Self-doubt is a feeling all solopreneurs face at one time or another. Even the most successful and famous of business owners have been filled with momentary insecurity about what they’re doing and their direction. It’s all too easy to assume that those who look confident and run profitable businesses are always at ease with their decisions.
A lot of self-doubt is subconscious. We don’t always consciously realize we are doubting ourselves and second guessing the choices we make. The clues come in the form of emotions, bodily sensations, and repetitive behaviors that signal we are fearful.
For example, a discussion with a friend or family member about a work decision, can end in friction without you really knowing why. Anger or physical tension just suddenly appeared and negatively influenced your thinking. A feeling of self-doubt might well have been the underlying problem.
Overcoming self-doubt as a solopreneur
Self-doubt, whether consciously or otherwise, can be one of the most harmful feelings a solopreneur can have. If left to fester and to influence all of your thinking patterns related to your work, then it’s highly unlikely your business endeavor will succeed.
Successful solopreneurs have learned to outsmart self-doubts. They still have moments when they second-guess themselves or feel a sense of impostor syndrome, but they have developed the emotional intelligence skills to render these merely momentary. And this is what you need to do as well if you know your self-doubt is affecting the success of your business.
So what are some of the ways solopreneurs can override crippling self-doubt?
Awareness of your thoughts
All self-doubting originates in our mental thought patterns. What we think, we become, is an old maxim. The more you allow yourself to engage in negative self-talk and imagining the worse care scenarios, the stronger your self-doubt will grow.
Take time to bring gentle awareness to your thinking. Practice mindfulness meditation for a few minutes here and there, especially when you’re feeling particularly negative. Observe your chattering brain with a sense of detachment and you’ll quickly begin to notice certain patterns and triggers. Once you’re aware of these, you can work on modifying them.
When you realize just how much negativity you’re feeding yourself, you can begin to do the opposite. All great sportspeople, for example, engage in positive self-talk and reinforcement. They visualize winning and tell themselves over and over again that they can succeed. Great solopreneurs do the same.
As the famous motivational speaker Louise Hay said, “You have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens”.
Every time you feel negativity and self-doubt, quickly tell yourself something positive about your abilities, your direction, and the people you help. With practice and persistence, this positive self-talk will become an instinctive habit. You’ll also feel much more motivated.
Reminding yourself of past successes
Everyone has met with success in one way or another. Even if you’re just starting out as a solopreneur, there are wins you will have achieved which made you feel great. When you feel self-doubt arising and overwhelming negativity, then focus back on the feelings you had when achieving something in the past.
These can be simple milestones you passed or congratulations you received. Harness those feelings and memories to fuel yourself as you move forward in your current work.
Push through the fear
Self-doubt can be crippling and leave you scrambling back to your comfort zone. It can be paralyzing in the sense it stops you moving forwards. It’s very easy to tread water and maintain a safe position when you’re riddled with doubts about your abilities.
Despite the fears and negativity, a good way to potentially destroy self-doubts is by quickly and decisively moving out of your comfort space. Force yourself to go through with a decision or course of action, even if you’re facing overwhelming fear about being unable to achieve whatever it is.
Of course, it must logically be a good decision. If you know deep down that something has a good chance of working and it’s merely your fears holding you back, then press that button and move forwards. Often, when we push through the fear, we gain a renewed vigor, focus, and courage.
Hire a mentor
Solopreneurs work long hours alone. When you’re growing and running your own business, then there can be precious few people who really understand what you’re going through. You also have to deal with your crippling self-doubt alone and all the associated thoughts.
When you doubt things, you begin to chop and change tactics, strategies, and ideas, which can leave you stuck in an endless loop.
Many, if not all, successful solopreneurs have hired mentors. These are people who trod a similar path before and have a lot more experience in running and marketing a business. There’s no shame in asking for help and guidance. In fact, it’s probably essential, especially if you’re dealing with chronic self-doubt.
Keep a momentum
Successful businesses run on momentum. The solopreneur is always doing something to push the business forward. Whether it’s marketing, developing new products, networking, or pitching, there’s always something to be done to move things in a positive direction.
Regardless of doubts and fears, always ensure you’re doing something to move forwards, however small that might be. These small steps quickly add up to big ones. When you go in the right general direction, then you’re likely to meet with opportunities you may never have previously imagined possible.
Overriding chronic self-doubt
It’s perfectly natural to feel self-doubt on occasion. Everyone does, even when you practice all of the above techniques. There will be moments of sudden fear or confusion which will make you sit down and consider your direction. However, what differentiates successful solopreneurs from everyone else is their ability to overcome these panicky moments and push through regardless.
Successful business owners harness these moments of fear. They either identify them for what they are – illusory negative thought patterns – or recognize them as a warning sign that they need to recheck their course of action. Once checked, they either continue or gently adapt.
What they don’t do, is become paralyzed with indecision, anxiety, and constant course changing. If this is a negative pattern you notice in yourself, then it’s time to practice the above mentioned techniques.
With a little awareness and persistence, you’ll be able to bring to light your damaging self-doubt and take the required action to dissolve it.