Confidence is key to career success. You’re not going to get anywhere without at least a modicum of self confidence, no matter how awesome you might be otherwise.
If you don’t have at least enough confidence to present yourself and get people to notice your other great qualities, those qualities ain’t worth squat.

Research supports this idea. One study at Penn State found that self confidence was the key factor to success, while another study reportedly shows that people with high self esteem earn an average of $78,927, compared to average earnings of $50,323 for those with low self esteem, a difference of almost $30,000.

If you’re lacking in self confidence, take heart. There are myriad ways to develop it.

Here are eight of them.

Fake it ‘til you make it. The idea here is that if you act confidently, even though you’re shaking in your shoes, you will then feel confident. According to psychologist Amy Cuddy our body language affects both the way others see us and the way we see ourselves. Cuddy’s research has found that when subjects adopt what she calls “power poses,” they show increased power behaviours as well as increased levels of testosterone – a hormone associated with power and leadership – and decreased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Subjects who adopted “low power poses,” on the other hand, saw a decrease in testosterone and an increase in cortisol. Watch Cuddy’s TED talk on the subject below.

Also, it makes sense that if you don a mantle of confidence and present yourself this way to others, once you start to feel convinced that you are convincing others, the confidence will become real.

Exercise. It’s not exactly breaking news that exercise dramatically improves mental health and self esteem. If you’re feeling down on yourself, go for a walk, a run or a spin class. You will immediately feel more confident.

Set goals, and accomplish them. Make a list of things you want to accomplish every day, then do exactly that. The feeling of satisfaction will be an immense boost to your confidence.

Look your best. It might seem obvious to some and silly to others, but being well groomed and not walking around with barbecue sauce on your shirt can do wonders for your self esteem. Shower, wear clean clothes, get a haircut, just make an effort and the effort will pay off.

Be nice. Don’t be a jerk. Don’t fight with your partner, don’t be rude to strangers, don’t be argumentative or take things personally. Just be nice, and kind, and generous. If you are these things, people will like you and you will feel good about yourself, both because you are a good person and because other people’s reactions to you reflect that.

Do something that scares you “Do one thing every day that scares you,” is sound advice once offered by Mary Schmidt, often misattributed to Eleanor Roosevelt. If you don’t feel confident enough to tackle big fears, make it a small thing. The big things will get easier with each small thing. And remember, bravery isn’t not being afraid, it’s being afraid and doing it anyway.

Change one small habit and keep it up. This is advice from Leo Babauta of Zen Habits. Babauta writes, “Change a small habit. Not a big one, like quitting smoking. Just a small one, like writing things down. Or waking up 10 minutes earlier. Or drinking a glass of water when you wake up. Something small that you know you can do. Do it for a month. When you’ve accomplished it, you’ll feel like a million bucks.”

Be prepared Learn, read, be ready for anything. Practice. They say 10,000 hours is what it takes to be an expert at anything. So, practice whatever it is you want to be great at until you’re an expert. I doubt you can do anything useful or productive for 10,000 hours and not come away feeling confident.