How to Deal with Doubt

Doubt is a big trap for those who want to create change. It comes from a lack of self confidence, and the feeling that we aren’t competent or experienced enough to make the change. We aren’t the sort of people who do this.

We all know or have seen people who are more accomplished than we are. If you want promotion, you’ll know others who are more experienced than you.

  • If you want to date someone, you’ll see others who converse with that person, and who are better  looking or more suave than you.
  • If you want to set up a business, you’ll know how little you know about its practicalities.
  • And if you want to break away from someone or something, you’ll doubt your ability to survive without their support.

All of this can lead to a paralysis.

Some of us who want to be self-employed seek a work partner. I’ve seen that frequently. They want to share the burden, and get someone to be a path finder. They want someone who will be more self-confident than they are. In my experience it’s a limiting route, for various reasons. Let’s say you want to open a restaurant, and you partner with someone. Chances are that in a year’s time, you’ll be falling out with them because they have a different outlook.

Sticking with commercial ventures, many people want to become a franchisee. They know that the franchisor, the business that will sell you the franchise, will look after you and show you how to do it. All of which is true, but there’s a downside. A year after you’ve set up the business, and done all the hard work, you get ‘franchise regret’. You discover that the franchisor doesn’t do much to help you, that you could have discovered the operating procedures yourself and, worst of all, you’re committed to paying the franchise a hefty amount of money in perpetuity.

But at least such people have made the change. Many of us never get that far. And yet ask anyone who made a big change and they will say, ‘I should have done it years ago.’

People rarely regret making a change that failed. But people regret not making the change.

7 ways to overcome doubt

1. Ask yourself, what’s the worst that can happen? It’s usually less than your generalised fears will tell you.

2. Take baby steps towards your objective.

3. Focus on the opportunity. It’s there, waiting for you. It’s your big chance. You owe it to yourself to try.

4. Get support. Find someone who will endorse what you want to do.

5. Minimise your weaknesses. What skills, knowledge or experience do you need? What would give you greater confidence? Amanda buys books on local history, enough to start a second hand bookshop. As a result, she knows more about local history than anyone else. She gave herself a practical project, recording the history of a family of stonemasons who owned our house in the 1800s. It’ll probably turn into an article in the town’s local history yearbook. It’s how she went from knowing nothing about local history to being an expert.

6. Accept setbacks. There will be partial failures along the way. That’s part of the learning experience.

7. Just go do it. Tell yourself you have to do it. Put down the book and do it.

There’s a saying: If you have  to swallow a toad, don’t look at it for too long.

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