Silence the Voice of Doubt that Holds You back
Barbara Winter writing about overcoming self-doubt…
After a week spent brainstorming and planning in Switzerland, my business partner and I were headed to Zurich on the train. He was returning to London later that afternoon while I was staying for two more days. As we got closer to our destination he asked, “Where are you staying tonight?” I shrugged and said, “I have no idea. However, I’ve never had to sleep on a park bench so I’m not worried.”
There was a time when I traveled only after I had every little detail in place. Then I decided to shake things up a bit and spent three months traveling with no itinerary. I’d get up in the morning, ask myself, “Where do you want to go today?”, and proceed. Besides being enormous fun, I also established a track record of always finding a place to stay. Doubts that might have plagued me on earlier trips were now permanently discarded.
While we often embrace them as if they’re wise friends keeping us from making dreadful mistakes, they are actually enemies in disguise; keeping us from finding a better way, challenging ourselves, and discovering that we are capable of more than we had previously imagined.
Since I’ve spent the past decades helping folks move past their doubts, I’m intimately familiar with the doubts that plague someone contemplating a dramatic life change.
What if it doesn’t work?
What if my family disowns me?
What if I am a public failure?
These haunting questions can be paralyzing if we give them the power they don’t deserve.
If certainty is your goal, then by all means stay put.
However, if you want to move past your doubts, a more dramatic approach may be necessary.
While Bill Bryson was toiling away at a London newspaper, he was dreaming about being a freelance writer. With a wife and family to support, this seemed a risky and selfish dream…so he continued to drag himself to a job that was growing continually more loathsome. One day he got a call from his wife Cynthia. “I’ve just put the house on the market,” she announced.
Her husband was furious, but she remained firm. “You’ve been talking about quitting your job and it’s time you did that.” Bill decided this was a challenge he needed to tackle.
The London house was sold and the Bryson clan moved north to rural Yorkshire for a new life. His modest goal was to earn a decent living by writing articles and books. As his books began appearing, his popularity grew, bringing him devoted fans from around the world. It makes me shudder to think he could still be cranking out newspaper copy instead of making his devoted fans laugh out loud.
Of course, we don’t all have a Cynthia Bryson to propel us past our doubts, but we can do it for ourselves. A valuable way to begin is by doing your homework. Get advice from reliable sources.
Don’t give into your fears by sharing your plans with someone who hasn’t done anything remotely as brave as you are intending to do.
Track down folks who have made life changes and let them share their stories.
Give yourself permission to make mistakes, mistakes that you will learn from. Remind yourself that new situations will require new perspectives, new skills. Notice and give yourself credit for even your tiniest progress.
In other words, make your goal more important than your doubts.
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