How to Feel Confident All the TimeIf you’re anything like me, you’ve probably noticed that confidence can be frustratingly fleeting – in some moments you feel like you’re on top of the world; in others, you feel inferior, anxious and insecure.

The problem is that, while it’s obvious that confidence often seems to go as quickly as it comes, it’s not obvious how to make it stay.

How can you increase your moments of confidence and decrease the moments in which you feel insecure? Is there a way to make your highs, well, higher, and your lows not so low? How can you feel confident all the time?

I have to admit, it took me a long time to figure this out. That’s partly because the solution, at least the one that worked for me, is not one I ever would have thought of doing on my own, nor is it something that I would even have associated with confidence, per se.

But after I learned how to write a personal mission statement, I noticed a marked increase in my base level of confidence. My self-esteem pretty quickly became a lot more stable and a lot less up-and-down, which allowed me to increase the amount of time I spent feeling good about myself and pretty dramatically reduce the times I felt uncertain or insecure.

Eventually I started to notice that I was less nervous when doing things that used to intimidate me, like going for job interviews or talking to attractive women, and more optimistic about my ability to achieve my desired outcomes.

This increased optimism helped create a self-fulfilling prophecy, because my confidence made me more attractive (as a date, as a potential employee and as a man), which further increased my odds of success.

In this post I’ll explain why writing a personal mission statement can make your confidence more consistent, and provide you with a simple, step-by-step method you can use to write one of your own.

How to Feel Confident All the Time

How to Feel Confident
All the Time

(All right, fine – most of the time. But that’s still pretty good.)

How to Feel Confident All the Time

Why Confidence Comes and Goes

How to Feel Confident All the TimeConfidence comes from competence, which means you feel good when you invest time into getting good at something, and then do that thing repeatedly.

For instance, I feel a lot better about my body now than I did 10 years ago, because I’ve spent the past decade working out, eating clean and living a healthy lifestyle. As a result, I went from being scared to go to the gym to feeling like it’s a place I not only enjoy, but belong.

But no one can be good at everything. I may feel great about my ability to eat clean and build a strong body, but put me in a situation where I have to do math and you will undoubtedly see (and, depending on the severity of the math, possibly smell) me sweat.

And even in the domains in which you feel confident, you’re inevitably going to find people who are even better at your preferred hobby than you—and who may even make you feel uncomfortable, out of place or novice.

For instance, no matter how much fitness and health knowledge I’ve acquired, or how good I feel about my body, I can’t help but feel a little puny and insecure when I find myself doing biceps curls next to my gym’s resident bodybuilder.

The Real Key to Constant Confidence

How to Feel Confident All the TimeWhile your competence – or at least, your perception of your competence – may ebb and flow, there is a way to keep your confidence at a consistently high level.


By living according to your highest values.

This is a lesson I first learned from Stephen Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

The reason this is so effective is because it’s based on a choice you always have the ability to make. Sure, I feel great when I’m working out – particularly if I feel like I happen to the fittest person in the gym at that particular moment – but I can’t choose to be the buffest guy in the gym because I can’t control when bigger, stronger guys are going to arrive.

What I can choose, however, is to live in accordance with the principles I value most, which in my case means being patient, generous, honest, hard-working and open-minded, among other things. And since I take great pride in living in accordance with my values, I can consistently draw confidence from feeling like I’m a man of principle.

This idea stems from psychologist Viktor Frankl, a holocaust survivor who faced years in a Nazi death camp. In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, Frankl writes of how the Nazis took nearly everything from him – his family, his liberty, his life’s work – but there was one thing they simply could not take: his ability to choose how he responded to his situation.

In Frankl’s view, there is a small gap between what happens to us, the stimulus, and what we do in light of it, the response. Within this gap, we have the ability to choose how we’re going to respond.

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The Space Between Stimulus and Response

How to Feel Confident All the TimeThis revelation completely transformed my confidence because I realized that no matter what life throws at me – regardless of how scary, intimidating or daunting it might seem – I will always retain the ability to choose how I respond to it.

So when I find myself working out next to that bodybuilder in the gym, sure, I may feel small and puny by comparison, but I can choose how I respond to those feelings. If I respond by focusing on the size of my arms compared to the size of his, or how much he’s lifting compared to my modest sums, then I’m not going to feel too confident.

But if, in that moment, I treat that bodybuilder with respect, if I show him courtesy, generosity and the other principles I value most, then I’m no longer the small guy standing in his shadow, but a self-fulfilled man acting in accordance with his values.

Now, of course there will be times when you fall off the wagon and do something that’s out of line with your values – you’re only human, and no one’s perfect. But when you do get off track, your moral compass will help you recognize it and correct course, allowing you to still feel good about the fact that you’re making an honest effort to get better.

5 Concrete Steps for More Consistent Confidence

Write a Mission Statement the Right Way

How to Feel Confident All the TimeSo if living according to your highest values is the key to feeling confident all the time, the next question you might find yourself asking is: what the hell are my highest values?

This is where writing a mission statement can be illuminating.

You often hear about companies and organizations having mission statements, but you don’t often think of it as something you should create for yourself. For instance, on Irreverent Gent my mission is to empower guys to lead lives of strength, style, character and confidence.

But writing a personal mission statement forces you to define your values and, in doing so, make a promise to yourself that you will make it your mission to live according to those values, which, as established, will provide you with a constant and perpetual source of confidence.

Use the steps below to write your personal mission statement and define the man you want to be.

1. Choose Wise Writing Instruments

How to Feel Confident All the TimeThis may seem like a silly affectation, but hear me out. When done well, writing a mission statement is a hugely empowering exercise. It makes you feel like a strong-willed, self-directed man who’s in command of his choices, his will power, his discipline and his future.

