Boost Your Confidence And Achieve Your Goals

GIF of Jake the Dog from Adventuretime spinning in a circle saying "Dude, sucking at something is the first step towards being sort of good at something."
Jake the Dog from Adventuretime offers some sounds advice that just might have boosted his confidence afterwards

What difference does confidence make? Well, it might make a huge difference when it comes to actually achieving your set goals.

Numerous studies have found that you’re far more likely to achieve your goals when you believe you will. Thankfully, you can hack your way to more confidence if you’re not feeling an abundance of it right now. 

While it might seem counter-intuitive, forming advice groups can help you gain confidence. And if “advice groups” sound formal and forced, worry not! We form these groups all the time — we just don’t always call them that. If you’ve ever walked with a co-worker to public transit after work to talk about issues you’re both having or called an old friend about a problem in your personal life only to end up talking through a problem in their life too, you’ve experienced this!

We often feel better on multiple levels after those conversations and leave them with an increased sense of confidence. Science can tell us why.

Katy Milkman worked on a project led by Lauren Eskreis-Winkler along with Angela Duckworth and Dena Gromet where they asked students to type up some advice for their younger peers on studying. Even those few minutes made a difference. The students who had typed up some advice for fellow students performed better in the classes they cared about most compared to the students who didn’t provide advice.

This advice-giving improves confidence because of the “saying-is-believing effect.” Thanks to cognitive dissonance, after you say something to someone else, you’re more likely to believe it yourself. So if you tell someone they should leave a job that makes them unhappy to do something more aligned with their values, you’re more likely to leave a job that makes you unhappy to better align yourself with your own values. 

Advice groups put you in situations to give advice and boost your confidence regularly, and thus make your goals feel more achievable.

Some more casual ways to do this, that don’t involve pre-scheduling a specific “advice group” but would likely include a natural give-and-take of advice or information, are:

  • Calling a good friend once or twice a month
  • Driving a co-worker home and chatting on the way
  • Having one-on-ones with a colleague from another team that you like, either scheduled or just periodically over lunch
  • Creating a bi-weekly creative accountability group where you check in with each other’s individual goals
  • Setting up a call with a former boss that you really liked or mentor-figure

To learn more techniques to make change easier, complete How To Change in Pique!

Humor At Work Can Progress Your Career

GIF of a dog wearing a tie barking at office desk, sitting in rolling desk chair
Humans at work? Oh, you said HUMOR at work!

If the idea of “humor at work” makes you shake your head, you’re not alone. A lot of people feel that professionalism and humor are mutually exclusive. In fact, we’re trained from the first time we enter a work setting that humor is something that derails productivity. And since work is all about productivity productivity productivity, humor ends up being checked at the door.

However… science says humor can be incredibly positive in the workplace. In truth, humor makes life in general — work included — so much better and it makes people – bosses included – trust us more. 

Robert Half International and Hodge-Cronin & Associates found 98% of surveyed executive leaders preferred employees with a sense of humor. 84% believed employees with a sense of humor do better work. There’s a positive peer-to-peer effect too — humor can make our peers more likely to attribute higher status to us and to vote us into leadership roles.

It goes further than that though. As long as it’s regarded as appropriate, humor that people laugh out loud at increases others’ perceptions of our confidence and has no meaningful impact on status or competence.

And it doesn’t even matter if you find yourself funny. Researcher Wayne Decker found that, regardless of whether they themselves felt funny, managers with a sense of humor were rated as 23% more respected, 25% more pleasant, and 17% friendlier.

Leaving aside others’ perceptions of you, there are intrinsic benefits as well. If you’ve worked through some of the activities on humor at work in Pique, you probably already know that humor even improves problem-solving more than traditional brainstorming! 

So, clearly, there’s data to back up the idea that humor, when done well, can be hugely beneficial at work. If you’re nervous or doubtful, here are some more low-stakes ways that you can add levity into work:

  • Add a GIF from a well-known TV show or pop culture reference into an email, event, or slide
  • Tell a humorous story to start a presentation
  • Start your somewhat awkward team meeting by answering silly, quick this-or-that style questions at the beginning (like “Would you rather fight 100 chicken-sized dinosaurs or a really angry archeologist”)
  • Put your favorite comic strip at your desk
  • Host an office trivia session for employee bonding
  • Create a March Madness-style bracket of snacks for people to vote on for the entire month of March and then bring the winner for everyone to enjoy at the end
  • Ask colleagues in passing if they saw a TV show or movie you liked and hear their thoughts

To learn more about humor in the workplace, complete Humor, Seriously in Pique.