We’ve all been there at some point in time. Heck, you may well be there right now. You’re building a business, moving through the steps you’ve planned for yourself to make it a success and bam! In comes that all too familiar wave of self-doubt.
“I feel self-doubt whether I’m doing something hard or easy.” – Sigourney Weaver
Self-doubt is your inner critic rearing its judgemental head. It’s that voice which says “This isn’t going to work”, or “You’re not cut out for this”. Not only that, self-doubt is a sinking panicked feeling, one which, when listened to, can stop you right in your tracks.
You may have tried to overcome self-doubt before, but it comes in many forms, including:
- Imposter syndrome
- Low self-esteem
- Limiting beliefs
How to overcome self-doubt
I know this feeling all too well. It’s one which has stopped me from pursuing business ideas, prevented me from putting myself out there and even stopped me from reaching out to peers.
I’ve been working hard to recognise and eliminate my own self-doubt. I’m not perfect, but in this article, I’m sharing some steps I took to not only overcome self-doubt but reduce the likelihood of it happening in the first place.
Don’t get distracted by other people’s advice
My self-doubt came from literally doubting my own ability because I felt so behind. All the advice I had read online lead me to believe that my business was failing because I had not used X technique, or I wasn’t on Y social media platform.
I rushed to do everything and all the advice I could get my hands on turned into endless todo lists. Lists which left me feeling exhausted by the end of the day and feeling worse about myself because my business hadn’t improved. Despite implementing all of that free advice, my business had progressed no further. In other words, I completely and utterly burnt myself out.
All of this action and then not seeing results ended up in massive waves of self-doubt. After all, if I couldn’t improve my business with all of this great advice, then I clearly wasn’t meant to do business.
Remove your comparison triggers
Comparing yourself to others is a perfect way to never overcome self-doubt.
I know you’ve been there. Scrolling on social media in your downtime, listening to a podcast, or you’ve simply read an article online and start comparing yourself to that person.
Their success, accomplishments and even lifestyle are all there for you to analyse and compare yourself to. It’s this comparison that manifests itself as self-doubt. Without really realising, by comparing yourself to others, you’re doubting your own ability to make a success of your life.
If you compare yourself on social media, reduce the time you spend there, remove it altogether or at least remove it from your phone. If you compare yourself to other business owners through their podcast, website or email newsletter, think about removing them from your life by unsubscribing.
This may seem extreme, but by removing these triggers, you can truly see your own skills and abilities for what they are, without comparing them to others.
Figure out what you truly want your business to look like
This brings me to my next point, once you’ve removed the influence of others, you can then start truly listening to yourself.
You started your business for a reason and it was probably only when you started analysing your progress and comparing it to others, that self-doubt started to appear.
Take this opportunity to re-visit the ‘why’ behind your business:
- Why did you start it in the first place?
- Who are you helping/benefitting?
- What is your goal?
- What do you get out of it?
It’s the answers to these questions that will help you shape your business for you and the people you serve. By listening to yourself, your gut and your intuition, you’ll finally be able to see through the advice and create a business that’s simple, sustainable and enjoyable.
Surround yourself with a supportive and like-minded community
When you’ve removed outside influence and know what you want from your business, self-doubt can still appear. It’s when you’re making waves, creating new challenges for yourself and moving towards your goals, that self-doubt is at its strongest.
The good news is, you’re not alone. Everyone experiences self-doubt, and it’s when we share these experiences that we grow.
When self-doubt creeps in, don’t ignore it – address it. Respond to harsh self-criticism with something more compassionate. Talk to yourself like a trusted friend and refuse to believe your unrealistic, negative inner monologue.Amy Morin
The best way to overcome self-doubt when you’re a business owner is to find others in a similar position to you. People who will understand what you’re going through and trying to achieve. People who can prop you up and you do the same in return.
Depending on your situation, this could be a local meetup group, an online forum or membership, or a Facebook group of likeminded people.
Start enjoying the process instead of the end goal
This may be the most important step to overcome self-doubt. Instead of getting so caught up in our goals, we need to start enjoying the process.
Ambitious goals are wonderful, but by heading straight for them, we tend to forget about all the rewarding milestones along the way. What’s more, we end up doubting our own abilities when we don’t reach the end goal as soon as we like.
I’ve done this multiple times, at one point I wanted to create an online shop and sell printables. I got so caught up in the end goal (to have over 100 printables and a successful shop), that I rushed creating the products and the shop itself. The result was a bunch of products that weren’t very good and a shop which was hard to use. This, of course, meant I got no sales.
If I were to do it again, I’d simplify and start with one or two valuable products that I’d spent time creating. Instead of a large store, I’d create a simple landing page with PayPal buttons. By doing this, I’d reduce the feeling of self-doubt because I’d:
- Believe in what I was selling
- Have put less work in for a better result
If you’d like to see how I’m simplifying Limit Breaker and creating a minimalist business, take a look at this article: limitbreaker.co/how-i-intend-to-create-a-minimalist-business
Overcoming self-doubt is not a one-time fix, but with the above techniques, it can be managed when building your business. Because who wants to listen to their inner critic when we have such good work to do?
Featured image by Dane Wetton
How do you manage/overcome self-doubt? Leave your techniques in the comments and let’s discuss.