Self-doubt: An Obstacle to Success

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Whether you are starting a business, changing careers, or heading off on an adventure, it is natural for a little self-doubt to creep in. Do I really have what it takes to do this? Will people take me seriously? What will happen if I fail? Self-doubt can be difficult to overcome. It is quite possibly the biggest obstacle that individuals must conquer in order to be successful. The world is missing out
on many great inventions, talented art, and critical businesses because of self-doubt. People question their knowledge and ability to the point where they would rather do nothing than to take a chance. But in the words of Mark Twain: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in our sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

If you find your own self-doubt hindering your personal progress, try these tips:

1. Listen to the people around you. Most of us have friends and loved ones that we can count on to give us honest feedback. Ask those people to tell you what they think are your strengths and talents. You will surely get a laundry list of things that prove you are more than competent enough to pursue the task at hand. But here's a tip: If the people around you can't give you those motivating messages, that's probably one source of your problem; you need to upgrade your associations and surround yourself with more positive, supportive people.

2. Review your track record. Look back on major accomplishments in your past. Recognize what it took for you to make those things happen and remember how it felt to achieve a goal. One of my greatest memories is from the summer that I completed a 3-day 60-mile walk for breast cancer. I had sprained my ankle during training and it never healed properly. When I think back on that experience I remember my commitment to train every day and my determination to complete the final day even though I was limping most of the way. But most of all I remember how good it felt to cross the finish line. I am able to use that experience to push me through many difficulties that I encounter today in building my coaching practice.

3. Identify exactly what you are afraid of. As long as your self-doubt and fear remain general and nebulous you will never be able to overcome them. Only by articulating exactly what it is that you are afraid of, are you able to develop a game plan to conquer that fear. "I'm afraid of failing" isn't enough. Dig deeper; figure out EXACTLY what you're afraid of. Are you scared of being broke, looking foolish, or not having enough knowledge? Once you pinpoint exactly what is holding you back, you can create a strategy to minimize your risk. For example, if your fear is of being broke, then you may want to pay extra close attention to the financial part of your business plan and work to minimize your personal spending. If you fear is of not having enough knowledge then you want to build your available resources and have outside experts that you can draw on.

A little bit of self-doubt or nervousness helps to keep you humble, but too much self-doubt however, can be paralyzing. "And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." (Anais Nin )

About the Author:

© Copyright 2002 All Rights Reserved. Myrtis Smith is a personal coach. Her mission is to help people create their preferred future and have fun doing it. Sign up for her free newsletter Change Now! at .......because life doesn't just happen!

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