Self-doubt: 4 Easy ways to overcome it

I hate how overused the word Entrepreneur is today. A large number of businesspeople seem to call themselves one. I believe a large number of people would like to see themselves as one, and maybe, by calling oneself an entrepreneur would help with their positive thinking. Surely it can’t hurt having a positive idea of yourself? After all, positive thinking is a great way of dealing with self-doubt. 

It does make me wonder why self-doubt is so prevalent in the entrepreneurial space. How is it that the greats such as J.K Rowling, Michelle Mone and Richard Branson have managed to harness this feeling and create something extraordinary? 

Entrepreneurs and business owners in general, have countless opportunities to doubt themselves, their ideas, their plans and even their abilities. I’m sure you have asked yourself countless times, “am I cut out for this way of working?” or “am I following the right path?”

In 2012 I left school after scraping my GCSE’s. Unfortunately, academia never came naturally to me and a lot of time I spent in the classroom was used thinking about other matters that were more important to me. If I wasn’t interested in what was being discussed or didn’t grasp it straight away, there would be little or no possibility of me taking part. To make matters worse, I was also dyslexic which I saw as a weakness. Today, I consider my dyslexia as one of my greatest gifts.

Unashamedly, I have always liked money and the freedom it gives you. So after leaving school, I was keen to get to work and make a name for myself. Unfortunately, my perception of work was diminished by the reality of it. I almost saw it as an extension of school work but the only difference with work, you got paid to do it. As you can imagine, my poor performance in the classroom bared a very similar resemblance to my performance at the office. As the pressures from my bosses to do better grew, the only thing that did seem to grow was my self-doubt.

My self-doubt seemed to worsen when I realised my poor performance ultimately let my colleagues down as they inevitably had to pick up my slack. After 5 years of growing self-doubt, I decided to go down the self-employed route. I could finally spend my time working on items that I was passionate about, but also, the only person who I could let down would be me. Now I am grateful that I preserved. Not only do I feel like I’m doing work that I am interested in, but also, I can manage my own destiny. 

The one thing I have learnt is that, just because I am in a job where I feel I am most suited, it still brings with it enormous self-doubt. If you are anything like me, I always try to complete things to a high standard and put myself under constant pressure to pursue my goals. Having a perfectionist viewpoint often opens the door to being overly self-critical. So how do I manage it? Here are some tips I have found that will enable you to overcome self-doubt whenever it strikes:

Don’t compare yourself to others.

I found initially, that it was very difficult not to compare myself to other peoples success in my industry. My advice – don’t make unrealistic comparisons that cast a shadow of self-doubt on your own abilities. Try not to worry about what your competition is doing. Mary Schmich once said that “…worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindsides you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.”

You can only control your own future, so try and take part in anything that will help propel you towards your goals. Try to network and learn from the success of other people. What things did they do that led to their success? What adversities did they have to overcome? I have found that having a mentor or someone that you trust and admire can really help laser guide your focus.

Acknowledge previous accomplishments.

Any accomplished entrepreneur will tell you that starting a business is one of the most difficult paths an individual can choose. it takes an exceptional amount of blood sweat and tears to take any idea from inception to market

There will of course, especially early on in your career, be more bad days than good days, and at some point, you will come to the realisation that no matter how hard you work, you just can’t please everyone. If you ever feel like giving up, just try and take a step back from the situation as it is very easy to feel fully immersed in negative feelings. Try and think back and acknowledge how far you have come and also any of your past accomplishments. 

Show gratitude for having encountered exciting opportunities and positive experiences. The famous MMA fighter, Connor Mcgregor recently said, “…This is the law of attraction. In this struggle, when things are going good and you visualise good things happening, that’s easy. What’s not easy is to do is when things are going bad and you’re visualising the good stuff. And that’s what I was able to do. … Visualising good things in times of struggle, when you can do that, that really makes the law of attraction work.”

Don’t take up too much time making decisions

Running a business means that you are making hundreds of decisions all day and every day. Every choice that you inevitably make will have positive and negative consequences.

When faced with a fork in the road, many people suffer from what is called analysis paralysis. All of the feedback they have received from either their clients, colleagues or mentors now hinders their ability to make a final decision and move forward. A large number of people become overwhelmed at this stage and become frozen with self-doubt.

No matter the size of any business, the success of them has been determined by a culmination of many small choices over a sustained period of time. Running a successful business should be viewed more like a marathon rather than a sprint. If at some point you make a wrong decision, just try and go back a find a solution to fix it. Commit to a course of action and make corrections as you go along. The more proactive you are, the more confident you’ll feel in your ability to lead the company.

Accept your failures

Some of the greatest athletes, writers, poets and entrepreneurs have said that they have not been defined by their successes but more by their failures. Failure is what defines you and ultimately makes you stronger. Failure is liberating in a sense because it reminds you constantly to make minor adjustments in order to get things right.

Anxiety is often rooted in fear. Mistakes are something that just can’t be avoided. No matter how talented you are or how hard you work, you will occasionally make errors. Finally, as J.K Rowling said, “It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

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Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright
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