40 Ways to Boost Your Confidence After 40
By your golden decade, you've earned it.
By the time you hit 40, it's a good bet you've done a lot to earn some major confidence. You've loved, you've lost. You've made some genius moves, you've made some mistakes—and, crucially, you've learned from them. But according to a 2018 meta-analysis of age and self-esteem, peak chutzpah doesn't hit at 40. No, you won't reach full confidence until 60.
Sixty years old. Doesn't that seem a little late in the game to feel like you're firing on all cylinders, living on your own terms, and feeling comfortable in your own skin? Wouldn't it be great to start feeling that way a decade or two earlier?
Well luckily, there's a raft of things you can do to fast-track the process and start living your most confident life today. Start integrating some of the habits and actions into your day-to-day and you'll kickstart a virtuous cycle of confidence that will unlock doors and broaden your horizons.
Write Down Your Achievements
Mid-life—sorry, but statistically speaking that's what turning forty is—can be our busiest epoch. It's so easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day stuff that you can become disconnected from all of your accomplishments to date. Y'know, all the things that got you to where you are. Taking a moment to remind yourself of what you've achieved to date is a quick and easy way to bolster morale—especially when you're feeling a little stale. Grab a sheet of paper, start listing your personal and professional highlights, and you'll feel like a winner in no time.
Adopt A Beginner's Mindset
If you're in your 40s, you may think that your days as a student are well behind you. If that's the case, you're missing an opportunity to give your self-esteem a lift. Try to think of yourself as a lifelong learner and approach everything you do with what Zen Buddhists call Shoshin, or "beginner's mind." By being eager, unbiased, and willing to learn, you'll be more receptive to learning new things. And remember: with knowledge comes power.
Be All About That Bass
Has it been a long time since you rocked and rolled? Well, it might be time to pump up the volume—and crank the bass, while you're at it. Listening to bass-heavy music can make you more self-assured, according to a new study led by Dennis Y. Hsu, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. "The effect of music appears to manifest itself not only in its ability to entertain," he and his colleagues write, "but also in the ability to imbue humans with a real sense of power."
Show Your Body You Care
Treat your body like you care about it by exercising and eating foods that make you feel more at ease with who you are. Hit the gym a few times per week. Then show appreciation for what you have by taking care of it with nutritious meals that give you energy, taste good, and don't make you hate yourself afterward. Thanks to endorphins, you'll run into mid-afternoon sluggishness less often, and you'll find yourself with a boosted mood, too.
Be A Mentor
You've accrued a lot of experiences and chalked up plenty of accomplishments. Ever think about how someone else could benefit from them? Moreover, have you ever considered how helping someone accomplish their goals would make you feel about yourself? If so, you may want to look into becoming a mentor. An excellent place to start is by checking out The National Mentoring Partnership—an organization that puts mentors and mentees together. There's nothing better for your confidence than knowing that you're role model material.
Update Your Self Image
Use your mental Photoshopping skills, and work on your self-image. If it's not a very good one, figure out why you see yourself that way—and find a way to fix that perception.
Join A Group
Various studies have shown that being socially active is good for health and wellbeing, but according to research by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, belonging to groups that are important to you can do even more for your self-esteem than only having friends. Figure out what trips your trigger and get active with similar-minded people.
For the all the good it's been proven to do, it's shocking that so many of us don't carve out ten or fifteen minutes of the day to meditate. Research has shown that practicing meditation can increase compassion, lower blood pressure, improve overall wellbeing, and, yes, increase confidence. The authors of one 2008 study say that the mental clarity inspired by a meditation session can help quiet negative emotions and magnify confidence and self-trust.
Adopt Some New Habits
The smallest changes have the biggest impact. Pick one to do every day—maybe it's drinking more water, or going to bed earlier, or cutting back on social media use—and stick with it for a month. Once you've hit the 30-day mark, you'll feel like a million bucks.
Get As Good As You Give
Being kind to others, and being generous with yourself and your time and what you have, is a fantastic way to improve your self-image and bolster your confidence. When you follow the Golden Rule to a tee, you'll internalize the idea that you are a good person.
In Groups, Redirect Negative Talk
If you have friends who are always talking about how much they dislike their bodies, do everything you can to get the conversation on a positive track. Negative talk about one's self is highly contagious. According to research published in Psychology of Women Quarterly, when women hear their friends complaining about body image, they tend to join in, leading to a spiral of body shame and bad feelings.
