Every next level of life will demand a different you. — Leonardo DiCaprio
According to meta-analytic data, confidence isn’t what leads to success. Instead, successful behavior is what creates confidence.
Unlike dopamine which only lasts short-term, confidence is something you own, once you’ve earned it. Short-term pleasure and long-term joy are two fundamentally different outcomes.
Once you’ve begun succeeding at any endeavor, you’ll reach a threshold where you must decide if you’re ready to go to the next level. Most people get comfortable at a certain stage because they don’t want to deal with the emotional purging involved in up-leveling.
When you decide to up-level and go bigger, your life becomes very difficult for a short period of time. You may have mastered algebra, but now you’re in a calculus class and feel completely disoriented.
Despite having a firm foundation, you feel like you’re standing on nothing, and that everything around you is falling apart.
Have you up-leveled lately? If so, this list of 13 will be familiar.
Don’t fret, you’ve been through this before. You’ve come this far. You’ve battled hard. You’ve triumphed.
Now things are feeling rough. But it won’t be long until you get your stride back. But this time, you’ll be more evolved. More able. The stakes will be higher. You’ll have more help and support. Everything will mean more.
Here’s how you’ll know if you’ve recently leveled-up:
1. Your confidence temporarily drops
“If you’re freaked-out, that means you’re a professional.” — Shane Snow
If you’ve been successful in the past, and for some reason feel derailed, don’t take that as a sign you’re on the wrong path.
Chances are, you’ve up-leveled without realizing it. Said Dr. Stephen R. Covey, “We control our actions, but the consequences that flow from those actions are controlled by principles.”
When you’ve mastered one set of principles, your life will improve. You’ll become more competent, successful, and confident. Your interactions with other people will be far deeper and more meaningful. Your social group will shift from people solely interested in entertainment to people interested in solving problems and growth.
However, once you’ve mastered a certain level of principles, you’ll become aware of and exposed to higher-order principles. Immediately, you’ll feel like a child again. You don’t know how these rules work. You’ll begin making mistakes.
Your confidence will drop. People will say, “You don’t seem like yourself.”
You’ll wonder if you’ll ever be able to feel that same powerful feeling again. Don’t worry, you will.
2. Everything will feel like it’s falling apart
Just before author Napoleon Hill’s greatest success in life, he went through several months of depression.
Despite knowing deep within himself what he was capable of, he became paralyzed and incapable. He was at rock bottom. His life, finances, and relationships began falling apart.
Once the pain became severe enough, something happened. A switch flipped. He snapped. In his own words, “I was seized upon by my ‘Other self’ ” which had zero fear, was completely clear, and operated with definiteness of purpose.
With this immediate clarity, he was able to get direct insights about how to achieve his goals. But this acceleration and advancement came after several months of failure, defeat, confusion, and depression. He had up-leveled and was facing bigger challenges and responsibilities than he ever had before. Said historian Will Durant, “I think the ability of the average man could be doubled if it were demanded, if the situation demanded.”
It took a while for him to adapt to the higher-order demands of his new situation. But adapt he did. And adapt you will. You haven’t yet risen as high as you’re about to because you’ve never been demanded as much as you are now.
There’s a fear of success lurking within you. You’re not sure if you really want to keep ascending. But you already know within yourself that you will. You’re resolved. It’s done. You know it’s happening. You’re being pulled.
3. You’ll begin to question yourself and your goals
In the midst of your confusion and lack of performance — as your world is seemingly falling apart — you’ll begin to question yourself and the path you’re on.
First, your life isn’t really falling apart. It’s better now than it’s ever been before. You’re living at a much higher and more powerful level than ever before. You’re just adjusting to what that means. You’ll rise up.
But in the meantime, you’ll question. Clarity will lack. You’ll be surrounded by fog. You’ll feel disoriented.
It’s during these moments that you’ll need to stick to your core practices for clarity. You’ll need to deepen your learning, deepen your meditations/prayer. Even still, for a period of time, the clarity that once seemed to have an infinite flow will feel dried-up.
It will be very disheartening.
4. You’ll feel alone – even among close friends
Despite developing deeper and better relationships — you’ll feel alone. The alone time you need is necessary. At the same time, though, you need to maintain connection.
You’re as sick as you’re secrets.
Isolation won’t help you get where you need to go. The more successful you become, the more connected you’ll need to be. If you become isolated, and stay isolated, you’ll lose your mind. In that case, everything will permanently come crashing down. In the words of Greg McKeown, your “success will become a catalyst for failure.”
So, take the time you need to get clarity. But be even more vulnerable and honest now with your “inner circle.” You need them now more than ever. This doesn’t mean you won’t feel alone. You absolutely will feel alone. But just like the lack of confidence, this feeling will shortly go away. You’re growing and be purged.
