How to Fake it Till You Make It
Acting As If You Are Confident
Sometimes no matter what you do, it seems almost impossible to muster the confidence you need to overcome a fear or take the necessary action to achieve a goal. During these times it’s easy to feel somewhat helpless and fall prey to a kind of “victim mentality” that prevents you from moving forward. However, even amidst such times all is not lost, because when all else fails you can still fake it to make it.
To “fake it” means to act as if you are already confident despite your insecurities and reservations about yourself or about your predicament. It means acting with confidence until you generate the necessary confidence you need to succeed; to achieve your desired outcomes; to overcome your fears and/or problems; to sell yourself or your ideas successfully. However, this is not just about confidence. You can “act as if” your courageous, happy, healthy, calm, resilient, and/or successful. This process works equally well for all areas of life that you might like to improve upon.
I did, however, mention in a previous article that faking confidence is not the best answer. Faking confidence isn’t real confidence. However, real confidence takes time, patience and effort to develop; and sometimes we just don’t have that luxury especially when we suddenly find ourselves in unfamiliar situations throughout the day. In such scenarios, it’s helpful to understand how to “fake it” in order to get over that initial hump to help you create the momentum you need to perform at the highest level possible to get the result you are after. And fortunately, there is a four-step process that we will go through a little later that will allow you to do exactly that.
When you fake confidence what you are doing is essentially acting out the changes you desire to make in advance. This, of course, requires having faith in your own resourcefulness to identify the types of actions you will need to take to get things done. This by no means has anything to do with self-belief. You may very well lack self-belief, which is why you don’t have confidence in a certain area of your life. What this requires is making slight shifts in how you think about yourself and about your predicament. These slight shifts will be enough to help you “fake your confidence” to allow you to move forward in a more effective way.
The Benefits of Faking Confidence
The all-encompassing benefit of “faking it to make it” comes down to the impact it has on your personal expectations. When you fake confidence you automatically create a positive expectation about what you are capable of doing within that particular situation, which automatically makes you more resourceful in that particular situation. You are no longer at the whim of your critical voice throwing doubts left-right and center. You instead put yourself in the driver’s seat where you control your expectations moving forward.
With more positive expectations at your disposal, you naturally appear more competent, charismatic and knowledgeable. This likewise has a tendency to improve your self-esteem and self-image moving forward, and with higher levels, in both areas, you are more likely to take the necessary risks required to move forward toward your desired aim. This essentially comes down to putting yourself in the right frame-of-mind to encourage proactive action. Proactive action builds momentum, and momentum likewise builds confidence. In fact, taking proactive action in this way — as a result of “faking it” — is much more powerful than positive thinking.
People will often tell you to think positively to overcome a difficult situation. Positive thinking can certainly help, however real change only comes about when you begin taking the necessary proactive action required to help move you forward. This works because through proactive action you build momentum, and when you see yourself making progress you naturally begin to think more optimistically about yourself and about your situation. This further generates the positive expectations you need to achieve your desired objective, which of course is powerful in itself because your expectations influence your decisions and actions in a similar way that your limiting beliefs hinder your performance.
When you don’t have the necessary confidence to take a specific kind of action, that essentially means that you have a set of limiting beliefs that are preventing you from moving forward. By “faking it” you in some ways circumnavigate those limiting beliefs by working off a set of positive expectations that help carry you forward. And the best part is that as you take proactive action and develop the necessary momentum, this immediately wins people’s respect and provides you with access to opportunities that wouldn’t have been available if you had taken no action at all. And like a snowball-effect, your confidence grows because you now have new references that can be used to support an upgraded set of empowering beliefs moving forward.
How to Fake it Til You Make it: Four Step Process
What follows is a four-step process you can readily use to help you produce the confidence you need to successfully move through a difficult situation. There is, of course, nothing too complex about these steps, however, don’t let that fool you into thinking that these steps are not worth your time. These are incredibly powerful steps that can get you through some tough situations where you need that extra boost of confidence to help move you forward. In fact, these steps are designed to help you “fake your confidence” in such a way that you may very well end up wondering how you ever lacked self-confidence in the first place.
Imagine for a moment you are confronted with a difficult situation that makes you feel very uncomfortable and kind of vulnerable and exposed. You don’t have much experience dealing with this scenario, however today, you can’t just be a passive bystander. You must do something in order to make the most of this situation. But of course, you’re struggling because you have absolutely no idea what to do or how to begin. In other words, you have very little confidence.
