6 Ways to Conquer the Demons of Self-Doubt

“You’ll never succeed.”

“You’re not good enough.”

“You might as well give up now.”

Chances are, you’re hearing things like that every single day.

They don’t come from your friend, or even your enemies.

They come from inside your own head.

Perhaps you’re working towards a big goal: like losing weight and getting fit, or starting up your own business. You might have big ambitions … but you’ve also got to fight a battle against those internal voices.

You’re not the only person who feels that way. We all have to struggle against self-doubt. And we can all overcome those negative, destructive thoughts that hold us back from reaching our goals.

Here’s how.

#1: Remember What You’ve Already Accomplished

You’ve managed to achieve lots of amazing things already. Perhaps you’ve made direct progress towards your goal: you’ve lost 10lbs, so you know you can go on and lose another 10.

Even if your goal is brand-new, you can draw on past accomplishments. Maybe you’re overwhelmed by everything you need to learn in order to get your graduate degree … but you can remember how your hard work paid off when you were an undergraduate, or a high school student.

Do it: Write down three things that you’ve accomplished. It doesn’t matter how big or small they are.

#2: Act Confident

Even if you don’t feel at all confident, you can behave as if you are. Once you start acting confident, you’ll begin to believe in yourself.

Let’s say you’ve started doing freelance photography on the weekends, and you’ve got your first few paying gigs. Your clients don’t need to know that you’re new to this. They don’t need to hear about how nervous you are. If you behave like a professional, they’ll see you as one – and you’ll start to see yourself through their eyes.

Do it: Figure out one way in which you could act confident, starting right now.

#3: Read Success Stories From Other People

Whenever I’ve tackled a big goal in my own life – like losing weight or starting my own business – I’ve been inspired by stories from others.

Lots of people have achieved the goals that you’re working towards. Many of those people will have started off in a worse position than you: they were more overweight, or more deeply in debt, or struggling in all sorts of ways. But they still succeeded … and so can you.

Do it: Look for a book or blog written by someone tackling a similar goal to yours, and read a little bit every day.

#4: Ask For Feedback from a Professional

You might have spent months or years honing your skills in a particular area, but you’re still worried that you’re not good enough.

Find someone professional, and ask them for their opinion. If you’re hoping to write a best-selling novel, hire a writing coach or editor. If you’re planning to start up a restaurant, ask for advice from someone who’s done the same thing. You’ll find out that you’re doing a lot of things right (and you’ll also get a few tips on how to make improvements).

Do it: Consider hiring a coach, or joining a small group or class. You could look locally or online.

#5: Collect Compliments and Testimonials

If you’re working on a long-term goal, chances are that you’ve have some nice comments from other people. Perhaps your friend told you how great you look now that you’ve lost a few pounds, or your first clients raved about what a great job you did for them.

Make sure you keep any encouraging words that you hear. Write down what your friends say. Save all those “thank you” emails. Post your testimonials on your website for the world to read. All of these positive, encouraging voices will help to quiet the demons of self-doubt.

Do it: Look through your emails for any positive feedback, and print it out.

#6: Plan Your Next Few Steps

One of the best ways to overcome self-doubt is to have a clear plan. It’s easy to start thinking “I’ll never do it” if you don’t know what your next steps are.

A clear plan lets you break things down into manageable chunks. It highlights any areas where you’ll need to do further research or get some help. It takes any vague worries and fears and forces them out into the light – where you’ll be able to see plenty of ways to overcome them.

Do it: Write down the next three steps towards your goal.

Are you struggling with self-doubt in any areas of your life? Or have you successfully overcome those self-doubt demons? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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How To Be Happy At Work:Employee Motivation
How To Increase Your Will Power


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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