How to Overcome Your Self-Doubt

The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.
— Sylvia Plath

We've all struggled with self-doubt at some point in our lives. Self-doubt causes us to question our ability to produce results or achieve our goals. Self-doubt can create limitations in all areas of your life. Professionally, it may affect your productivity, job performance, and the ability to increase competency in your field. Think about the number of times you refused to try something new because of the fear of failure. Or the number of opportunities you missed because you thought you weren’t good enough? Failure to manage self-doubt can be crippling.

How do you conquer self-doubt?

Recognize that everyone deals with varying degrees of self-doubt

Even highly successful people experience self-doubt from time to time, even Maya Angelou.

“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out." - Maya Angelou.

Identify the cause of your doubts

Are they skill related or just a general feeling of inadequacy towards everything? By identifying the cause of your doubts, you put them in perspective and can begin thinking of ways to overcome them.

A problem well stated is a problem half-solved
— Charles Kettering

Practical step: keep a little notepad with you or use a note app on your phone. Every time you feel doubts creeping in, write down the phrases that pop into your head (i.e. I can’t do this, I will fail, I suck at this, I am not good enough), and what you were doing when this happened. This a good way to figure out what triggers doubts, and provides a starting point for addressing the issue.

Know your strengths and weaknesses

Self-doubt sometimes stems from what you don’t know. A good way to find balance is to focus on your strengths and manage your weaknesses. Think of projects and tasks you've successfully completed and give yourself credit. On the flip-side, acknowledge the things that you struggle with, and develop a plan that will help you improve in those areas.

Set goals and prepare an action plan

What do you want to achieve, and what steps can you take to make things happen? I find it useful to set easy-short term goals that are smaller components of a long term goal I am trying to achieve. The easy-short term goals serve as self-esteem boosters because of the feeling of accomplishment that comes with the completion of each task. I.e. if you want to lose 50lbs, it can be a bit overwhelming. But if you focus on losing 1-2lbs per week, it is less intimidating, and fits into the bigger picture.

Your journey is unique

Avoid comparing yourself to others around you. The only person you are competing with is yourself. No two people are alike, therefore, there is no reason for your life’s journey to be the same. Look at the things that makes you unique and celebrate them.

There are many strategies for overcoming self-doubt. Ultimately, the process starts and ends with you. We all struggle with fear and feelings of inadequacy. Do not let fear and self-doubt stop you from being your best self.