There’s no question that self-doubt can absolutely paralyze you in business. It doesn’t matter what great ideas you have or how many plans, trying to execute them is so difficult. Every time you go to do something, there’s a little voice in your head that says ‘you can’t’. Maybe it’s not always ‘you can’t’, sometimes it’s some other unhelpful though. Other times, you don’t even realise you’re stuck until you find yourself in the land of procrastination with no way out.
There is a way out. I want to share with your the 6 key things I try to do in my own business to overcome self-doubt. I say try because I slip up…sometimes a little and other times a lot.
Recently I slipped up but that’s okay because each time I become more aware of it and I remind myself of these 6 things.
I can honestly say, implementing these changes and turning them into daily habits has made an incredible difference to not just my business but my life in general. In fact, I would never have been able to share open and honest posts like this without first overcoming that fear and doubt.
So let’s get to it, shall we? :)
Number One: Limit Who You Listen Too
Most business owners look influencers and experts for advice and support. Whether it’s reading a blog, listening to podcasts, watching YouTube videos or paying for mentorship. The idea behind this is that we learn and we grow. That’s a good thing but it can also, in some cases, have a negative impact on your ability to trust your own thoughts… especially when you disagree with the advice you are being told.
What I’ll say here is to keep in mind that businesses want you to need them. That’s their job. They want you to buy into their solution. As long as you have a problem that they can solve, you need them and therefore will give them your money for their help. That’s not me hating. I 100% do the same. As businesses, as marketers, we have to highlight the problem you have and be the solution. However, if you aren’t in the right mindset, the downside is that you can feel like have all these problems and that can impact your confidence. This gets worse when you try to implement the advice provided but don’t get the results you were hoping for.
I find this is actually pretty common. When you listen to influencers ,it can be really easy to lose trust in your own thoughts. One person says something and everyone jumps on it without question or their own thoughts.
You can be a leader of a follower. As a business owner, you are a leader. You can think for yourself and you can make those decisions. No one knows your business or your customers better than you. Trust that and trust your instincts even if it goes against the grain. The easiest way to do this is limit the voices in your ear all day. I’m not saying don’t read or listen to others, this is just something to be aware of.
Number Two: Surround yourself with the right people
I know this can be difficult when the people casting doubts on your ability to succeed are friends/family. It can feel like you have to put up with that. When you are constantly having to justify yourself and what you are trying to achieve, they just don’t get it and eventually you can start to doubt yourself.
This is why it is important to surround yourself with the right people. It’s essential. Be around:
- Like-minded people who understand
- People you bring you up and encourage you instead of trying to bring you down because it’s not “realistic”
- People you have a positive impact and influence on you
- People who have their life together and don’t have time to judge others
- People who follow their own path and don’t give into fear (their insecurity)
Sometimes in doing this, you do lose friends. I don’t want to encourage you to do that but if they decide to walk away, let them be. Don’t try and be a people-pleaser at the expense of your dreams and the ideal lifestyle you are trying to create for yourself.
Also remember that true friends will understand and support you no matter what.
It’s not that I’m not realistic, it’s just that you put restrictions on what that means when I didn’t.
Number Three: Write Down Ten New Ideas Every Day
Author and Business Entrepreneur James Altucher created this concept around being an idea machine. Based around the thought that ‘
Ideas are the currency of life’,
James suggest writing down ten new ideas every single day. Without fail. This can be ten ideas around anything; just get them down on paper. If you can’t come up with ten, make it twenty. It’s amazing what we can do when we push ourselves that little bit further.
This exercise will get your brain thinking. It forces you to look within and be creative. It brings out in you that every same thing that you felt when you decided you wanted to start a business; excitement, passion, determination… all those things that push you to execute.
They remind you of who you are and why this is what you were meant to do. They help you regain confidence in your mind, creativity and overall ability to make it happen.
Number Four: Actively Shut Thoughts Down
Don’t invite negative thoughts into your head. When they come knocking, don’t answer the door. It’s really important to remember that you are in control at any given moment in time. You are not your mind and when those unhelpful thoughts try to push their way in, you can choose whether you are going to fuel them or shut them down.
You have about 15 seconds to stop a negative thought before it becomes a full feeling. It’s the law of physics; things in motion, stay in motion. That’s why it’s imperative you shut them down.
You control how you react, adapt, breathe and take action. Always. You have choice.
Choose instead to speak positively of yourself. It’s funny, a lot of us claim to hate bullies and bullying yet we are the biggest bully of all to ourselves. Why is that? Because it’s ourselves, is it ok? No. It wouldn’t be ok to treat someone else or think those things of someone else so it’s not ok to do it to yourself either.
Your awareness of your mind and your thoughts is really important as you start to take action on this step. We don’t even realise the words we say to ourselves a lot of the time. Being aware in itself, encourages you to make that positive choice.
Number Five: Don’t Listen To The Critics
We all start somewhere. We all start from scratch. You have every right to be here doing what you are doing and following your path. Don’t let people compare you or put you don’t for going all in. That’s what you have to do. If you want to make it, you have to go all in and that means choosing courage over fear.
People who have time to criticise are usually the people that are too insecure to take a chance on their own ideas. If they were focused on executing their own dreams, they wouldn’t have time to spend criticising yours.
That’s their insecurity to deal with, not yours.
The wonderful thing is if you refer back to number two, you don’t have to surround yourself with them.
Number Six: Take Care Of Yourself
I’m saving the best until last here. As a small business owner, you’re super duper busy. I get it. It can be really easy to get run down and that has a huge impact on your health and wellbeing.
The very best thing you do is take care of your body and know that is your number one priority. Above EVERYTHING. If you’re not okay then neither will your business be. There’s no way. The very reasons that you use to not put yourself first aka “this needs my attention” or “these people are depending on me” – these are the same very reasons that you absolutely do have to put yourself first.
You owe it to your family, your customers and yourself to be your best self and that can only happen when you take care of you.
I know it can sometimes be hard when you’re struggling with the mind stuff eg your self doubt. That’s okay too. Use these steps mentioned and start with the physical stuff:
- Drink water
- Eat balanced meals and eat regularly
- Only listen to positive music
- Stop watching things like the news which tend to have a negative influences
- Make sure you get a minimum of 7 hours sleep a night. This along makes a massive difference.
I know this may seem obvious and it’s same thing that everyone says but that’s because it works.
When you take care of the physical side of things, the mental blocks will start to release.
When you feel good, you do good.
Self doubt isn’t real. It’s just a thought but it feels real and it can be paralysing. For most business owners, it’s the wall standing between where they are now and where they want to be.
These steps I’ve shared are designed to bust down this wall and help you reach the other side where you belong.
Now I know these steps won’t change things overnight but if you practice them daily, they will introduce you to new positive habits and they’ll replace the old ones. Be consistent and you’ll see the benefits quicker than you think.
I truly hope you’ve found this valuable.
Much love from my heart to yours,
Clarke, M (2011)
“Face Forward: Meeting Challenges Head On in Times of Trouble”.
New York City: Morgan James Publishing, P174