When your inner critique gets the best of you it can turn your instinct into your worst enemy. But why? In some ways, second-guessing yourself can be good. However, it is in those tiny seconds that self-doubt can creep in and crush your confidence to take action.
Yet, according to Malcolm Gladwell in the first chapter of his book, Blink, our delayed instinct is often to second guess ourselves and our ability. "The first task of Blink is to convince you of a simple fact: decisions made very quickly can be every bit as good as decisions made cautiously and deliberately," says Gladwell. Taking action before self-doubt sets in empowers you to build your instinct muscle before you have the chance to talk yourself out of anything.
If you've been second-guessing yourself most of your life, you might not even realize you're doing it. So, here are three ways to coach yourself out of self-doubt.
1. See the Possibilities
Getting specific with your vision is the first step in goal-setting as it will help you create smaller tasks to accomplish along the way. Focusing on the opportunity is a great way to look at the glass half full. Envision the future state and all the benefits you will receive as as a result of taking action. It will look different depending on how you work best -- talk things through with someone you trust, write in a journal that contains all of your ideas, or make a collage that allows you to see all of your dreams on paper.
These are just a few things you can do to see the possibilities. Once you are able to see the opportunity, you can spend more time getting excited about the potential than convincing yourself it won't work.
2. Silence Your Inner Critic
It sounds easy, but sometimes your biggest bully is looking you in the mirror. Make a written list (or a mental one) of all of the things you've accomplished -- no matter how big or small. What are your strengths? Have you overcome similar tasks before? It won't take long before you see just how much you've got going for you.
Use this list to give yourself a pat on the back. Affirm your strengths, times when you faced adversity and overcome it. You've got a path of proven performance. Focus on the lessons learned and how you overcame the obstacle and use it to fuel your vision for what's ahead.
3. Commit to Action
Just do it. Now that you've clarified your vision and shut down self-doubt, it's time to jump into action. In Mel Robbin's book, 5 Second Rule, readers learn how to count backward from five every time they begin to do something they don't immediately feel motivated to do. Many readers have said this method works wonders for them -- there's a reason why it's a best-seller.
In fact, I recall using this method for myself as a child. It started with overcoming my fear to jump off a diving board. My rule was if I started to count, I was committed and I had to "just do it" by the time I counted to three.
Overtime, I've adopted this approach in business. When I first hosted a my own event designed to address the leadership gap for women called The She-Suite Summit, there were tons of reasons to self-doubt. What if no one attends? What if you can't secure sponsors? What if you can't afford to execute the event in the middle of planning?
The list to quit was growing in my mind before I started. Instead of giving up on the idea, I focused on the possibilities, silenced the inner critic and took action. Our first event was delivered in 2010. Next year will be our fifth year executing this event experience and every year we have grown and it keeps getting better.
Committing to action means do something. Your steps may be small at first, but remember every step is a step in the right direction.
4. Release Expectations
This doesn't mean forget about your original vision or goal. It's more of a state-of-mind: be open to other things that may happen along your journey that you may not have even thought about. Opportunities are likely to pop-up when you least expect it and they just might make your vision even bigger and better than you originally thought.
Self-doubt and second-guessing yourself doesn't change overnight. But like any habit it is build consistently over time. Take time to put these four steps into practice daily to create a new habit that will crush your self-doubt and change your way of thinking for the better.