Creating Confidence for Action-- One Step at a Time!

Below is an updated post from a few summers back with a message that seems just as fresh to me now as then— about how useful it can be when making career and life changes to remember what it's like to be on holiday, just doing what you want to do, whatever interests or excites you, one thing at a time….

I'd just returned from a wonderful trip to Tuscany with my extended family of friends from Sweden and England, including my two goddaughters, all living together in an old country house a little north of Pisa. Living together for a couple of weeks in a relaxed style in the foothills of the Alps brought home to me the great quality about vacations, which is-- no matter how easy-going or strenuous they are, they let you live with growing confidence and fulfillment while doing just one thing at a time. You may be mountain climbing, sightseeing, writing a novel, or cooking pizzas in an Italian bread oven, but whatever you’re doing, that’s it. Just one thing at a time.

Though it seems counter-intuitive, limiting your action to one thing at a time can be a very effective approach for change-making when you're feeling tense and uncertain, when you want to act more confidently, and with greater ease. Give yourself some time out to deeply relax inside.
Feel your feet on the ground and take several deep breaths in and out from your belly.  When you feel calmer, choose one action step that calls you, and give this your full attention.  Now you are setting the ground for following this new direction with a sense of purpose, power, and enjoyment.

In my book, Success with Soul— Loving Your Livelihood, Living in Balance, I use the following metaphor about learning to dance to explore the process of building your confidence by taking just one energizing action step forward:

Stepping into the dance of self-confidence is much like being asked to step onto the ballroom floor by (you hope!) a skilled and passionate dancer who is happy to guide you through new steps.

What does it take on your part? Excitement about getting into the rhythm of the music…A willingness to be challenged…A willingness to be supported in learning the steps.


What will you get by stepping into the dance? The joy of a new freedom of movement…A new sense of relationship to dancing…Connection to other dancers…Finding out how much more you can do when you have support…Feeling your inner knowing as you integrate the steps of the dance into a flow of rhythm and movement…Readiness to embrace new challenges.

As another example, I was coaching a man in his fifties who was in transition from his engineering career, and struggling with all he had to do, as he saw it, to get his new business under way. He felt tense and exhausted, seeing no end to his to-do list-- and no way to have a balanced lifestyle either, with an intimate relationship, recreation, or just time off for himself.

So I challenged him to put on the back burner five items from his list for a month, and then choose one new action step to take. For a few minutes, he was appalled, feeling that his life now would have no structure and that everything would simply fall apart. Then he re-examined his list and noticed that he didn’t really need to create a new page for his website or even start a blog. What he really wanted to do was begin to establish some ne
connections with possible partners for his business venture. Suddenly, he felt energy rush through his body and a sense of possibility! He also felt renewed enthusiasm for reaching out for a relationship on an e-dating site.

All of which brings me to a post, “Just One Thing,” that I receive from Rick Hanson, neuropsychologist and author of Creating a Buddha Brain: One Step at a Time. I love his ongoing suggestion that we can make powerful, positive changes to our outlook on life and in the actions we take by approaching every challenge one step at a time. I know now, from my own experience and that of others, that this approach really works!