This is the perfect moment to jump straight into the four-step process to help you “fake it to make it”.
Step 1: Knowing What You Want
In order to “fake it” you must first clearly understand the outcome, you would like to realize. To gain clarity in this area, ask yourself the following three questions:
What would I like to achieve?
What will this allow me to do?
How will this make me feel?
As you can see these questions are not primarily focused on the outcome but rather also on what this outcome will allow you to do, as well as how achieving this outcome will make you feel. This is important because by answering these questions you activate an “internal hunger” that will make it easier for you to go through the remaining steps of this process. You can call this internal “hunger” an inner desire, drive or motivation. No matter what you call it, it’s the one thing required to help move you forward. There is, however, one additional missing piece of this puzzle.
The missing piece comes down to the person that you will need to become in order to achieve your desired outcome. Have a think about what it might take to achieve your outcome and ask yourself the following questions:
What kind of person will I need to become?
What impression would I like to make on others?
What kind of reputation do I want to uphold?
What specifically would I need to believe about myself, about others and about the situation?
What questions would I typically ask myself?
What specific qualities would I need to cultivate?
How specifically would I act, think and talk to myself?
How would I solve my problems?
How would I interact with others?
How would I sell myself and/or my ideas?
These questions are designed to put you in the right frame-of-mind required to help you achieve your desired outcome. You are essentially identifying “whom” you must become in order to “have” what you want in this particular situation.
It’s downright impossible to “act as if” you’re confident if you fail to clearly identify the mindset and behaviors needed to pull this off. It’s very much akin to doing a magic trick where the performance of the “magic” is the key ingredient to pulling off the magic trick. You might in fact clearly understand how to do the trick, but if your performance is poor, no level of skill or effort will help you pull it off successfully.
Take some time to delve deep into each of these questions and identify what kind of person you will need to become in order to pull this off. If it helps see yourself as an actor practicing for a scene in a movie. You need to grasp a full and comprehensive understanding of this character or otherwise, you will struggle to perform up to the expectations required for this role.
Step 2: Taking Charge of Your Interpretations
Your next challenge is to play around with your interpretations of the situation you find yourself in.
How we tend to interpret our life and circumstances affects how we respond. In other words, how you interpret things will affect the choices you make and the actions you take within each specific situation. As such, it’s absolutely paramount that we take control of these interpretations and make sure that they work for us rather than against us.
Yes, you might very well have some fears and insecurities moving forward. Some uncertainty exists, and this can be worrying. However, this is only your biased interpretation. And because it’s an “interpretation” you can choose to interpret your fears and insecurities in another more helpful way that works in your favor. For instance, how about we interpret our fears and insecurities as excitement:
This is really exciting…
This is going to be fun…
I can’t wait to get started…
I’m looking forward to the next step of this journey…
Speaking to yourself in this way will help you to take charge of any difficult emotions you may be experiencing that might be holding you back from moving forward. However, this is only one side of the coin. On the other side of the coin, you must also work on interpreting the scenario you face in a more favorable way. For instance, instead of seeing the situation as a problem, you instead interpret it as an opportunity. For instance…
This is a fantastic opportunity…
This is a wonderful learning experience…
This is a chance for me to prove what I’m capable of…
This is a situation that I can use to help me grow into a better person…
What a fantastic opportunity for me to shine…
What holds most people back from “faking it” is the fact that too much uncertainty exists. However, by taking charge of the interpretations you make, you put yourself in a more favorable position to follow through with the necessary actions to pursue your desired outcome.
You are now finally free to “be” the person you need to “be” in order to achieve your goal.
Step 3: Adjusting Your Physiology
Free of the shackles that could have held you back, it’s now time to make some adjustments to your physiology, facial gestures, and to the way you dress.
How you think and the way you behave is very much intertwined with how you move your body and the facial gestures you bring to every situation. For instance, if you move your body with more purpose, self-assurance, and energy; if you breathe deeply from your diaphragm; if you stand tall and squeeze your fist — these are all “power moves” that automatically put you in a more positive frame-of-mind and immediately give you a stronger sense of confidence.
