Overcome self-doubt and low self-confidence to reach your full potential

Overcome self-doubt and low self-confidence to reach your full potential
November 14, 2015 David Shanley, Psy.D.

Are you struggling with putting off a goal of yours that you have wanted to achieve for a long time? Maybe you thought this would be the year you picked up that musical instrument, learned a new language, or started your own business. Perhaps you had a good conversation with a friend or loved one that inspired you, or you saw something in a book, movie, or television show and felt motivated to go after your dreams. You can visualize all of the benefits that accomplishing this goal will bring to you, whether professional, personal, or relational, and you feel confident and motivated.

It is healthy for individuals to set goals for themselves. However, often, not long after setting these goals, self-doubt creeps in and we find ourselves feeling stuck and unable to get started on the goal. We may start thinking, “I should have done this already” or “what’s wrong with me that I haven’t accomplished this in my life yet?” Maybe you experience more of the fear of failure thoughts such as “This will never work out,” or “I know I’m going to fail, so what’s the point in trying?”

Unfortunately, millions of Americans struggle with thoughts just like these, and worse yet, we allow the thoughts to limit us from reaching our full potential! We start making excuses for why we can’t get started on accomplishing our goal, “I’m too tired,” “I’ll do it tomorrow,” “I don’t have time,” etc. All the meanwhile, time marches on and life keeps passing by.

Fear not, there are solutions to help overcome these obstacles and get back on track with your goals. First off, give yourself a break. Being aware of what you want to do in your life is a great first step towards getting there, so stop beating yourself up about not being further along in life than you are. Next, practice mindfulness. Stay in the present moment and figure out what you need to do to be effective in that moment. It is so easy to get caught up in thoughts about past failures and future catastrophes. Redirecting your focus back to the present moment will allow you to turn the volume down on these anxiety-provoking thoughts.

Now, to actually get started on your goals, there are a few tricks you can use to help you get going. First, break the larger goal down into smaller objectives. What is the first step that you can take to get on your path? Is it researching an idea, talking to someone, or practicing a new skill for 15 minutes? Next, set a specific schedule for when you are going to complete your first objective. Commit to this and put it on your calendar so that you get used to the idea that this is going to get done. It is a lot easier to procrastinate when there are no deadlines. Set a deadline and commit to it. To help enforce this, think of something positive in your life that you are going to withhold from yourself until you follow through with your objective. If you choose something that matters to you and that you truly don’t want to live without, you will follow through with your objective to earn it.

If you follow these steps, you will begin accomplishing your goals that you may not have thought were possible. Your mind will still want to throw all sorts of thoughts about self-doubt at you. However, in the end, there is doing and not doing. So make the commitment, and go after the life that you deserve.

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