Is this project too big? Am I the right person for it? Why did they choose me?
At one point or another, we’ve all been there. Taking on a new project that feels a size too big. Wondering whether we truly have the chops others praise us for.
If you’re constantly doubting your abilities and wondering how you’ve made it thus far, it’s time to face your self-doubt once and for all.
Here’s how you can do that.
What is self-doubt in business?
Self-doubt, in business and beyond, is that nagging voice in the back of your mind that’s constantly making you question your abilities. It may be a little voice — or it may be a ferocious scream that leaves you feeling frozen.
These tips are about the inner work of silencing that inner critic and stepping into the power of self-confidence to achieve your goals.
Self-doubt often shows up in the form of criticism, self-deprecation, or an inability to take compliments from others. Think about it: What’s your go-to response when someone compliments you? If your knee-jerk reaction is to dismiss any positive feedback (“oh, this old thing? Anyone could do it”), you may have a hard time identifying or embracing your strengths.
Now, there are many reasons you could experience self-doubt. Maybe you had a difficult client or an unsupportive manager. Or your attachment style affects the way you relate to others.
One thing I’ve seen — and experienced — many times is the way perfectionism influences confidence. Perfectionism is one of the biggest dream killers out there. It erodes your confidence to the point of paralyzing you. But the sooner you realize that perfectionism isn’t real, the sooner you’ll be able to embrace failure as a natural part of any process and learn from it.
4 baby steps to overcome self-doubt as a professional
Identify the reason for your self-doubt
To think you don’t have a specific set of skills is one thing. To know you bit off more than you could chew is another thing entirely.
When feelings of self-doubt start arising, consider for a second: Are you over-committing and afraid you won’t be able to deliver? Or can you objectively complete the work as needed?
Many times, we’re afraid or uncomfortable saying no even when we know it’s the right thing to do. But constantly overstretching yourself will only lead to frustration, resentment, and a negative impact on your performance.
If you constantly find yourself overstretched, it’s time to set clearer boundaries and respect them. Your mental health will thank you for it.
Find the evidence to rebut your self-doubt
You can do hard things. However, we’re often so busy doing the thing and going on to the next one that we rarely sit down long enough to reflect on everything we’ve already learned and achieved. So all of those accomplishments go unnoticed.
I encourage you to have a folder somewhere to back up all the compliments your clients have shared. All the positive feedback, awards, recognitions, and the projects you’ve completed successfully. This can be your mood booster for any time self-doubt creeps in.
Identify the worst-case scenario
Indulge your fears by diving deep into the worst things that could happen if you were right about that self-doubt. If you’ve watched This Is Us, you may remember Beth and Randall doing this exercise when they’re entering an anxiety spiral.
More often than not, it really won’t be as bad as your anxiety would have you believe. Let’s say you’re nervous about an important presentation with a massive client. Brainstorm all the ways it could go wrong. Go all out — truly dive into the absolute worst consequences.
This seemingly silly exercise can take the edge off taking risks by helping you realize that, most times, we’re hyping ourselves up over completely made up possibilities when in reality, things will likely turn out just fine.
Kathleen Shannon, former host of Being Boss, shares an example in one of the earliest episodes of Being Boss where the worst-case scenario for a botched client call is ending up as a bag lady wandering down the streets somewhere.
Change the way you’re talking to yourself
If you’re like me, I bet you’re your toughest critic. As entrepreneurs, women, mothers, sisters, wives, and many other roles, we’re so used to diminishing ourselves and harshly judging everything we do because we strive for the best.
But have you stopped to consider what your loved ones would do if you judged them as harshly as you judge yourself?
I invite you to notice the way you’re speaking to yourself from a place of curiosity. What words are you using to describe yourself, your skills, your dreams and goals? If you’re beating yourself up, please consider reframing your thoughts to kindness and compassion — just like you would for a friend.
When you step out of your comfort zone, things are bound to get uncomfortable
Unless you’re willing to take this risk, you’ll probably feel stuck right where you are. So I’d say, more than embracing discomfort, it’s a matter of choosing which discomfort you want — the discomfort of growing or the one that comes from being stuck in the same place?
Book a consultation below to discover how I can help you step into your power and grow your business at ease.