“I need to increase my self-esteem” is a statement I hear often from my students. Their belief is that once their self-esteem is higher, they’ll be able to achieve more and become greater successes.

While it’s true that a high self-esteem can assist you in creating the life you dream of, the mistake most people make is how they think about self-esteem. It’s not a thing to be increased or decreased, although that is the common terminology. Instead, self-esteem is a verb; it’s the process of esteeming yourself.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, esteem means “to set a high value on: regard highly and prize accordingly.” In other words, the process of boosting your self-esteem starts with deciding that you are valuable and treating yourself as such.

5 Good Habits to Build

•    Believe in yourself.  The first step in creating greater self-esteem is to believe in yourself. It’s your responsibility to take charge of your own self-concept and your beliefs – including belief in your worth, your talent, your abilities, and your potential.

•    Identify 9 major successes.  Research has repeatedly shown that the more you acknowledge your past success, the more confident you become in taking on and successfully accomplishing new ones. A simple way to start this process is to take an inventory of your major success. Divide your life into three time periods – from birth to 15, 16 to 30, and 31 to 45. The list three major successes from each time period.

To really convince yourself that you’re a successful person who can continue to achieve great things, keep going with your list. See if you can identify 100 or more of your life successes.

•    Keep a victory log.  Recall and write down your successes each day. This will log them into your long-term memory, enhancing your self-esteem and self-confidence. Whenever you need a boost of self-confidence, reread what you have written. Keeping and referring to your victory log keeps you focused on your successes instead.

•    Display success symbols.
  What you see in your environment has a psychological impact on your moods, attitudes and behavior. Surround yourself with awards, pictures and other objects that remind you of your successes. Create a special place in your home – such as a hallway, shelf or even the top of your refrigerator – to display your symbols. This will subtly program you to see yourself as someone who has consistent successes in life.

•    Keep your agreements.  One of the most commonly overlooked ways to boost self-esteem is to keep your word. Every agreement you make is ultimately to yourself, even those that involve other people. Your brain registers agreements as commitments. If you don’t follow through, you learn to not trust yourself. You lose integrity and faith in your ability to produce a result. Don’t undermine your sense of personal power – keep your commitments.

Increase Your Capacity to Take a Risk

To understand the importance of esteeming yourself, imagine you were playing poker. If you have 10 chips and I have 200 chips, who do you think will play more conservatively? You will, of course, because the stakes are higher for you. Two losing bets of five chips each would put you out of the game. I, on the other hand, could lose five chips 40 times before I was out.

Your self-esteem is like a stack of poker chips. The higher it is, the more willing and able you are to take the risks that will lead you to greater success. Use the ideas shared in this article to create and maintain the high levels of self-esteem you need to get where you want to be.