You’ll soon see the people in your life with more love and gratitude than ever before. Your humility for all they do for you will peak. Your joy for the little things will surmount any achievement or goal you desire.
5. You’ll feel numb to what used to inspire you
For a time, you’ll feel totally disconnected with your passion, craft, and mission. What used to keep you awake at night with excitement now finds you sleeping-in in attempts to avoid.
The external pressure feels too much. It’s harder to focus. It’s harder to get into the zone. Harder to feel inspired. Harder to care.
This numbness isn’t because you don’t care, though. You’ve advanced in understanding. You’ve adapted. You’re being double-teamed now. Your brain is being forced to deal with more at once. This is how you advance. This is how you develop deeper mastery and subconscious ability to perform even under the severest of conditions.
Seek the breakthroughs. They’ll come. The light will break through. And soon enough, it will come through with more intensity than you’ve ever experienced before.
6. You’ll start going through the motions and continue to succeed — but it won’t be as enjoyable
For a while, it will feel like you’re going through the motions. You’ll have so much momentum that muscle memory will take over. But your heart won’t be in it for a short-time.
You’ll still succeed. But it won’t matter to you, because you didn’t push yourself. Succeeding will become boring, because you’re not in alignment with your why.
You’re close, though, to reconnecting.
7. You’ll start making uncharacteristic mistakes — and you won’t be bothered
With your temporarily lack of confidence and stability, you’ll begin dropping balls that were easy to hold before.
Small things that were once easy to figuratively lift will feel extremely heavy and difficult.
Initially, you’ll be freaked-out by the balls you’re dropping. But at the same time, stability and sanity are more important. So you willing drop some pretty big balls.
To other people, the consequences seem impossibly big. But your mind has already been stretched. You have a much, much bigger vision. Although once big, these balls are now small in your mind. Your security is internal, so you know you’ll be able to solve whatever problems may arise. To quote Josh Waitzin in The Art of Learning, “Sometimes limits need to be pushed.”
8. Countless opportunities present themselves — distractions
“A ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ is irrelevant if it is the wrong opportunity.” — Jim Collins
One of the problems with your situation is that more and more opportunities seem to be presenting themselves.
You leveled-up for a reason. You learned how to do things other people haven’t discovered. You’ve developed what Cal Newport calls, “rare and valuable skills.”
Your discernment will really need to sharpen if you’re going to make it to the top of this level and up to the next. Most people “sell-out” at some point. The opportunities become too compelling and the vision fades into oblivion.
The only opportunities that matter are the one’s that deeply resonate. Stay close to people you know deep down really care. There will be plenty of people out there who will tell you what they think you want to hear. And they’ll be compelling … and you’ll probably fall for it a time or two.
But don’t buy it this time. The people you decide to maintain on your journey of life will determine your long-term success and inner-peace.
9. You’ll be faced with a crucial decision
It’s at this point that you’re faced with the crucial decision — will you connect deeper with the WHY that brought you here? Or will you succumb to the pressure?
Pressure can busts pipes … or it can make diamonds.
Here is your moment. Your situation is poised. Everything you’ve done has brought you to this point. Now is your time to rise-up or let-up.
In order to reconnect with your WHY, you’ll need to un-commit to several “opportunities” that were nothing more than appealing distractions. You’ll need to have some hard conversations with the people who matter most. You’ll need to get back to your core. You’ll need to get back to the drawing board.
It’s at this point that you can take all you’ve learned in the past and go bigger than you’ve ever gone before.
10. You’ll need to adjust — what got you here won’t get you there
The biggest fear of growth is the challenge that will be demanded. Now is your time to adjust to the newness. Embrace it.
Newness brings flow. It allows for more angles on the same beautiful experiences, relationships, and meanings you’ve had in the past.
11. You’ll need to recommit — it won’t be easy, but it will come (you can’t go back)
“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
You need to get definitive again— like you were when you first caught fire. You’ll need to get back to the beginner’s mind. You’ll need to want it bad enough to get extremely consistent again. No more lack of consistency. Now is the time to be more consistent than ever before.
12. You’ll Quickly Adapt To Your New Lessons — Growth Will Come Shockingly Fast
Prepare for faster growth than you’ve ever experienced before. Your momentum is now multiplied and compounded.
You’re no longer alone on your quest. You have lots of teammates and supporters who will help you. Not only that, but something inside of you expanded beyond the dimensions of what you could create. Now, you’re creating, building, connecting, and living. It’s a sight to see.
13. Enjoy it
Let it happen.
You’re on to something great right now. Your confidence is back.
This article originally appeared on Medium.