Get Smart About Your Money
Managing your finances is complex but crucial, especially as retirement draws closer. However, a 2013 study found that 61 percent of Americans could not answer more than three of five fundamental financial questions. (First question: "Suppose you have $100 in a savings account earning 2 percent interest per year. After five years, how much money would you have?" Answer options: "More than $102," "Exactly $102," "Less than $102.")
People who understand money management and have a strong financial education are more likely to make better decisions with money—and knowing what you're actually doing with your finances is a surefire confidence builder.
Get Back In Black
Thinking of adding some items to your wardrobe? You may want to embrace your dark side. A British survey found that people wearing black were overwhelmingly rated as smarter, more attractive, and more confident than people wearing other colors.
By the time you reach 40, you've probably heard every curse word in the book (plus a few that aren't). Use them! Studies have shown that turning the air blue every once in a while helps vent frustrations and feelings of helplessness, which can in turn boost feelings of confidence and empowerment. The more frequently you swear, the less power the words have, however. So save up your salty language for a rainy day, if you can.
Take Some Risks
Once you reach 40, you may find yourself becoming more risk-averse. That's understandable. You probably have more to lose now than you did in your 20s. Thing is, taking risks can result in a massive confidence boost. Once you take a chance—whether it's quitting a job you hate and moving across the world, or something a bit more tame, like going on a white water rafting trip—you may well feel a sense of invincibility and confidence.
Defend Your Honor
"Knowing that you are a person of honor and integrity keeps you on a purposeful and positive path," writes Barton Goldsmith Ph.D., author of 100 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence: Believe In Yourself and Others Will Too. Goldsmith explains that those who have strong moral fiber are generally very confident people because the foundation of their values is unshakable.
Strike A Pose
Psychologist Amy Cuddy and her fellow researchers at Harvard Business School wondered if a conscious shift to a more dominant pose actually make people feel more confident. By having research participants assume power poses for just two minutes, they saw an increase in testosterone, a decrease in cortisol, and an increase in risk-taking behaviors. If you're feeling a little lacking in chutzpah, strike a confident, dominant pose ahead of a date, meeting, or job interview and reap the benefits.
Learn To Dance
So you think you can't dance? Well, don't that stop you from taking a dance class and unlocking a new level of confidence. A study at the University of Derby in the United Kingdom found that, after nine weeks of salsa lessons, participants saw a spike in wellbeing. Researchers cite the endorphin boost of exercise, plus the social interaction and concentration that dancing requires, and the increased self-confidence from learning a new skill.
Move Your Body
The aphorism, "Healthy body, healthy mind," is old. How old? Well, it's attributed to the Roman poet Juvenal, who lived in the late 1st century. Point being, people have known about the effect exercise has on mental health for centuries—even millennia. It's just that now we know why. (Thanks, science!)
A workout floods your body with happy-making chemicals called endorphins. In the long term, regular hits of exercise-induced endorphins can make you feel more connected to and empowered in your body, which is a real confidence booster.
Own Your "No"s
Insecure people are more likely to feel obligated to say "yes," even when what they are being asked to do is going to push them way out of their comfort zone. A confident person, on the other hand, learns when to say "no" and doesn't feel guilty or bad about turning something down. According to Psych Central, saying "no" is closely linked to a spike in confidence.
Increase Your Competencies
Increase your sense of competency by taking the time to become skilled in something that lines up with your talents and interests. Maybe it's learning a new language. Maybe it's mastering a craft. Whatever! The more you're able to do, the more confident you'll feel.
Be Kind To Yourself
You know how it goes: you're your own biggest critic. Negative self-talk is a surefire way to put a big ding in your ego, so make an effort to treat yourself with the same compassion and care that you would extend to the people you care about the most. You'll be amazed at how much better you feel about yourself in short order.
Be More Grateful
Practicing gratitude is something that many don't do frequently enough, but we should if for no other reason besides it being a proven confidence builder. Take a moment to turn that gratitude inward and appreciate all of your qualities, attributes, and abilities. Recognize all that's great and good in you, and really value the incredible contributions you make each and every day.
When you fall into the groove of life, it's easy to neglect doing the creative things that once used to get your neurons. Get into the crawl space and bring down that old guitar, or bust out that easel. Artsy tasks are a great way to put the flow back into your life; creativity stimulates the brain, so the more you use it, the greater the benefits.
Comparing yourself to others is a tried and tested way to suppress your self-esteem. That's always been the case. But now, comparing yourself to others has never been easier, thanks to social media. Stop the madness, avoid comparing yourself with others, and put down the phone.
