Is Self-Doubt Holding You Back?
5 Ways To Build Confidence And Banish Doubt
BY JANE PORTER
The problem with self-doubt is that the fear it creates stops us from living the lives we most want and changing the things we don’t. How? Fear keeps us living small and stuck in jobs that don’t fulfill us but feel safe.
If you find yourself plagued by self-doubt, you’re not alone. In fact, one study of managers by the European Institute for Leadership and Management revealed that 50% of female managers and 31% of male managers admitted to experiencing self-doubt. The problem with self-doubt is that the fear it creates stops us from living the lives we most want and changing the things we don’t. How? Fear keeps us living small and stuck in jobs that don’t fulfill us but feel safe. But is there really anything safe about living a life where you feel disengaged, disillusioned or desperate to be doing something else? of course not. The truth is that who you are is not your doubts. The key to banishing them isn’t to wish them away, but to take action in their presence.
It’s easy to mislead ourselves into thinking that if we just had the success we wanted, then we’d never doubt ourselves again and ooze the confidence we see in others. But it actually works in reverse. We must first start acting with the confidence we aspire to have if we want to build more of it.So what are five ways you can finally make peace with self-doubt and start showing up, shining and succeeding in your work and beyond?
Know your why – Why would you bother to speak up at work, to go and start a new career, or to take on a great big job where there’s more chance of you failing than the one you’re in right now? Why would you risk the humiliation and the possibility of rejection and failure? As I wrote in Stop Playing Safe, it’s important to be able to give a clear and compelling answer to the question “For the sake of what?” Doing so will help crystallise for you why you need to exit your comfort zone, make changes and take the chances toward the ambitions that excite you. Indeed, knowing our Why is indispensable for over-riding self-doubt as it moves you through fear into action, fueling confidence as you go.
Grow your grit – Associate Professor Angela Duckworth explains that “grit” is the passion and perseverance to stick with your long-term goals. One way you can cultivate grit is to ensure your goals are personally interesting and meaningful in the world. As Michelle McQuaid, a positive psychology expert, says, “When you’re able to connect passion with action it gives you a sense of purpose and energy that researchers are finding prevents burnout and promotes resiliency.” Developing daily habits and rituals that help you stay strong, focused, and resilient is therefore vital to staying the course over the long haul.
Choose your company – Emotions are contagious and we cannot help but pick up and be affected by the emotions of those around us. Self-doubt expert Louisa Jewell cautions that your social network can either increase or reduce your self-doubt. If you’re embarking on something new, make sure you’ve got really supportive people around you who are uplifting you and encouraging you to move forward. Likewise, avoid or limit your time with naysayers, cynics and ’emotional vampires’ that pull you down, feed your doubt and suck the life out of you. Sometimes you have to ‘prune your tree’ of those who you’ve outgrown.
Cultivate small daily habits to sow long-term changes – How you do the small things that few may see create the big long term results everyone wants . Accordingly BJ Fogg at Stanford University has found that by scaling back bigger behaviours into really small actions you can create dramatic shifts that last. His ‘tiny habits’ formula recommends scaling back change to one very small step; sequencing this step by adding to the end of a habit you already have – “After I (insert existing routine), I will (insert new routine)”; and then celebrate your completion of the step with a heartfelt “Awesome!” to create a jolt of positive emotion that helps the habit stick. Try it.
Set clear boundaries– Setting boundaries and saying no can be awkward, if not outright uncomfortable. But doing so will enable you to focus your time on those activities that nurture self-confidence, fuel courage and keep those doubting gremlins at bay. Author and productivity coach Valorie Burton recommends taking note of the areas where you currently feel the most frustrated, stressed or overwhelmed and being honest with yourself about the conversations you need to have. It may be that you need to ask someone to stop asking so much of you. Or it may be you need to say no to some of the offers, invitations and opportunities that you may previously have taken on. After all, you can’t build confidence by doing things that neither leverage your strengths nor ‘fill your tank.’
If you’re fed up with self-doubt holding you back join me and other leading global experts for a special free podcast series starting September 29th on the practical strategies you can implement to help you thrive at work.
→ Margie Warrell is an expert in helping people live & lead more courageously. A keynote speaker and best-selling author of Stop Playing Safe (Wiley) and Find Your Courage (McGraw-Hill), connect on Facebook & Twitter @margiewarrell
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