It's normal to have some doubts, especially as an entrepreneur where you have to plow into uncharted territory. But don't fall into the trap of underestimating yourself as a matter of habit, because that quickly stops you from achieving your best. You probably are underestimating yourself if the following are true.

1. Others have to recommend you.

Underestimating yourself doesn't always mean poor performance, and often, others can see that the work you do is good or has potential. But because you're never sure if you can do more than what's on your plate, you don't reach for other opportunities by yourself much.

2. You have a hard time naming your skills and abilities.

Even if you've gotten good results in the past, you might wonder if you're consistent enough for it all to matter. You also might compare your skills and abilities to others and feel like you can't possibly dare to toot your own horn given what others are doing and producing. It might be hard for you to complete tasks that require you to identify your strengths (e.g., tweaking your resume) without support from others.

3. Others always come first.

While putting others first can be a sign of wonderful humility, it also can mean that you don't see yourself as being on the same level as others. You support them or let them go ahead of you because you doubt your worth and ability to succeed.

4. Being around people makes you nervous (even if you're extroverted).

The problem here is that, even while you might enjoy company, you worry about whether you'll be able to match others' expectations and rise to what they want. Deep down, you think they will "find you out". You might not like company events or other social elements of work like making calls because of this.

5. You're strict with your routine (or have absolutely none at all).

Some people who underestimate themselves prefer to keep a predictable agenda because doing anything other than the norm forces them to challenge their self-perceptions. Others end up on the opposite end of the spectrum. Because they're never sure of what they can or should do, they're easily blown into anything and everything. They don't feel a sense of urgency about watching the clock because nothing in particular feels that important.

6. You feel stings of envy when others succeed.

Just because you might not be confident enough to reach for bigger or different things doesn't mean you don't genuinely still want something better. If others do well, you're glad for them, but you also can't help but wish you had whatever led to their success. (The irony is, you probably do!)

7. Others actually call most of the shots.

Underestimating yourself naturally leads to difficulty feeling sure of your decisions. Even if you happen to get into a position of leadership, you might not make a call without seeing what another leader or expert says first. Tons happens behind the scenes before others get an answer from you, and while the final answer might be a good one, others might sense your instability and hesitate to trust you fully. In the worst case scenario, you might find yourself easily manipulated by others.

8. You don't have clear goals.

Making and working toward goals requires you to understand what your strengths and weaknesses are, as discussed above. Since this isn't easy when you underestimate yourself, giving yourself any kind of direction is hard, too. You might find yourself swimming in complacency not because you're totally comfortable with it, but because you don't know where to assert yourself. You might watch as others move on into other positions and you stay right where you are.

If you're struggling with giving yourself your due, you'd likely benefit from activities and practices designed to boost self-esteem. For instance, consciously working against your inner critic (negative self talk), celebrating even small wins, challenging yourself to be your only competition (no more comparing yourself to others), and getting involved in your community all can elevate your self-perception and sense of purpose. Learn to accept compliments when they're offered, and try new things in tiny steps to build your confidence. Before long, you'll be the person others can rest easy in.

Published on: Feb 15, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.