In this article, I'll describe the vital missing ingredient without which improving your self-esteem is almost impossible. I'll review why self-esteem is important, I'll show you why certain types of advice do more harm than good. And - most important of all - I'll tell you the secrets of how to build and maintain your own self-esteem at an appropriate level.

The vital missing ingredient

I like to define self-esteem simply as the extent to which we like and respect ourselves. In addition there's a really important bit of reasoning; a bit of reasoning that works in the real world and it will work for you. Here it is, in a simple equation:

self-esteem = DOING WELL x feelgood factor

It's the "doing well" element that's been missing all these years in so many of the self-esteem books that stuff the bookshelves of almost every library you'll ever visit. Even in our schools the doing well concept has been devalued, to be increasingly replaced by suggestions that we are all equally good irrespective of how well we do. Did you know that many schools in the UK are now refusing to include competitive activities on Sports' Day in case the losers suffer a loss of self-esteem? How is such an over-protective attitude by their mentors going to prepare children for the tough world they will face as adults, where competition for jobs and so on inevitably results in "losing" and rejection?

Sport's Day competitions are a form of playing which, if managed in an enlightened way with clear and fair rules, adds value to children's lives EVEN if they lose!

I passionately believe that you have to do something well in order to feel good about yourself. Of course, that doesn't mean that you have to be excellent at everything (such expectations would be absurd), but you do need to recognize the difference between doing something well and doing it badly or without care.

Look at that simple equation again: you can tell yourself a million times a day that you deserve to feel great, and you might - just might - manage to push up your feelgood factor. But unless you start to do something well at the same time your self-esteem just cannot rise. I'll illustrate this further with an example towards the end of this article.

First, let me emphasise the point one more time. Doesn't it follow that doing something a bit better today than you did it yesterday would be a legitimate reason for you to feel good about yourself? Can you see what would happen? You'd have BOTH elements of the self-esteem equation in place and your self-esteem would go up!

Try it for yourself

Don't worry - I'm not suggesting that we should all aspire to win medals for something or obtain straight A-grades if we study. No, I'm talking about doing well in the things that matter to us, and those things vary from person to person. Things such as getting along with your partner, overcoming irrational and disproportionate feelings of jealousy, studying hard, putting in a day's work that you feel proud of, or maybe even something physical like losing weight if that's an important objective for you.

Here's a very quick but powerful exercise: write down a list of 10 things that really matter to you, active things like "feeling close to and connected with my partner". Then put a check-mark by the ones where you're doing really well. Do you see how those things are affecting your self-esteem? Imagine how your self-esteem would rise if you made some improvements in those areas that matter to you over the coming weeks. And if you don't know quite what you can do differently, this website is here to help you make the best possible choices.

But, make no mistake, maintaining healthy levels of self-esteem takes a bit of effort.

And rightly so. You live in the real world, not a fantasy world. Whether you are a good swimmer, or a good painter, or a good mother, or a good girlfriend, depends on a great many things that you DO, not just on what you think of yourself after consuming a heady cocktail of self-affirmation statements served up out of the back of the self-esteem bandwagon.

The REAL recipe for success

Improving your self-esteem is a journey that requires from YOU some commitment to do well in those aspects of your life that matter most to you. It also requires a bit of effort to turn that commitment into results. Remember that equation again:

self-esteem = doing well x feelgood factor

Embarking on that journey can be a bit like deciding to climb a steep hill. In spite of the teachings from some quarters within the "self-esteem movement", you can't get to the top by closing your eyes, taking a deep breath, telling yourself that you special and deserve to be at the summit... without moving a muscle.

Your motivation to climb that hill is much stronger if you can visualize the steps you're going to take to get to the summit, how exhilarated you will feel when you approach your target, and how proud of yourself you will be for having shown the determination to make such terrific progress.

And you don't have to climb that hill alone, or without help. has been created to help women around the world fulfil their unique potential. It has exactly the route-maps and resources that you need, and we are standing by to support any of our members who need additional guidance as they work through our Self-help Programs.

I created because I felt that the "self-esteem movement" has for a long time been sending out superficial messages and in some cases doing more harm than good.

I wanted to share some of the useful things that I've absorbed in my own life, having first learned about my own self-esteem the hard way because I stumbled along a few paths that hurt me. The pain helped me to grow up, but I made mistakes along the way that I'd like to help other women to avoid. Over the last thirteen years I've had the privilege of working with thousands of women, and I've amassed a great deal of empirical evidence that has allowed me to be very confident about what works and what does not.

I believe that self-esteem is very important, and have dedicated my work time to helping women everywhere bolster theirs.

Author's Bio: 

Alison Finch is the Founder and Creator of, which has become the most popular self-esteem site for women on the Internet. Since 2004, she has reached out to over 150,000 women from over 90 countries and provided the much needed help to boost their self-esteem. Her unique approach to building self-esteem is refreshingly different and has a twelve-year proven track record of success.