Starting and running a business on your own takes balls. Whether it’s running a big company or working as a solo freelancer, the only one able to make it a success is you. There’s no one to hold your hand or talk you through it. It’s all up to you, your imagination, and willpower. Scary, isn’t it?
Believing in yourself is the most important factor in developing a successful business. Forget about the money, forget about your knowledge, product, or skill set. To realize your dreams, the thing you need the most is the power to believe in yourself.
But it’s hard. We humans suffer. We suffer from fear, worries, and anxiety. Mostly we worry about things that haven’t even happened or happened long ago, which can cause self-doubt.
Fortunately, there are ways to set ourselves free. Here are 10 ways to kick self-doubt’s butt and keep having faith in yourself.
1. Know that it’s okay to fail
“You don’t learn to walk by following the rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over”. – Richard Branson
Until three years ago, I was working in communications. I had a safe, stable office job with a steady income.
Now, I run my own business. I’m a freelancer, I teach surf and yoga, and organize holiday retreats around the world. It’s a small business, but a business nonetheless. More important; I am realizing my dreams.
When I started teaching yoga, a part of me kept thinking I was just messing around. That I ought to go back to an office job, back to working for a boss like most of my friends do.
It took me two years to believe that I was able to do what I want. Last year, I finally organized my first retreat. It was successful beyond my expectations. The thing that got me believing in myself was the realization that it didn’t matter if it failed.
It doesn’t matter if you fail.
Let those words sink in for a bit. Let it become your mantra. It’s OK to fail.
Some of the most successful people have failed before. Walt Disney, Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, they all experienced failure. They just started over again.
Such a relief, right? Let go of that pressure you put on yourself. If you fail, you fail. Learn from your mistakes and move on.
2. Don’t fight it; accept it
The mind is a funny thing. We have the tendency to fight off any bad thoughts or feelings. Negative feelings are terrible, so we want them gone.
But, when I tell you to not think of a pink elephant, what do you do? You imagine a big pink tusker. The harder we try to suppress certain thoughts or emotions, the more they show their face. Try instead to become aware of every moment you feel like that. Try to understand the source behind it.
Then, whenever you catch yourself thinking of that pink elephant in the room, tell yourself it’s OK. Accept it and continue doing your thing.
3. Remember your moments of success
Remember every successful moment, every compliment, every feeling of gratitude. Write them down and read them over and over.
4. Change your body posture
What does your body do when you feel sad or insecure? Your shoulders hunch forward, your energy goes inward. The opposite happens when you feel confident or happy. Your mind influences your body. That we all know.
But it goes both ways. You can influence your mind and emotions by changing your body posture. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows that when you open your shoulders, when you stand tall in a ‘superman’ position for two minutes, you will feel more powerful.
In her case study, she found that ‘high-power posers’ (people standing wide-legged with their hands on their hips) showed an 8% increase in testosterone. The ‘low-power posers’ had a 10% decrease in the same hormone.
That means we can trick ourselves into feeling stronger by simply adjusting the way we use our body. Fake it until we make it. And we not only trick ourselves; we trick others too.
So, next time you lack confidence or you have an important meeting, go pretend your superman for at least two minutes.
5. Listen to motivational speakers
Two of my favorite inspirational speakers are Kyle Cease and Alan Watts. I listen to them regularly and they provide me with insights I kind of already know, but sometimes forget.
“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim, you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, you float”. – Alan Watts
Turn up your volume and listen to this mood enhancing piece of work.
6. Surround yourself with positive people
Some people are born optimists. Other people only see obstacles instead of possibilities.
Surround yourself with people who believe in life’s endless possibilities. They will help you stay stoked about what you’re doing.
7. Stay true to yourself
Don’t sell your soul. Know what you live for and what you desire. If your heart is in it, it’s the right way to go. Believe that and stay with it.
8. Stop comparing yourself with others
Although comparing yourself with others can motivate you to improve yourself, it’s also one of the biggest reasons for self-doubt. There will always be someone who does it better than you do, making you feel like you’re not good enough.
But you are. You are good enough. We are all just different. Learn to appreciate yourself by looking at the things you are good at. Keep on doing the things you love and you’ll become even better.
9. Do breathing exercises and relax
Our mind can be “the ground for both bondage and liberation”. Your self-doubt is created by your mind. Your whole interpretation of the world is created by your mind. We can feel sad in good circumstances or happy in bad circumstances.
When you deeply relax, you can still your mind, and stop the constant chatter in your head.
One way to relax is to meditate. Meditation reduces stress levels, lowers blood pressure, and fills you up with a deep sense of peace. That’s why many of the world’s best leaders and CEOs regularly meditate.
It’s easy to do. Just sit or lie down in a comfortable position. When you’re sitting, make sure your spine is upright and supporting its own weight. You can also use a chair.
Close your eyes and feel how your body connects to the floor. Become aware of the rising and falling of your upper body on the rhythm of your breath. Now, start your inhalations from the belly up. Let your belly expand as you inhale, and sink back as you exhale. Stay with this physical sensation of your breath. Don’t alter your breath, just accept how you breathe right now.
Even doing this for five minutes will make you feel so much stronger. There are many different ways of meditating. Find out what technique works best for you.
10. Just do it
You are not alone. All entrepreneurs sometimes struggle with fears and self-doubt. This is perfectly normal. You can choose to live with it, “feel your fear and do it anyway”, or you let it stop you from turning your entrepreneurial dreams into reality.
What do you choose?