Welcome to this weekly online resource. Wellness professional Jo Foster, offers self care tips through her insights on mindfulness and positive psychology, her weekly online yoga classes and nutritious recipe recommendations. 

This week we will begin considering how we can develop, preserve and enhance confidence. Enjoy!

"When the reality is clear, it brings our goals into sharper focus" John Whitmore.

This week we are considering how to set goals that lead to building self-confidence (without getting disheartened by setbacks) and a fulfilling outcome that paves the way to future successes. 

Have you ever set yourself an ambitious goal and fallen short? Perhaps you're recalling a financial goal, relationship goal (married by 30!?), weight loss goal. The likelihood is we have all set ourselves goals like this, these are the sorts of goals that are based around what we "should" do or what we think is expected of us, rather than goals that reflect a bigger purpose or overarching vision, goals that are aligned with your personal values and have meaning to you. 

When it comes to setting goals that develop self-confidence we ultimately need to understand ourselves without the distortions of opinions, judgements, expectations, prejudices, concerns, hopes and fears. In other words, we have to see ourselves in objective reality.

Taking hold of reality

Some times reality means knowing your facts and figures, doing your research and considering the obstacles ahead and resources available. If the goal is a business deal then you are on the right path! But if the goal is personal then unfortunately the data analysis isn't attainable at the click of a button. Getting hold of personal data is all about self awareness. 

A short awareness exercise

Take a moment to observe your body language as you are reading this. Are you frowning, are you drawing your shoulders up to your ears, are you clenching your jaw or gripping with your legs. If you did observe any of these physical states then keep observing them periodically and notice how the body habitually creates unnecessary tension and gradually see if you can retrain yourself to let this go.

Awareness exercises such as this are a valuable way of teaching ourselves to listen and see what was not initially obvious. The same skill can be extended to your emotions and attitudes. In the above "body scan" you asked the body, what unnecessary tension/baggage are you carrying and can you let it go?

What other questions can we as of ourselves that help us shape goals:

  • What's holding you back?

  • How does it feel when you "nailed it"?

  • What makes you smile? 

  • What comes easily to you?

  • What assumptions, beliefs or personal opinions might be distorting your answers to the above?

That last question is the toughest and most important and is often the source of helping us to really understand our values. Your values define your identity, affect how you perceive everything around you and are ultimately yours to choose. What is the point of any goal or ambition that doesn't align with your values and uphold your identity? 

The realistic goal will:

1. be based on a good understanding of your values so that you don't end up unhappy with the end result. 

2. utilise your natural strengths to overcome obstacles. Ask yourself

  • What might others come to you for advice on? 

  • What do you enjoy and find comes easily to you?

  • What routines, behaviours / actions make you feel good?

  • How can you leverage these personal assets towards achieving your goal? 

3. be honest and respectful of your weaknesses and limitations. Our vulnerabilities are what make us human, we should never be ashamed or sorry for them. Instead we can work with them and nurture their improvement, this is showing self-respect and it is the cornerstone of self-confidence. 

I believe that if goal setting is patiently developed, fits with your personal values, is realistic in the context of your strengths and restraints, then your pursuits will be liberating and ultimately fulfilling. You will be motivated, your actions will build momentum as each step will offer a reward, either in the acquisition of knowledge, enjoyment, resilience or success. If however, every step towards your goal feels like a chore, then this might be the indicator that it's time to go back to the drawing board for a little rethink / opportunity to be curious. 

Image by Markus Winkler

"Hit n Run Chicken Tray bake" by Jamie Oliver

If you're a time poor chef then this is a winner. Chuck it all in the pan and throw it in the oven. It's low in calories, high in vitamins and feels like summer on your plate!