Starting a new adventure is scary, and I know that from personal experience—I recently hit the go button on a lot of new things, from a YouTube channel to a new podcast. While sharing my news with close friends, I realized how nervous I actually was about my new projects. I don’t know why I was nervous … I have run and hosted podcasts with major brands, and I’ve been creating video content—that has always been well-received—for years now. So what made hitting the go button this time so damn nerve-racking?
The ugly fear is named doubt, and we all have doubts. Sometimes it feels like it’s built into human nature … and it is. Self-doubt, doubt in others, doubt will find a way to invade our thoughts at one point or another. And I know I can’t be the only one struggling with this when beginning new endeavors.
Nearly a decade ago, after I graduated from an audio engineering program, I found myself in an awkward situation: I was an audio engineer with no clients and very few acts to work with. By the time I realized this was a problem, I had spent three years working on building others’ careers instead of building one of my own.
“What are you going to do to move forward?” I asked myself, and realized the answer was to start building my personal brand. I reached out to people whose personal lives and work inspired me and started picking their brains via interviews. Surprisingly, they all got back to me in less than a month, which I thought was extremely fast considering their busy lifestyles.
[ Social Media Matters, by Alesia Hendley ]
But I still hadn’t started my own platform to share my writing. I doubted myself, thinking, “I can’t start a blog. No one is going to read it anyway.” I started searching for other blogs to feature my stories because I felt my own platform wouldn’t be good enough.
And guess what? I didn’t receive a single response about guest blogging opportunities. That sparked an idea—I was supposed to share these on my own platform. That thought still made me nervous, so I procrastinated some more, and the people I interviewed began to follow up and ask, “Will you ever publish that article?” I was embarrassed, left standing in self-doubt. I didn’t know which way was up, or what was left or right, for that matter.
One of the things that frustrates me most in life is people asking me for help or advice and not taking advantage of the info I give them. And there I was, sitting in self-doubt, not practicing a single word that I had preached. Eight months later, after I began asking myself, “Will you ever publish the article?” I finally woke up and smelled the coffee. It was time to rise and grind. Nobody was going to invest in me if I didn’t invest in myself.
Looking back now, 10 years later, and bringing it to the present day, I am so happy I hit go on blogging, though I am no writing expert. I pushed through the doubt and now I can say I am a published author for major publications like Systems Contractor News (opens in new tab), as you see here today.
Is there an art to avoiding self-doubt? In my opinion, self-doubt doesn’t exist—doubt lives in the past, present, and future—it’s more about how we react to the voice of doubt when it does show up. Here are three powerful tips to hit go full speed beyond a doubt.
It Starts with You
Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Believing in yourself is easier said than done at times, and even the best of us face self-doubt. But if you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. Visualize whatever it is you want, whether it be a successful podcast or winning that large bid at work. Visualize what greatness looks like on the other side of your comfort zone. Then take the initiative each day to push yourself to do something uncomfortable. Send a message to someone you admire on LinkedIn, record a video of yourself, make a call instead of sending a text. Being uncomfortable leads us to being comfortable within our own greatness and helps quiet the doubt.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
We’ve all heard this one: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” I learned this lesson the hard way. Then I found my tribe within the AV community. Some of the closest friends I have in the industry came from building and growing genuine connections with strangers. We all face our own individual challenges in and out of the work environment. Being active and engaged within our community builds trust, and it allows you to create a springboard to bounce ideas off of. Our community is filled with people who want to see you win!
Hold Yourself Accountable
Dreams don’t work unless we do, so we have to hold ourselves accountable. Procrastination is the gateway drug to doubt. The longer you procrastinate, the louder you allow doubt to become. The distance between who we are now and who we want to be is in our actions.
Want to launch something new? Want to gain a specific person or company as a client? Then set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) goals. Begin to approach everything with strong intentions and set a date. Write that date down on your whiteboard, on a sticky note, on your cellphone wallpaper, wherever, but make that date bold. Then tell your tribe. Once you tell people you respect and admire, the more real it becomes.
The only thing that can hold us back is ourselves. Doubts will arise, but it’s up to us to not let them take control. Doubt is a hurdle, not a complete roadblock—treat it as such. Hit go and continue full-speed ahead.
Click here to read more stories from the April 2021 issue of SCN. (opens in new tab)