Equally important are your facial gestures. Just imagine for a moment doing something you are one hundred percent confident about. Not only will you automatically move your body with purpose and in accordance with everything listed in the previous paragraph, but your facial gestures will also reflect this confidence. Your eyes will, for instance, be focused showing a quiet intensity; you might have a slight smirk on your face, and for the most part, your muscles will be quite relaxed. These are all signs of a confident demeanor, and they are all important components that you need when it comes to “faking it” successfully.
Spend some time in front of a mirror playing around with your body language, posture, and facial expressions. This will help you develop a formula of what it will take to create a confident demeanor that you can use at any time to help you find the confidence you need to get through any difficulty you might face.
Speaking of mirrors; another critical component that will instantly help enhance your level of confidence and play into this whole “fake it to make it” process has to do with the way you dress. How you dress can almost immediately transform how you act and how you interact with other people. Dress with style to play the part of the person you need to “be” in order to achieve your desired outcomes, and this can immediately shift how you think and how you respond to the events and circumstances around you. It’s such an easy thing to do, and yet it can make a world of difference.
There is so much more that could be said about how to take charge of our physiology.
Step 4: Curiosity and the Solution Focused Approach
You now have all the ingredients in place in order to “fake it to make it”. You should, therefore, be able to freely bring forth a more confident demeanor through your actions moving toward your desired outcome. What is helpful though is to live as though you are already living the desired version of yourself. Therefore, you are not just “acting as if”, you are actually taking action as though you are “exactly” the person you need to be in that particular situation. In other words, you completely embody that person in every way. However, to do this successfully you will need to make a slight shift in how you think about the events and circumstances you find yourself in.
For starters, you will need to cultivate a little more curiosity. Curiosity is important because it forces you to ask a plethora of questions that expand how you think about the events and circumstances of your life. For instance, a curious mind might ask:
What’s interesting about this?
How does that work?
How could I do this better?
These questions suddenly open up a world of possibilities and new perspectives that will help you to get through any difficulties or “bumps on the road”. Moreover, curiosity leads to a more solution-focused approach. When you’re curious you have a tendency to look for solutions rather than dwell on problems. As such, you tend to ask more solution-oriented questions such as:
How will I adapt if things go wrong?
What’s another way to do this?
What if I make a mistake? What then?
With a solution-oriented mindset at your disposal, you are far more likely to “act as if” you’re confident for longer because you won’t be sidetracked when things don’t go as expected. Instead, your curiosity will take hold and you will continue to “act this way” for as long as it takes to achieve your desired outcome.
All of the elements listed within each of the four steps are critical when it comes to acting with more confidence, however all the “faking” won’t last long if you fail to take into account the need for curiosity and for the cultivation of a solution-focused mindset. To help shed some more light on this process.
Further Suggestions to Help You Fake it
Within this final section, let’s take a look at some further suggestions to help you “fake it to make it”.
The ideas presented here require a shift in how you think and approach the events and circumstances of your life where you lack confidence. Individually each idea will be of value, however, it’s when all these ideas are used in combination — that is when you will create real momentum that will carry you forward through any difficulty you might face.
Act As If You’re Someone Else
Do you have a mentor or role model you look up to for guidance, direction or inspiration? Whether you do or don’t isn’t a necessity. What’s important here is to understand that there are people out there that have done what you are now attempting to do. Moreover, these people have succeeded with flying colors time and again. They have done things a certain way and have adopted a very specific mindset that allowed them to move through the situation successfully. And if they did it, then so can you.
If you are finding it difficult to “fake it” following the four-step process mentioned above, then you might find it helpful to model someone who has been very successful in this area you are trying to work through. I’m not saying to build your identity around them. What I mean specifically is to model their mindset and behavior at the initial stages of your journey until you reach a stage where you acquire the confidence you need to move forward in your own way. This is therefore not a long-term plan. I’m not asking you to live your life as this other person. What I am asking you to do is to model their behavior in a very specific way pertaining to the situation you are dealing with.
To begin this process, have a think about someone you admire or about someone who is very competent and confident in the area you are trying to master. Now ask yourself:
What if I was this person for a day?
What if I was this person dealing with the current predicament I face?
What specifically would I do?
How specifically would I behave?
How would I think and speak to myself and others?
How would I sell myself and/or my ideas?
What decisions would I make within this scenario?
How would I approach this problem?
There are of course many more questions you could ask that are more specific to the situation you are currently dealing with. It’s therefore important to take some time with this process by literally putting yourself into the other person’s shoes and living through this situation entirely from their perspective. Only in this way will you gain a deep understanding of how to think, act, behave and approach the situation with supreme confidence.
