Even the most self-confident people are not immune to moments of uncertainty, but if you feel like you’ve been facing a crisis of confidence in a specific area of your life, the solution might be simpler than you think.
According to research published by Harvard Business Review, the best way to boost your confidence, while also keeping motivation levels high and staying productive, is to set yourself up for smaller wins as you progress towards a larger goal.
Small achievements can boost confidence and motivation.
We all have at least a few long-term goals, whether at work or in our personal lives, so most of us are all too familiar with the apathy that inevitably sets in after the initial excitement of tackling a new challenge wears off.
But research led by Teresa Amabile, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, and Steven J. Kramer, an independent researcher, writer and consultant, has found that celebrating smaller milestones can put us in the right frame of mind to succeed.
While analyzing more than 230 work diaries, they noticed that on days when workers had made some form of progress, either individually or as a team, they reported being in a more upbeat mood and also said they felt more intrinsically motivated. On days when they had faced some setback at work, however, they reported experiencing more frustration, sadness and fear.
People’s perceptions of work also changed depending on whether they made progress or not. When they felt they’d accomplished something, they perceived more positive challenge in their work and saw their team members and supervisors as more mutually supportive. But when they’d experienced a setback, they felt exactly the opposite way.
Amabile and Kramer dubbed this “the progress principle,” and it doesn’t just apply to big achievements; they found that even relatively minor breakthroughs, such as figuring out why something wasn’t working, helped to boost motivation and left workers feeling more confident, happy and productive.
Take time to recognize your achievements.
The important thing is to recognize all the little milestones and meaningful steps you take along the way to ensure that your progress doesn’t go unnoticed. With this in mind, here are a few ideas for tracking your progress and celebrating smaller milestones as you move toward your goals.
- Set daily goals
If you want to keep track of your progress, it’s a good idea to break your big goals up into smaller daily goals. Having a clear overview of the smaller steps you’ll need to take every day will help your final goal seem more achievable.
- Keep a progress diary
Keep a progress diary that you update at the end of each day with details of your smaller achievements and the progress you’ve made as well as what you’d like to do better the next time around. At the end of the week, you’ll be able read back on everything you accomplished and start your new week in the right frame of mind.
- Use an app to track goals
There are a number of great apps that can help you get things lined up and track each step along the way. For instance iDoneThis sends you an email at the end of each day so you can see what you’ve accomplished, while LifeTick lets you create a list of tasks you’ll need to accomplish to reach your goals and then check off each achievement as you work your way through the list.
- Reward yourself for smaller achievements
Research shows that when the payoff for our actions is immediate, we’re more likely to stick with our resolutions. So, for example, if you follow through with your daily target, you can reward yourself immediately with something you enjoy, such as a short break from work.
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