Invest In Some Personal Grooming
A sharp haircut, a blowout, a teeth whitening, a manicure, a pedicure, new digs. With any of these things, a tiny bump in mojo comes along. So be good to yourself and make an investment. Every time you look at your hands or catch your reflection, you'll be reminded of how much you care about yourself and start building more confidence.
Exorcise Your Negative Thoughts
The average person has anywhere from 12,000 to 60,000 negative thoughts per day! That's enough to rock anyone's confidence. A good move, then, is to write some of them down. It's an eye-opening way to see how thick and fast they come flying at you, and when you look at how inaccurate and out-of-proportion they are, you'll be able to purge them once and for all.
Wear A Scent
Theresa Molnar is the executive director of the Sense of Smell Institute, the research and educational arm of the perfume industry's Fragrance Foundation. Talking to Psychology Today, she explained that, when we wear cologne or perfume, it can have a positive effect on mood, reduce stress, enhance sleep, improve physical and cognitive performance, and of course, give self-confidence a big boost.
That last advantage is backed up by a 2009 study from the University of Liverpool. Published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, the study was designed to see whether applying a scented deodorant would have any impact on men's feelings of self-confidence and attractiveness. It did.
Organize Your Papers
Tax returns, bills, deposited checks, medical bills, mortgage papers. It's likely that, over the years, you've racked up an incalculable amount of documents. Being disorganized and being confident rarely go hand-in-hand. So block some time and create an organized filing system as soon as possible. That way, you'll feel confident that, when you need those files, they'll be right at your fingertips.
Organize Your Desk
You can get a confidence boost by creating a neat and organized work environment. When everything is in its right place, things run more smoothly, and you'll instantly cut back the time you usually dedicate to trying to locate something—which will give you a greater sense of control in your life. For tips on how to have a confidence-enhancing workspace, read up on these 20 Genius Tricks for Having a Perfectly Organized Desk.
Take A Hike
Feeling better about your physical appearance can be as easy as getting reacquainted with Mother Nature. Research published in Body Image showed that spending time in the great outdoors increased subjects' appreciation of their own bodies. In fact, being in the great outdoors is such a powerful experience that just looking at pictures of nature had a positive effect on self-image.
Put Flowers by Your Bed
It's a little cheesy, but this tiny move can instantly boost your mood—right from the get-go. Just put a vase of fresh flowers on your nightstand. Recent research shows that people who put flowers in their bed are more likely to wake up in a good mood. Imagine waking up every day on the right side of the bed, and what that could do to your daily feelings of confidence.
Heal Thy Self
Are there negative thoughts rattling around your head due to some unresolved events in your life? Regardless of how deep you may have pushed them down, they can keep you trapped in a cycle of low self-esteem. Get the support of a trained counselor to help you heal the past so you can move onto the future in a confident and self-assured way.
Take Care Of The Skin You're In
Many people have confidence issues that stem from physical appearance—something we have to pay more attention to as we get beyond our salad days. Use a cleanser, toner, and moisturizer twice a day. Add a serum and a nightly under-eye cream into your routine.
Live By Your Code
Determine what your values are and examine your life to see where you're not living in alignment with what you believe. Then, make any necessary changes. The more you know what you stand for, the more confident you will be.
Wear Clothes That Feel Like You
By age 40, you've probably developed your own personal style. Embrace it and find clothes that make you feel like yourself—and feel like you look good. And for what not to do, check out these 40 Fashion Mistakes You Should Never Make After 40.
Forget About Perfect
According to the Review of General Psychology, perfectionism can have terrifying and destructive consequences. It can lead to depression, anxiety, and even risk of suicide. Unlearning these habits of perfectionism will enable you to feel lighter and more secure with yourself.
Fake It 'Til You Make It
The best thing about confidence is that the mantra "fake it until you make it" actually works. You could be dying on the inside when you're on a date or making a presentation, but no one will notice if you can muster up a big smile. Eventually, all that faking it will turn into the real thing.
Use Daily Affirmations
Affirmations are daily mantras that serve as reminders of what you should be focusing on. And get this: They actually work! Is confidence your weakness? Self-image? Tell yourself in the mirror, "I am confident. I am strong. I am beautiful."
Stop Worrying About What Others Think
Make a decision to stop worrying about what other people think. Soon, you'll be making choices based on what you want, not what you think others want from you. When you worry about what others will think of you, you never feel free to be completely yourself. Being yourself is the hallmark of confidence at any age. And for more ways to feel great in your skin, check out 70 Genius Tricks to Boost Your Confidence.
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