This whole process might, of course, take some planning. However, with a little thought and effort, you can certainly uncover a formula that works for this person and that will also work in your own personal situation. Once you have the formula, it’s then paramount to keep acting “as if” you’re this person until you acquire the necessary confidence to attain your desired outcome.
Think of this scenario as an “acting gig”. You have won a role in a movie and you must now play this person within a scene of that movie. You must, therefore, embody them fully and allow their character to become part of you for a certain period of time. Then when you’re done, you leave the movie set and you go back to your own life being “you”.
Have some fun with this activity and take some risks. You might even surprise yourself with what you’re able to accomplish.
Network with Confident People
It is said that we are the sum total of our five closest friends. Therefore if you are struggling in a certain area of your life, then it is very likely that your five closest friends — as a sum-total — are also struggling in this area as well. If this holds true then you are in a “world of trouble” if you want to become a high achiever in this area.
One way around this scenario is to begin associating with people who are successful and confident within life areas that you would like to also feel confident about. The more time you spend with these people, the more their mindset, habits, perspectives and behaviors will rub off on you. This will often happen naturally without much conscious effort.
The sad truth is that if you always hang around with sheep, then you are unlikely to learn the “ways of the wolf”. And the only way to learn the “ways of the wolf” is to become a part of the wolf-pack, but that, of course, means leaving your sheepish days behind.
Keep Faking it Especially When the Going Gets Tough
Many people fail to get long-term results using the “fake it to make it” approach because they give up too easily. The moment adversity strikes they pull right back into their comfort zone and wonder where it all went wrong.
In order to succeed at anything takes perseverance and ongoing effort. You must keep “faking it” until you develop the desired qualities, habits and beliefs required to help take you over the edge. Quitting halfway through your journey will only diminish your sense of confidence. It is only through persistent effort over time will you make the necessary strides that will create the momentum you need to accomplish your desired objective.
Set Realistic Expectations
I’ve talked a great deal about how to manage various expectations. What’s important here is that you don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself. Unrealistic expectations can certainly help challenge you; in fact, they can help push you forward as long as you have enough self-belief to sustain “you” for the long-haul. Where they might let you down is the moment unrealistic expectations turn into unfulfilled expectations.
Dealing with unfulfilled expectations isn’t a problem if you have a high level of self-worth, however, it can become quite problematic if you are lacking in this area. In fact, it can harm you to the extent that it lowers your self-esteem; thereby depleting your self-confidence. As a result, you end up in a far darker place than when you initially started up your journey.
In order to avoid this pitfall, it’s important to set realistic expectations moving forward. In other words, this is all about taking baby steps. Don’t aim for perfection the first time around. You must leave room for setbacks, failure and for making mistakes. You are only human, and a human without the necessary experience — even if they are great at faking it — will make errors. It’s therefore paramount that you set realistic expectations for yourself moving forward.
What’s reasonable to expect from this situation?
What’s reasonable to expect of myself in this situation?’
Once you hit some lower targets, then aim a little higher and set your expectations at the next level. And if you happen to fail, then reassess where things went wrong and reset your expectations accordingly. I’m of course not saying to set expectations that are lower than you deserve. You shouldn’t aim for mediocrity. However, aiming to be average might be a good starting point especially if you’re well below that bar. You have to start somewhere, but it’s not where you start that counts, it’s rather where you finish that makes all the difference in the end.
Real Self-Confidence Comes with Time
I realize that what we’ve discussed here is not “real” self-confidence. Real self-confidence comes with time. It’s something that you naturally acquire as you develop new skills, acquire useful resources, gain more knowledge and get more experience. That’s how you develop a sense of confidence that can last a lifetime. This, of course, doesn’t mean that “faking it ’til you make it” doesn’t have any value. It actually has tremendous value as a quick fix that can immediately put you in the right frame-of-mind. In fact, “faking it” for an extended period of time can actually build confidence because the more you “fake it” the more proactive action you take and as a result the more skill and experience you acquire, which of course naturally builds self-confidence.
There is therefore certainly a lot of value here, however, be sure to read up on all the other articles within this eight-part series to get a sense of what real self-confidence is all about.
P.S. If you liked this post then you’ll like my books as well. You can get them on Amazon.