Overcoming Self-Doubt: Achieving Your Dreams Step Two

“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” -Suzy Kassem

This is probably one of my absolute favorite quotes, right behind one by Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt ( I may share that one later), just because it rings so true to me. Would you like to know one of the most likely reasons why you have yet to achieve your dream? Because you have yet to start. Duh, obvious answer, but what is the reason you have yet to start? Probably because you doubt your abilities. Ask yourself this question right now “why have I not tried?”, and you will probably come up with answers such as “I’m scared”, “people will think I’m stupid”, “what if I’m not any good at it?”, etc. etc., excuse after demeaning excuse. Once you realize what it is you want to do, the next step to achieving your dream is realizing you have the ability to get where you want to go. Confidence in your ability to do something is the gas that keeps you going. It’s the food for your journey.  In order to achieve whatever it is you hope for you are going to have to acknowledge and work through your lack of confidence in yourself, your fears. Batman became the thing he was scared of (according to the film adaption “Batman Begins”). Be Batman.

How to overcome your self-doubt in six steps:

1. Acknowledge what your self-doubt is. Examine yourself, and write down answers to these questions: “why do I think I cannot do this?” “what is holding me back from trying?” “why did I give up on it?” I will use myself as an example to get your brain juices flowing. There were several things that held me back from trying my hand at writing.

  • I was afraid of wasting my time on something that I would probably never be successful at.
  • I was afraid that I was actually no good at writing, and that anything I did write was stupid.
  • I was afraid that people would judge me or think I was dumb for going after a non-traditional career, that they would think I was no good at writing, and then I would prove them right.
  • I was afraid that I liked the idea of being a writer more than actually being one.

2. Play devils advocate to yourself, and write out an argument against each of the things you wrote in the first step explaining why you can do it and why the thing(s) you fear is baseless. Here are the arguments I came up with:

  • It doesn’t matter whether I am ever successful at it or not. I have already failed if I never tried, and anyways trying and failing just makes you wiser and more awesome.
  • Even if I am not good at it now that doesn’t mean I can’t be. I might just have to try harder than others to get better at it. You can learn practically anything if you are willing to put in the hard work.
  • People probably will judge me, because everyone has an opinion, and people tend to judge things that are different, but when it comes down to it people are self-centered and won’t spend too much time thinking about something that doesn’t have to do with them (no offense to someone who is judging me right now). I also have my mom, my husband, and my bestie encouraging and supporting me. What does anyone else’s opinion really matter?
  • I have no way of knowing whether I like writing unless I actually do it, and spend time on it. Thankfully I am enjoying it :) Fear squashed.

3. Read inspirational things. Put up quotes that you find inspirational on your wall as a reminder. I can’t tell you how many times I had completely given up on being a writer, and then read something that lit a fire under my behind, and made me pursue it again. The fire eventually died down, and my old fears returned, but always a little less strong than before, and I finally read one last inspiring article and decided “I am going to do it!” and did. Here is a good one to start with from James Altucher (he has LOTS of good stuff): How to Get Rid of Your Excuses (or… What Are Your Excuses?)

4. Realize that failure is awesome, and those who don’t fail are losers. With great risk comes great reward…or great failure. Either way you win something. With reward you obviously get the thing you have been wanting, but when we fail we become wiser and stronger. Failure is just a learning opportunity on the path to your destination. It’s not the destination itself, but just a hill along the way that gives you rock hard thighs, so you will be able to climb all the other hills a little easier and a little faster. Failure makes life interesting and exciting, and it becomes the stories we tell our children.

5. Realize that if you aren’t good at something now, it doesn’t mean you can’t be later. You can do anything you want. I told this to a group of young girls once, and of course they immediately tested me. One asked, “become a mermaid?” Unfortunately my response was “well, within reason of course.” But you know what? If you want to be a mermaid, you can be a flippin’ mermaid. Sew up your own water friendly mermaid tail, take some vigorous swimming lessons, and stock up on oxygen tanks, and boom! You’re a mermaid. Now obviously I don’t think that would be a desirable lifestyle for most, but my point is there is almost always a way to accomplish the thing you want. Some just might have to work at it harder than others. Something that might take one person a month could take someone else years. We are all on different levels. That doesn’t mean you can’t become good at it though.

6. You will constantly have to reassess and kick yourself in the butt. Once you go through steps one through five you are probably going to have to go through them again, and again, oh, and again, before you finally push yourself to go through with whatever it is you want to do. Self-doubt has a way of creeping back up on us no matter how many times we slay it, and we easily forget that failure makes us stronger, or that we can do anything we want with hard work. You will have to keep reminding yourself that you ARE good enough. The only true cure for self-doubt is finally just doing it.

I still have doubts, and I probably will always have doubts in myself, but the key is to keep trying, and keep pushing. If you want something bad enough, you will achieve it, no matter if you fail at it once or a hundred times. You just have to begin.

Remember we are all only here for a short time, whether we die young or old. Don’t waste it being what the world tells you to be, and don’t waste it being what your self-doubt scares you into being. Be a bag boy at a grocery store if that’s all you want, or be a flippin’ mermaid.

Tune in next Monday for the third step in my “How to Achieve Your Dreams” series: Figuring out how you will get there, making out a map. 

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