We’ve all started things that we didn’t feel fully prepared for. Whether it’s a new job or a project you’ve been planning for months, it’s common to feel like you’re not ready or even not the right person for it.

Man-reading-a-book

Many entrepreneurs have felt this way at the beginning of their journey. Richard Branson dropped out of school to start companies and charter planes he didn’t have the money for yet. Sara Blakely set out to create her first shapewear company without an ounce of sales or marketing experience. They and countless other entrepreneurs fit the wise old saying, “successful people start before they feel ready.”

It’s not easy, but you can reach your own definition of success too, even when you feel like a failure waiting to happen. Here are a few proven ways to boost your confidence and set yourself on a course to make big things happen.

Prepare what scares you the most

We fear what we don’t know. If your knowledge is scarce on an upcoming task, you’re going to feel like you’re not ready to tackle it.

Before billionaire Mark Cuban launched his first company, he devoured manuals, books, and every magazine on technology he could find. “I tell people all the time, the one thing in life you can control is your effort,” Cuban says in a blog post.

If you’re drowning in feelings of inadequacy, pluck up the effort to learn more about what worries you the most. Watch videos, read books, check blogs on other people’s experiences, talk to people who have done it before. Once you know more about it, you’ll find that you feel much more capable to take on the challenge yourself.

Although be careful not to overdo it. Preparation can easily slip into procrastination or “analysis paralysis,” where you’re so busy overthinking that you never actually take action. Set a reasonable timeline for yourself and make sure you stick to it.

Take note of your achievements

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When you’re plagued with perfectionism, impostor syndrome, or just nagging anxiety, it’s easy to brush off your successes as insignificant or “just luck.”

This is why it’s so important for you to take note of your wins, no matter how small they may be. It could be a compliment someone made about your work, a review from a former co-worker, or a personal goal you achieved in the past.

Make a list of them and hang it up where you can always see it. Whenever you feel that sinking feeling in your stomach and start thinking about how you’re not good enough, read that list and remind yourself that you are.

Reframe your mindset

There’s always a way to turn a negative thought into a positive one. Instead of, “I don’t know how to do this,” think to yourself, “I don’t know how to do this yet.”

When Elon Musk started SpaceX, he was clueless in many areas surrounding aerospace engineering. So he called in the experts and tried to learn everything he could from them. He asked questions, took notes, and recalled them if he needed more information. This drive to continuously learn is one of the reasons Musk has gone so far in life.

So take the pressure off by reminding yourself that it’s impossible to know everything and all you can do is keep learning. Every new opportunity is a chance to learn something. Everyone starts somewhere. There is an African proverb that reads,

“If you wish to move mountains tomorrow, you must start by lifting stones today.”

Strike a power pose

Man-standing-in-a-power-pose-on-the-street

This is an odd one, but it’s a known fact that important figures must be mindful of their body language when in the public eye. Imagine if the president gave a speech with his arms crossed while staring at his shoes. Not really the confident leader you want to see, right?

In a TED Talk, Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy detailed the benefits of “power posing,” or changing your body language in ways that can make you feel more confident.

From politicians to Oprah, you don’t have to look far into their photos to see a pattern in how they position their bodies to appear firm and powerful. One pose that pops up often is the famous “superhero pose,” where you stand tall with your chest out and your hands on your hips. Doing this for just two minutes every morning can set a more confident tone for your entire day.

You can also tweak your body language in more subtle ways while at work or in a meeting. Avoid crossing your arms, keeping your head down, or hunching over. The more you spread yourself out, the more empowered you’ll feel. Keep your body language open and confident to nudge yourself into feeling the same way.

Understand that mood follows action. The way to change your mental and physical state is to take the action first, not wait for your emotional state to change first.