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To Massively Increase Your Confidence, Plan to Spend Your Time Constructively Replace something you do every day you don't want anyone to know about with one thing you've been putting off longer than you want anyone to know and your confidence will soar.

By Dan Dowling Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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A friend asked me if I was planning to write a book and what I would write it on. Confidence, I replied. And I went a step further by telling her what the contents of the book would be: the word confidence, multiplied 500,000 times. Nothing but confidence.

I don't think you'd find a redundancy in all 500,000 words because confidence is that important. Without it, you automatically settle for mediocre jobs and relationships; and you give yourself 500,000 excuses for not living out your dreams. Considering how crazy-awesome life can be, that's insane. Especially when you plan to make a difference to others as an entrepreneur.

So you have two options: One, keep comfortable in your low-confidence lifestyle, make no drastic changes and continue settling or, two, make a massive effort to increase your confidence-boosting behaviors while limiting your confidence-shrinkers so you can live out your purpose.

If option number two sparks a fire in your heart, then read on for five strategies that will make you confident and successful today. Most of these action steps involve the use of a daily planner, which is nothing more than a blank-paged journal you fill with daily goals. So grab a planner and a pen and get ready to learn!

Read: Be a Better Leader: Build Confidence With Open Communication

1. Attack your procrastinations

When you procrastinate, unfinished tasks keep piling up (and up and up) until you feel impotent just thinking about things you should be doing. That's confidence killer #1. But you can solve that with a weekly procrastination list.

All you have to do is brainstorm the top five procrastinations you should definitely take care of. Do this on every Sunday, before the week starts and keep it on your weekly planning page. Reflect on that weekly list each morning of the week and select just one backburner project for the day. Regardless if it's getting the dog neutered, drafting a proposal, cutting the weeds or hiring someone to modify your website, you will engender a new "I get stuff done" identity. That's how confidence is born.

Seriously, tackling one procrastination per day is all you need. Jerry Seinfeld became a famous comedian by coming up with just one good joke per day. You will become famously confident by attacking one procrastination goal per day. Just make sure to plan it.

Related: 4 Reasons People Procrastinate and a Cure for Each One

2. Stop with the zero-value activities.

Confidence is a product of time well spent. So when you do things you love, or learn something, or follow your passions, you build up confidence. (I know, it's rocket science, right?) But it's a scientific fact that you can't do those confidence-builders when your time is occupied by low-value and unconscious habits:

  • Like watching TV
  • Flirting on Tinder
  • Creeping on Facebook
  • Mindlessly surfing the Internet
  • Reflexively checking your messages
  • Drooling at porn
  • Chatting with negative people
  • Binging on Netflix
  • Partying on the weekends/beers after work
  • Or even clicking through self-improvement article after article.

These things don't give you confidence, they prevent you from building your confidence. So decide today which five low-value habits you're going to eliminate or reduce this week and write them down go on your weekly planning page. Consider it a mental fast. Then reflect on your weekly not-to-dos each morning in order set concrete goals in your daily planner:

No Facebook? No TV? No Instagram?

Some distractions, like email and texts, cannot be quit altogether so reduce them by planning on doing several hours of creative work and self-improvement before you check them. Limit your daily checks to no more than four times per day. My clients are routinely amazed at how much better they feel by cutting out the junk, and how little they miss those things. So try it out today. Be confident.

Related: 6 Realistic Tips For Disconnecting and Regaining Your Sanity

3. Always have something to do

It doesn't matter whether you're a millionaire business owner or a waiter struggling through college, if you don't have exciting and constructive things to do, you won't feel purposeful or confident. The simplest fix is to always have something to learn, something to perfect, something to accomplish or simply something to enjoy.

So plan out plenty of career, fitness and self-improvement goals to populate your weekly planning page. When you see a big list of potential accomplishments first thing in the morning, you feel confident just knowing that you know what you're going to do!

Last but not least, make sure to schedule plenty of fun throughout the week -- like dancing, skating, surfing, hiking, riding bikes, playing basketball, soccer or volleyball; arts and crafts, traveling, painting, taking a guitar or drum lesson, taking a tour, taking a day trip to a nearby outdoor destination, going to a museum, rock climbing, yoga, acro-yoga, scheduling a massage, organizing a friend date for lunch or dinner, going to church, swimming, planning time to read your favorite new book, hiring a mentor, singing, acting, planning game night for your friends, etc.