All of which is to say: this is not the sort of shit you want to write with a Bic pen.

Writing with a proper pen makes the whole endeavor feel so much more substantial, which will further motivate you to stay true to the mission you’re committing to paper.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a pen that feels sophisticated, either. Amazon sells a pretty awesome handcrafted rosewood ball point for less than 15 bucks, which will more than do the trick.

How to Feel Confident All the TimeAnd if you really want to invest in the project you could opt for something like a Montblanc. On the one hand, it’ll cost you a couple hundred bucks. On the other hand, it would be pretty f*cking bad ass to pass it down to your son one day, and tell him this is the pen you used to plot out the way you live your life.

Of course, a fine pen demands equally superior paper; writing your mission statement in a sophisticated and substantial-feeling journal will further entrench the mission in your mind. Moleskine makes a classic, no-nonsense notebook with a Polyurathane cover and ivory pages, and Amazon makes their own knock-off version (because of course they do) which is similar but costs about 25% less.

2. The Funeral Exercise
It’s – wait for it – Deadly Effective*

How to Feel Confident All the TimeAs you sit down to start writing your personal mission statement, you’ll want to first identify what your highest, most deeply held values are. The best way to do this is to use what Stephen Covey calls the funeral exercise, a trick that’s as effective as it is morbid-sounding.

In The 7 Habits, Covey explains the exercise in detail:

In your mind’s eye, see yourself going to the funeral of a loved one. Picture yourself driving to the funeral parlor or chapel, parking the car, and getting out. As you walk inside the building, you notice the flowers, the soft organ music. You see the faces of friends and family you pass along the way. You feel the shared sorrow of losing, the joy of having known, that radiates from the hearts of the people there.

As you walk down to the front of the room and look inside the casket, you suddenly come face to face with yourself. This is your funeral, three years from today. All these people have come to honor you, to express feelings of love and appreciation for your life.

As you take a seat and wait for the services to begin, you look at the program in your hand. There are to be four speakers. The first is from your family, immediate and also extended —children, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents who have come from all over the country to attend. The second speaker is one of your friends, someone who can give a sense of what you were as a person. The third speaker is from your work or profession. And the fourth is from your church or some community organization where you’ve been involved in service.

Now think deeply. What would you like each of these speakers to say about you and your life? What kind of husband, wife, father, or mother would like their words to reflect? What kind of son or daughter or cousin? What kind of friend? What kind of working associate?

What character would you like them to have seen in you? What contributions, what achievements would you want them to remember? Look carefully at the people around you. What difference would you like to have made in their lives?

Follow Covey’s instructions for conducting the funeral exercise and write down your answers to the questions he poses above. This will help illuminate the things you value most and provide you with a strong foundation for writing a mission statement that resonates with you personally.

*Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

3. Who do you admire most?

How to Feel Confident All the TimeNext, make a list of the people you admire most in the world.

And I’m not just talking about celebrities whose style or charisma you want to emulate, but the people in your life who have had the biggest impact on you and your perception of the world.

Write down each of their names, and then think deeply about why you admire them so much. What have they done to make such a strong impact on you? What characteristics or traits do they have that you so respect? Beneath each name, write down three reasons you respect them.

To give you an example, one name near the top of my list is my grandfather, Angelo Longo. Obviously everyone loves their grandpa, but among many other reasons, I respect mine because:

  • He’s an entrepreneur who started his own successful business, and spent his whole life working his ass off to give his family a better life than he had
  • He’s generous with both his time and money, and he thinks about others as much as he thinks about himself
  • As hard as he works, he also appreciates the lighter side of life and loves to tell stories, crack jokes and enjoy time with his family and friends

Perform this exercise for yourself and write down the traits you most admire.

4. Compile Your Components

How to Feel Confident All the TimeAfter the two exercises above, you should have a strong sense of the principles and attributes you value most. Now it’s time to start applying them to your own life.

Start a fresh page of your notebook and on the top line write “I am a man who…”

Then flip back and, starting from your answers to the Funeral Exercise, review each of the values you’ve identified as being most important to you. Write down each one beneath the sentence stem “I am a man who…” in order to apply those values to you and your life.

Writing Tip:

Try to stay away from using the verb “to be” as much as you can and write in an active voice, which will encourage you to take action on your values.

For instance, if you’ve identified generosity as one of your most important virtues, don’t write “I am a man who… is generous.” Instead, use the active voice and elaborate on what generosity means to you, e.g. “I am a man who gives generously of himself. I lend my time, empathy and energy to the people in my life and my money to causes I support.”

Repeat this with each of the values you identified in both the Funeral Exercise and the list of people you admire and want to emulate.

5. Round Out Your List

Once you’ve completed Step 4, take a day or two away from your list.

When you return to it, read it over and ask yourself: what did you miss? Are there any values, virtues or principles that are important to you, but that you somehow missed? If so, add them in now to make sure your mission statement is a complete list (or as complete as possible, anyway) of the man you want to be.

Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It

Live in a Manner That’s Consistent with Your Values – and Your Confidence

How to Feel Confident All the TimeBy committing your values to paper you’ve created a comprehensive personal mission statement that fully reflects the man you most want to be.

The good news is that now that you’ve done it, you’ll never have to do it again. Of course, as you continue to grow in your personal you may find that your values change and evolve, so it might be worth reviewing, editing or adding to your mission statement once a year or so to make sure it’s up to date, but you’ll never need to start from scratch (unless you really want to).

And now that you’ve crystallized the man you want to be in your mind, you have a go-to reference that you can use when you need to make a tough decision, accomplish something difficult or face something daunting.

I don’t know if it’s possible to feel confident all the time, but with a tool like that at your disposable, I think you can get pretty damn close.

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