How to kill your dreams

Let's talk about self-doubt...

I was part of a conversation last weekend with a number of people where we were discussing the way forward for a friend and her career.

What came out of this was that the biggest thing holding her back was her sense that she wasn’t worthy or capable of the next move upward, she didn’t feel that she’d be seen as someone who could carry out the role she was really wanting when for the last few years, she’d built an amazingly successful business unit for her employer but felt that she’d reached the end of that road and wasn’t supported there so it was time to change – but her fear was holding her back.

I know how that feels very well – I’ve been there and I think the vast majority of successful people have as well.

Self doubt is – without a doubt – the single biggest factor which holds people back from achieving their dreams that I know of. It’s bigger than lack of funding, of opportunity, of education, or the economy.

The same with Imposter Syndrome; you know – that feeling of being afraid you’ll be found out when you try something new, that people will laugh or criticise you for not really being as intelligent or skillful or qualified enough or maybe even not really knowing what you’re doing…

Well, it’s a fabrication! It’s a voice which only we can hear and it normally starts in the middle of the night, when we wake to go to the bathroom at 3:00am, hop back into bed and there in the dark, the whispers start in our mind – telling us we’re not good enough to start that new business, or buy that new car or dress or suit, or ask that attractive guy or girl out… and who do we think we are anyway to want more for ourselves… have you heard it?  I have, many times. And it’s stopped me from time to time too.

Well, that voice is wrong.

It’s natural to have reservations about our next move, it’s a check that we’ve investigated and prepared as fully as we can to go the next step – whatever that step is – and but once we’ve made our decisions, we’ve already gone through the assessment phase and listening to the silent saboteur only makes us second guess our path and prevents us from achieving what we are truly capable of.

It’s our own personal mental and emotional assassin – it kills more hopes and dreams than anything else, and it’s time we stopped it. And there is a very simple way to do it.

Here’s some hints for you on how to deal with self-doubt, they’re not hard but when we get caught up in the cycle, we tend to forget them.

First; give yourself a break. Show yourself the same level of compassion that you’d show someone else if they were to come to you with this in their head.

A lot of the time, we start to develop this self doubt because we’re afraid of making mistakes. If you make a mistake, it’s generally because we’re trying to improve – not everyone gets everything right the first time so show yourself that it’s ok.

Second, look back on what you’ve achieved so far in life – if you’ve won sporting or business awards, or you’ve got testimonials from past clients or business associates, remember them – they’ve been given to us because we did something good, either for ourselves or for someone else – tip I give my coaching clients is to put together a “brag book” which is a collection of past testimonials which they can then read through when times are feeling a bit tougher. Use your past achievements to reframe your mindset, you’ll be surprised how quickly this will change your outlook.

3. Comparison is the thief of joy – stop comparing yourself with others. Their path is different to yours – so looking at whatever they’ve achieved and comparing it to where you are is only taking your focus away from your own path.

4. GIGO – Garbage in – garbage out. Be aware of your thinking – when thoughts of self-doubts start to creep in (and they will in the beginning) recognise them and retrain them – replace them with more affirmative words. If they persist, ask yourself why it is that you are thinking this way

5. Your tribe is your vibe. Surround yourself with people who believe in you – friends, family, colleagues will all support you and remind us of just how capable we are.

6. We’re our own worst critic. Nobody else would dare talk to us the way we talk to ourselves, if they did we’d remove them from our lives almost instantly – and if it was in a workplace, they’d probably be fired for bullying. So next time you start speaking to yourself badly, stop, remind yourself of the good in you and why you want what you do.

That should be enough to get you through most situations, can’t give absolutely everything away as the rest is my client-focused  work… hope it helps.