all that many in the comments, sadly. But you can be one of them and you’ll see how ahead of the pack you are by that simple act.
So, do it.