Getting to the Point of “I Can Do This!”

Before you can embark on a new project, you need to believe you can do it. In order to believe you can do it, you need have to some self-confidence. In order to have self-confidence, I think you need to do one or both of the following:

  • Accumulate small wins. Successfully take baby steps. So if you want to write a book, for example, you first write and publish an article that gives you confidence in your writing ability.
  • Expose yourself systematically to the techniques and habits of those who have already done it. In other words, demystify the accomplishment. If you want to start a company, read tons of first-hand accounts and talk to entrepreneurs to understand step-by-step how they did it. This will de-mystify the achievement, not allowing you to attribute John Doe’s success as some “magical talent” that’s been with him since the womb (a typical excuse).

By the way, self-confidence — telling yourself, “I believe I can do this!” — is only half the job. The other litmus test before starting something is, “Does this excite me?” Both must check out positive for the project to succeed.

How else do you cultivate the self-confidence that will allow you to set forth towards an ambitious goal?

(hap tip to Cal Newport for helping spark and think through this idea)

7 comments on “Getting to the Point of “I Can Do This!”
  • Ben, I was glad to see this post this morning, because it underscores the advice I’m giving – or at least trying to give – regarding breaking into the rewarding but competitive careers featured in How’d You Score That Gig? You must set up informational interviews with people who are already successful in your field of choice to learn what’s required, and you should ease into a new career one foot at a time. This might mean collecting a paycheck at your current job while doing a part-time internship in your new field or taking an adult education class or workshop on the weekend.

    Hope you’re doing well out there.


    Alexandra Levit
    Author, How’d You Score That Gig?
    Blogger, Water Cooler Wisdom

  • Received this advice from an elder entrepreneur a while back:
    “The ones who ultimately became successful were the ones that allowed themselves to be successful. This is how I did well in the multiple industries I worked in. I liked to move around a lot, and every time I did I made sure I stuck around long enough to be successful. Once you do well in one field you are able to bring that expectation into another. That expectation is 9/10ths of it.”
    I have the “I can do this” attitude, but during the long lulls where results are nay, I have to take his advice and give myself time to be successful.

  • Ben, great thoughts! It’s funny because I just blogged along a similar thought pattern a couple days ago in a post entitled, “What Winners Know that Losers Don’t.”

    My big point was that successful people understand that the gap between first and second place is incredibly small. People who have never “won” in there life tend to think of the gap between failure and success as being a giant chasm that can only be crossed by the lucky ones.

    This attitude tends to perpetuate itself in both directions with winners expecting to win and losers believing it’s not possible.

    Completely agree that one of the best ways to learn to have the right attitude is by hanging around the right people, people who consistently win.


  • Ben,

    2 good points from you. I would look at it this way..

    “First do 2 and then use it to achieve 1.”

    Keep raising the bar.

    Focus on doing this in a deliberate and cyclic way as you move forward, but negotiating situations using the learning that you pick up along the way.


  • Ben,

    Just read this post through a link from Study Hacks. I assume that’s what led you to call me, from reading my post: Comfortable with Failure?

    For me, Getting to “I Can Do This!” also required a lot of small wins, which is what my post was about, that although I didn’t necessarily win at everything that I tried, I had the confidence to give them all a go and am better for experience of each one.

    So, in my case, the “I Can Do This” was the belief in myself that I have the skills and the mental fortitude to become a solar power project developer in the utility-scale market, despite my lacking a few lines on the resume that would indicate my qualification for the position.

    Fortunately, I am proud to announce that as of today, I have an offer from a utility-scale solar project developer that is still in start-up mode and was recently funded by an industry private equity firm to join their small and growing team of developers.

    Ben I want to thank you for everything that you have put in to your blog and for the conversations we had encouraging me to start my own blog.

    The company that I interviewed with today stated that they really enjoyed reading my blog and seeing the thought processes and research that I had done. I believe it was a large contributor to me getting to this point. For that I say:

    Thanks Ben.

    We’ll talk soon.

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