“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
Do you believe it’s possible to do work you love?
Many people have a difficult time answering a resounding “YES!” to this question because of self-doubt.
Self-doubt is completely normal and occurs when we experience discouraging situations or get bad news that we didn’t anticipate. It can occur when we keep failing to get the results we want or when outcomes take longer than expected.
And let’s face it, on the journey toward our dreams we’ll face all of these obstacles.
Even though doubt is completely normal it isn’t very helpful. The consequences of unhealthy doubt include: poor self-esteem, a lack of perseverance, giving-up too early, or never ever trying in the first place.
This is unfortunate because we’re all capable of creating something remarkable.
Not only are we capable, but I believe we’re meant to.
Where in life are you experiencing doubt right now?
Now, take a slow deep breath, and calmly reminder yourself that doubt is totally normal.
Whenever we’re making a change, things aren’t going well, or we’re trying something for the first time, there will be fear, apprehension, and uncertainty.
With this in mind, the goal isn’t to eliminate doubt but instead to notice, acknowledge, and deal with it when it shows up.
Notice the voice of self-doubt
When the voice of doubt and uncertainty chimes in, notice what it says, but be deliberate about whether or not to take what it says seriously.
What does the “voice of doubt” say to you?
“I’m not really capable of doing this?”
“I’m not ready to take this step?”
“What if it doesn’t turn out how I imagined.”
“What if I fail?”
“What if this is a mistake?”
Next time the voice of doubt speaks up acknowledge its presence and decide to turn down the volume.
Start treating doubt like a whining child throwing a tantrum. The more attention you give it, the louder and more problematic it becomes. Stop reinforcing the doubt.
If you want to make your dreams a reality, drop the self-defeating thinking, and stop letting the voice of doubt intimidate you.
Here are four ways to do that.
1. Realize when worry is worthless
We all worry from time to time, and some worry is helpful to get us moving, to take action, and solve problems.
Sometimes they’re things worth worry about.
But like that savory pot of coffee, too much of it can make us feel anxious and nervous.
Worry is our silly way of trying to predict all the problems we want to avoid so we can prevent them. This is a very disempowering way to think.
If you’re going to focus on all the “What ifs..?” try to put a positive spin on it.
Instead of focusing on what you don’t want to happen, what if you envision the results you’d like to have happen and how you can create them?
Hey, “what if” you could have the life and career you really wanted?
Practice acknowledging what you want to have happen in your life instead of worry about what you’re trying to avoid.
2. Ditch negative influences
I’m sure you know a “Negative Nancy” or a “Downer Dan.” They’re the cynical, pessimistic people always assuming the worst and trying to take you down with them. Negative people tend to point out all the reasons why an idea won’t work and they discourage you from following your dreams.
This is one reason why I created You Have a Calling. When we want to make a significant life change we need support from motivated and encouraging people.
If you find yourself around dream killers, don’t take it personally. If someone’s shooting down your dreams and aspirations, it’s probably because they’re frustrated that they’re not willing to do it themselves!
3. Problems are meant to be solved
What’s your natural response to a setback or obstacle? Do you immediately start to lose confidence and doubt your ideas? Or, do you take a solution-focused approach and explore ways to learn and grow from your problem?
Remember that problems are meant to be solved. Obstacles, challenges, spiritual tests, and learning curves are all part of the journey. Problems are like tryouts for our life’s purpose and potential. They can help us learn more about whom we are and what we’re meant to do.
So, stop expecting to not have problems! When problems occur decide to have a growth mindset. Use adversity to make you better instead of getting bitter and wallowing in doubt.
4. Let go of the “How” and focus on the “What”
When we don’t know “how” to achieve something, it’s natural to hold back and doubt that it’s possible. It would be great to have a crystal clear path toward our desired outcome.
Unfortunately we won’t always know “how.” We won’t always have all the answers.
A common part of coaching people is helping them get unattached from the “How,” and to open up to the infinite possibilities of the “What”!
Focus on what you want and what you have control over.
What can you do to make progress?
What can you do that would make a difference immediately?
What can you learn that would help you?
Realize that strategy and tactic will change along the way as you get feedback about results. Plus, sometimes strategic clarity comes by just getting started and making progress.
Your job is to take the next best step; to do the best you can right now, with the knowledge and skills you have.
Don’t get stuck on how. Don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis.
Remember that there is no perfect choice or decision. Get out of your own way and just take the next best step.
Doubt is simply a thinking pattern that we’ve developed because we’re afraid to fail. We can learn to change this pattern.
When you notice yourself doubting your potential, don’t feed into it, use these tips and ideas instead.
Photo credit: bingham_becky