You get the idea.

Every day should incluse something fun. Every weekend should have something bigger. And it's your responsibility to make these things happen, otherwise you'll continue feeling small, boring and unloved. Plan out the week ahead every Sunday -- career, fun/self love, health/fitness, procrastinations and giving goals. Then reflect on your weekly plan every morning to pick out what you'll actually do over the next 16 hours.

Plan for the most confident version of you possible.

Related: A Look at the Demanding Schedule of Elon Musk, Who Works in 5-Minute Slots, Skips Breakfast and Avoids Emails

4. Break your addictions

Telling yourself daily "I'm too weak to make a better decision" saps your confidence. But that's exactly what you're telling yourself when you give into addiction. Whether it's smoking, pot, alcohol, porn or even toxic relationships, it's your responsibility to end the habits that reduce your confidence and that keep you locked in "little me" status. Enlist the help of an accountability buddy or coach to dramatically increase your odds of a successful lifestyle change.

Related: Why an Accountability Buddy Is Your Secret Weapon for Faster Growth

5. Set bite-size goals for quitting.

Instead of eating the elephant in one day, which historically only works for T-Rexes, start quitting day-by-day. Set specific goals in your daily planner for not doing the thing you struggle with: "don't drink, don't smoke," etc. Put a fat checkbox next to this "not-to-do" goal, and strike it off at the end of a successful day, making sure to give yourself plenty of encouragement for making good decisions. Having this reminder of your intention in a daily planner really helps the decision-making process.

When you've gone strong for a week, write out a not-to-do goal for one whole week. When you've finished two consecutive weeks, be ambitious and write out a goal for one whole month. Then after that, do another. Then after that, do a quarter of a year; then a half year -- which will be a full year. Then do another year. Voila: you've quit.

Related: Forget Big Goals. Take Baby Steps for Small, Daily Wins.

6. Self encouragement

Lack of encouragement is one, big thing keeping many people from a successful quit, so plan on giving yourself encouragement throughout the day. So set five daily reminders on your smart phone or computer to encourage yourself and appreciate your efforts.

"Thank you so much! You're doing an awesome thing, and I respect your decision. Thank you for giving me my confidence back."

To make the goal even more concrete, write out 10 checkboxes next to "encourage yourself!" in your daily planner. Then, when you've accomplished a goal, or have simply become conscious of a bunch of unchecked encouragement boxes, applaud your efforts, affirm your worth and repeat empowering mantras. Experiment with that kind of self-coaching and watch how easy it is to make good, confident decisions.

Related: 10 Ways to Stay Motivated as an Entrepreneur

7. Go out and help someone.

Helping others reminds you that no matter how low you feel, you actually are capable of making a difference, which we tend to forget when wallowing alone in self-pity. So schedule volunteer hours and donation into your every week. That's the "I shall not live in vain" stuff that Emily Dickenson talked about, which is confidence in the bank.

Pick the activities that suit you best—whether that's working at a soup kitchen, preparing "dignity packs" for the homeless (as some of my clients do), holding newborn babies at a hospital, beautifying your local parks and green spaces, shelving books at a library, mentoring a younger person, or teaching a valuable skill to someone who needs it.

You know you best, so pick the thing that speaks to your heart. And if you don't know what that thing is yet, pick anything. Plan for it during your Sunday weekly planning routine and schedule these giving activities into your week. Your unshakeable confidence depends on it.

Feeling confident is a must when it comes to living out your dreams. But when you've gone months or years in a confidence drought, you have to force yourself to fill your life with high-value activities and to reject low-value habits despite how you feel. The first week will be hard, like anything. But you'll regain the feeling of confidence in the first day when you commit to your massive-action plan. And by the end of the first month, you'll be thinking smarter, walking taller and committing fully to the lifestyle you know is best. You'll actually be confident--which makes you successful.

Dan Dowling

Solopreneur, writer, and coach

As a former couch-surfing millennial turned solopreneur writer and coach, Dan Dowling writes on personal development. Visit MillennialSuccess.io and learn how to create your own solopreneur success story.

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