Self-esteem is the way people feel about themselves. It has a direct relationship with productivity and is a major component in determining success or failure. Essentially, your opinion of yourself critically influences everything — from your performance at work, your personal relationships and to your accomplishments in life.

But how do you tell whether you have high or low self-esteem? Start evaluating yourself by answering the following questions:

* Do you constantly seek a second opinion or validation from others?;

* Do you blame the world for something that does not go your way?;

* Are you an indecisive person?; and

* Do you often go along with the majority to be accepted?

If you answered “yes” to all the questions above, you may lack self-esteem, which may lead to low productivity in various aspects of your life. To learn to feel better about yourself and gain self-confidence and a higher self-esteem, there are several things you can do:

1. Turn scars into stars

Read the life histories of people who turned a negative into a positive and adversity into advantage. They refused to let disappointment and failure pull them down. Even though German composer Beethoven was struck by deafness, he continued to write great music. Successful people achieve things in spite of, not in the absence of, problems.

2. Accept responsibility

You need to accept responsibility for your behaviour and actions, and stop making excuses. Excuses make the problem worse than the problem itself. Do not be the student who failed just because he did not like the teacher or the subject. You have to stop blaming events or people. Only then can you improve your productivity and quality of life.

3. Become internally driven

As Eleanor Roosevelt said: “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.” There are many people in your life who can bring you down with hurtful and angry statements, but do not be affected by these external sources. As long as you blame them, your sense of helplessness will continue. Instead, take control and accept responsibility for your feelings and behaviour. When you are internally driven, overcoming hurdles in your life will become much easier and your self-esteem will grow.

4. Give yourself positive auto-suggestions

Develop the habit of positive self-talk, which is also known as the practice of auto-suggestion. For example, you can tell yourself “I can handle it”; “I can do it”; “I am good at Maths”; or “I have a good memory.”

Auto-suggestions alter your belief system by influencing your sub-conscious mind. As your behaviour is a reflection of your belief system, positive auto-suggestions will help improve your behaviour and soon enough, become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

5. Set goals

Be realistic when setting goals. Unrealistic goals tend to remain unaccomplished, leading to poor self-esteem, whereas realistic goals encourage and build high self-esteem.

Well-defined goals give you a sense of direction and a feeling of accomplishment when you reach those goals. It is the process of becoming more confident and thinking more positively about yourself. That is what self-esteem is all about.

Start making a list of all your strengths and weaknesses. Focus on what you want to do and be, and work towards building higher self-esteem. People with high self-esteem have conviction, are competent and willing to accept responsibility. Simply put, when you feel good, your productivity goes up and you will reach your goals.