Believing in yourself is the first key to success.
Believe in yourself and the world will be at your feet.
Believe in yourself and you will be unstoppable.
You’ve seen the quotes, read the articles, probably seen the interviews too. They all tell you how critical belief is if you want to achieve anything great in life. And yet, if you’re honest that isn’t exactly how you feel sometimes, OK let’s get real here, a lot of the time.
Because there’s a voice that you just can’t escape from. It pipes up whenever you’re trying to do something big. It asks: ‘Are you sure you’re doing the right thing?’ Worse still if you’re putting the effort in but not seeing the results, it will ridicule you: ‘You’re crazy to waste your time on this. Why did you think this would ever work? You don’t know what you’re doing. Just forget about it!’
That voice will make you question your abilities, your sanity and stop you dead in your tracks.
By the time it’s done with you, you have no choice but to face the truth:
You’re just not good enough to make those dreams come true.
The myth of unwavering belief
Would it surprise you to know that even some of the most famous and successful people in the world have battled with self doubt. From Leonardo da Vinci to Abraham Lincoln they all heard the voice of that inner critic. The one that says you’re not good enough and that your opinion is worthless. The one that tries to hold you back from grabbing hold of opportunity. That oh so persuasive voice urging you to give in and give up.
Yet in spite of that they carried on, creating fantastic works and achieving great things in the world. Are they just special beings blessed with magical qualities, or are they just like us except that they found a way to succeed in spite of it?
You will stumble and fall
Sometimes we think that great accomplishments come from those with so much belief that they’ve never wavered. Yet the reality is so different, after all we are all human.
When things go wrong, when others criticise and ridicule us, when we can’t seem to find a way to make things work, we all question ourselves and our abilities, even if it’s for a moment.
I deal with self doubt all the time.
- I doubt myself most times I put pen to paper and express my thoughts. The voice says: ‘Why waste your time, no one cares and your opinions don’t matter’.
- When I’m working on that project, the voice says: ‘You’re no expert, why would anyone listen to you.’
- When I get excited about bringing my dreams into reality the voice derides: “It’ll never happen, you’re just not good enough.”
But if it’s one thing that you can learn from those doing great things, it’s that self doubt is normal. What makes the difference in how your life turns out, however, is what you choose to do when that voice speaks to you.
Do you crumble or do you keep fighting?
You have to get up and keep going
So how do you keep going when you just don’t believe you can?
- Reconnect with your why. Why are you pursuing this goal? Why is it essential that it happens? What drives you to make it a reality? Focus on what you want and where you want to be and let that compelling reason and vision be your north star.
- Distract yourself. Take time away to focus on something else and remember to be kind to yourself. Listen to music, watch a movie, play a game, go for a walk. Just detach for a while. Make sure that the negative voice doesn’t take over and drag you down.
- Cultivate a different voice, one that balances the negative. When the voice speaks up, interrupt it and refute its arguments. Remember the good things you’ve done in the past. Find some positives about yourself, they’re there if you just look for them. I like David Goggins’ idea of the cookie jar, a reserve where you keep examples of your successes, obstacles you’ve overcome in the past, things you’ve achieved. You keep dipping into it whenever you need.
- Connect with others for a dose of optimism and inspiration. Is it a friend who will help you put your thoughts into perspective or the words of a motivational speaker? Maybe it’s the story of someone who has overcome obstacles to achieve their goals. Whatever the source, get the boost you need to keep going or get back on track. I have a playlist with some of my favourite inspirational talks, more often than not it’s enough to give me a kick up the backside and help me refocus.
- Tackle the voice head on. By that I mean you address its concerns directly. Remember at some level the inner critic is trying to protect you, so look at its concerns with honesty. Is it highlighting a gap in your skills or knowledge that you need to address? Are the concerns valid or are they blown way out of proportion once you’ve examined them? This can go a long way to neutralising its power.
- Finally and probably most important of all is to eliminate the excuses and take action. When it comes down to it self-doubt is really an excuse not to take action. Yes, you may rationalise it as lots of good reasons why you can’t or shouldn’t but the result is it holds you back. The antidote to that is to take action even if it’s one tiny step.
You have a choice
Now you could choose to believe the voice and stay as you are, riddled with self doubt but seemingly safe, or you could choose to keep going in spite of your doubts.
I guess it all depends on how important your dream is to you.
Just imagine if Michelangelo had let a lack of belief in his abilities keep him from painting ‘The Last Judgement’ in the Sistine Chapel.
Or John Steinbeck had never published ‘The Grapes of Wrath’.
What a loss to the world that would have been.
So when you hear that critical voice in your head and you feel like giving up.
When you don’t believe that what you want is possible.
When you don’t believe that you have what it takes.
Just imagine what greatness could be inside you waiting to be unleashed.
Don’t you owe it to yourself and the world to find out?