Successful people in every industry have doubted themselves. If you have never had any doubts about yourself, there is something wrong with you. But, too many people let self-doubt plague them. They never make any progress because they constantly second guess themselves. They are unable to take bold decisive action because they are afraid of screwing up. If this describes you, you need to learn to put self-doubt in the past and keep it there.
You have to accept that things will go wrong. Mistakes will be made. You don’t have to like making mistakes, but you do have to let go of the fairytale that you will get everything right the first time. Perfection is the enemy of success. The Wright brothers took years to get their airplane off the ground. Do you know how long their first flight was? Twelve seconds. That’s it. Twelve seconds of flight is not aviation perfection. Even by the standards of the time, it was a let down. But, they had finally done something. If they had waited until their machine was perfect, somebody else would have created the aviation industry.
Once you give yourself room to make mistakes and accept imperfection, you take away the power your doubts have over you. You can begin to ignore them.
Assess and Decide
Not all doubts are counter-productive. You should question your assumptions. But, you need to learn the difference between assessing and self-doubt. It is okay to ask if your plans are feasible. You can evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your operation. But, you cannot engage in worries about your competence. Self-doubt is always general. It isn’t about the soundness of a strategy; it is about your fears that you are not smart enough, skilled enough, or worthy enough to succeed. You need to learn to tell the difference between legitimate questions and self-doubt. You can answer questions. You cannot satisfy your doubts. You have to ignore them.
After you assess the situation you need to make a decision and move on. Access and decide. Once you make a decision and start executing, it is harder for self-doubt to stop you. If you genuinely lack an important skill, decide to get that skill. Decisions kill doubts.
One mental hack you can use to help you push away your self-doubt is to visualize your doubts. Close your eyes. Imagine yourself standing on a line that extends in front of you forever. That is your future. Now imagine that same line also extends behind you forever. That is your past.
Imagine you have put all of your self-doubts on a piece of paper. Next, visualize that piece of paper traveling behind you. It is getting smaller and smaller. Soon it is too far away to see. You have placed your self-doubts in the past.
The next time you feel yourself doubting, remember the image of your doubts disappearing into the past. Tell yourself you left those doubts behind. After reminding yourself that your doubts are gone, do something to move your dreams forward right away.
Pushing your self-doubt into the past takes practice. You will need to be patient with yourself. When you doubt, don’t think that you are failing. Realize you are improving. With even just a little practice, you will see the strength of your doubts fade. If you are diligent, eventually your self-doubt will only exist in your past.