At a Moment’s Notice

There’s one thing that will make all the difference in how you respond to unexpected circumstances, and that’s confidence.
At a Moment’s Notice
Confidence is a feeling of being prepared and of trusting your ability to show up, do your best, and give what you’ve got. (insta_photos/Shutterstock)
Barbara Danza

If a friend, family member, or colleague suddenly came to your door unannounced, what would your first reaction be? If you surprisingly found out that you were expected to leave for a social or professional event within the next few minutes, how would you feel? If an amazing opportunity arose out of nowhere, what would your instinctual response be? If you were immediately taken to a surprise party in your honor, attended by all of your friends and family, how would you feel?

For many people, such scenarios evoke a sense of dread, shame, and anxiety. Initial thoughts go to the inappropriateness of their outfit, the extra weight they’ve put on, their embarrassingly messy home, their shame at having slacked off in their work, or even their dread at being found to be a fraud. They are caught off guard, totally unprepared, and feeling insecure. In short, they are afraid—afraid of being judged, afraid of disappointing others, and afraid of not living up to the standards they wish to hold for themselves.

On the other hand, for other people, such scenarios evoke a sense of delight and excitement. They warmly and happily welcome an unexpected visitor to their home; they grab their bag and show up to the event they had no time to prepare for with enthusiasm; they leap for joy at opportunities that show up unexpectedly; and they are filled with gratitude and love when the crowd yells, “surprise!” They are happy, thankful, and open. In short, they are ready for whatever life has to offer.

So what accounts for the difference between the two distinct reactions?  One might say that it comes down to confidence.

The Power of Confidence

Confidence is a sense of security, a sureness that you have what it takes to handle the challenges, opportunities, and situations before you. It’s a feeling of being prepared and of trusting your ability to show up, do your best, give what you’ve got, and learn for the future. It’s an inherent faith in yourself, in your value as a person, and in your sense of resilience.

This is a quality anyone can harness. It’s not just set aside for the most fortunate among us who “have it all.” Confidence is a state of mind that can be learned, strengthened, and continually improved upon, and it can allow one to happily and forthrightly show up in their lives and fulfill their potential.

There are many things you can do to increase your level of confidence. If you reacted with some sense of uneasiness reading the questions posed above or you feel like your level of overall confidence could stand to be improved, here are a few simple steps that may help get you heading in the right direction.

Establish Consistency

When we are not living up to our own standards, it’s often the case that our habits could use some improvement. Whether related to our physical fitness, the state of our living space, or the extent to which we are fulfilling our responsibilities, our daily habits play a huge role in the sense of alignment we feel between who we are and who we believe we should be. We establish good habits through small, consistent actions each day. When you focus on consistency of action, you’ll develop confidence in yourself to keep commitments to yourself and live up to your own standards.

Tie up Loose Ends

In addition to the little things we need to do each day are the bigger things that we’ve neglected for a while. Avoidance breeds a lack of confidence, allowing it to fester the more time that passes. Build your confidence by pushing through the resistance and handling the things you’ve been avoiding. Whether there’s a phone call you need to make, a pile of laundry you have to tackle, an overdue project you need to deliver on, or a promise to yourself you’re not fulfilling—get at it. Become the person who takes care of the big things.

Kick Comparison

If we’re determining our worth in relation to our perceptions of others, whether they be our real-life acquaintances or people we see from afar, we are focusing in the wrong direction. It’s one thing to see other people’s good examples and feel inspired by them. If you feel bad when facing others’ good fortune, you’ve gone astray. Let go of envy and jealousy and compare yourself only to the person you were yesterday. How can you be just a tiny bit better today? If you ask yourself that every day, how much progress might you make in a month or a year?

Have Faith

Ultimately, your worth comes not from how much money you’ve made, how great your worldly accomplishments are, or how popular you seem to be among society. If you are a person of faith, if you believe that you are created in the image of God, if you believe that everything happens for a reason and your life has a divine purpose, then you can rest in the confidence of your faith. Of course this is not the kind of rest that is free from effort, diligence, work, and tribulation. This is the rest that comes from being assured that you have everything you need to be the person you were meant to be and to show up fully in every situation.

Go forth in confidence to live life in the best way you can possibly conceive of living. Do well what you know you should do. Pick yourself up every single time you fall down. Be prepared. Keep the faith. Stay consistent. When the next unexpected surprise or challenge arrives, you’ll be ready at a moment’s notice.

Barbara Danza is a contributing editor covering family and lifestyle topics. Her articles focus on homeschooling, family travel, entrepreneurship, and personal development. She contributes children’s book reviews to the weekly booklist and is the editor of “Just For Kids,” the newspaper’s print-only page for children. Her website is