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Last Updated on September 28, 2018

How Self Doubt Keeps You Stuck and How to Overcome It

How Self Doubt Keeps You Stuck and How to Overcome It

We have all been there.

At some points in our lives, we question ourselves whether we are doing good enough, what consider as successful or are we capable for all the uncertainties that might come up as we grow older.

We doubt about decisions and choices we made or simply feeling “I am just not good enough for that.”

That’s what we called self-doubt.

Self-doubt occurs when we are lack of confidence or feeling incapable of doing things we need to do. People who doubt about themselves panic about things would go out of control or not going the way as they expected.

A certain level of self-doubt is good because it indicates you understand what you need to improve in order to do a better job. (Just remember that doesn’t mean what you are doing is not good!)

However, persistent fear and self-doubt can hugely affect your life, in a bad way.

How self-doubt keeps you stuck

Let’s picture this:

Your boss has assigned you an important task because he thinks you are the most suitable person in the room. But instead of taking it as a recognition of your work performance, you started to panic.

You panic about whether you are capable of doing a great job and failing to perform well will become a big joke at work. You spend time stressing over every single decision you made and picture how things might go wrong.

It’s not surprising that fear will then play a big role in your own little drama. It brings you to his best friend named procrastination. You delay your work and feeling demotivated.

At the end of the story, you hand in your work at the very last minute and of course, it’s not hard to guess you will have the feeling of “I can actually do better than this”.

Why would you doubt yourself?

What causes self doubt? There’re plenty of reasons behind this evil and I’m going to explain each of them here:

1. Past experience and mistakes

Past experiences can have a huge impact on how we react, especially if you have had bad experiences before like a really broken relationship or being fired without a concrete justification.

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Past experience can shake and rattle our beliefs. However, you have to understand that your past cannot be altered but you need to stay stuck with it.

Keep referencing to past experiences without learning from them is just a waste of your bright future!

What you need to understand:

You have to understand that your past cannot be altered but you need to stay stuck with it.

Keep referencing to past experiences without learning from them is just a waste of your bright future!

2. Childhood upbringing

Our upbringing plays a big role in shaping our habits and personalities.

If you are raised by parents that constantly telling you that you are not good enough or natured by schools that judge students heavily on their grades, you might have already internalized the habit of questioning yourself since you were a child.

What you need to understand:

Tell yourself that you are a grown up now and this is YOUR LIFE. You are capable of making the best decision for yourself. You no longer need to seek approval from either your parents and teachers at school.

Education and what you have learned so far in your life have shaped you into a better person than you were 10 years ago.

3. Comparisons with others

It’s not surprising for us to compare ourselves with others because we are living in a world of competition.

We can easily compare our work performance with colleagues or simply in the overwhelming world of social media. It’s easy for us to envy others’ lives and thinking that we are not doing just as great as they are.

What you need to understand:

Comparing yourself with others is sometimes a good practice because by looking at what you are lacking, you can find ways to improve yourself so you can become better at what you do.

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But when you’re comparing too much with others about what they have and what you lack, you’ll start to lose yourself.

It comes down to the old and cliche saying — learn to appreciate yourself.

This is very true because we are all different and we are all good at different things. That’s just not fair if you judge a goldfish by its inability to climb a tree (or simply living on the ground.)

4. The rise of new challenges

This is a pretty normal case because we have no experience on how to react or what are the things that we need to do. The feeling of uncertainty and insecurity will make you feel uncomfortable.

What you need to understand:

Instead of thinking that you are not capable, take it as a chance to learn.

I am sure we all didn’t have the knowledge on how to walk properly when we were young but I am sure you are all doing a great job now, isn’t it?

Remind yourself that it’s okay to make mistakes because we all learn how to become better along the way.

5. Fear of failure / Fear of success

Take Eilizabeth Gilbert as an example. She is the author of the book Eat, pray, Love that sold more than 10 million copies around the world.

However, In her book Big magic-Creative Living Beyond Fear, she revealed that this success had also once become her biggest nightmare because she wasn’t sure whether she could replicate her success.

This can happen to all of us. Previous success can become our biggest fear because we might think that’s the best we can deliver and we will never produce anything that’s equally better.

What you need to understand:

Instead of thinking about how to replicate the success, think about how to outperform your success because doing the same great thing twice doesn’t mean you are better than before.

Learn from your success, knowing that even though you are good at something, there are ways that you can do better.

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Focus on amplifying instead of replicating, take it as a motivation to encourage yourself to do better, becoming greater at you are already good at! You should not be limited by your strength!

How to overcome self-doubt

So what can you do to overcome self doubt and be confident again no matter how tough things go?

1. Ground yourself and say stop!

Once you discovered there are negative voices running inside your head, try to stay in the present moment and focus on the positives are keys to set you free.

Try to prepare something positive so you can go through whenever you feel negative or unsure about yourself. Ideas on what you can prepare:

  • A list of counter arguments. Things like “I can do this.”, “It’s just another chance for me to learn.” ,”Wasting time on doubting myself cannot help with the situation” and “He/She is doing great but I am not bad too!”
  • A jar that contains all your happy memories
  • A file that contains all the photos that make you smile
  • A list of quick energy-boosting activities you can do
  • A box of healthy snacks that you can always go to

2. Take a break and get a boost of optimism.

Sometimes the longer we feel stuck in a situation or emotion, the harder it is for us to come out.

Just take a moment to relax and shifting your focus to something totally different. By doing so, it can allow us to clear out mind and look at things from a new and fresh perspective.

3. Don’t be afraid to seek help.

While it is important to work on ourselves, it’s also a good idea to get support from your loved ones.

They can be your partner, family members, friends, mentors, supervisors or even a coach.

Getting advice and reassurance from others can also improve our self-confidence and keep us motivated.

4. Take this 21-day challenge on regaining self-confidence.

I have this one great approach that has successfully helped me to build my confidence and become a person with gratitude.

I write things down, just as simple as it sounds.

By writing down things that make me question myself and review weekly, I am able to identify what makes me scared and have developed ways to improve myself.

And by writing down things that I am grateful for, I started to appreciate myself more and focus on what I have instead of what I am lacking.

I even stopped comparing myself to others because by looking at what I wrote reminds me that I am happy with my own life.

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A lot of people might think writing journal is a waste of time because we have to spend long hours keeping a record of what has happened but that’s not necessarily the case.

This is my 21-day plan on regaining self-confidence and you should give it a try too!

Day 1 to 7: Starting by “Write 3 things that you are grateful for.”

Review them at the end of the week and you will soon realize, the more you write, the more you will see there are actually a lot of things that can make you happy.

Day 8 to 14: On top of what you have been recording, “Write down times that you feel unsure about yourself and possible reasons behind.”

At the end of the week, you should be able to identify what are your biggest fear and moments that make you feel stressed.

During the review process, you can start to think of ways to solve your problems, it can be “focusing more on myself” or things you think you need to improve on.

I named mine “My awesome plan of attack.”

Day 15 to 21: Write down what you have done to overcome your uncomfortable feelings and how you feel.

No matter what you have done, write them down and recognize yourself!

We all need motivation along the way and no matter how small the steps you have taken, it’s an achievement and they indicate that you are one step closer to what you want to achieve!

Doing so does not only motivates you, it helps you to keep track with your progress and becoming the person you want to become.

Final thoughts

It’s common and normal to doubt ourselves, but you need to understand that staying stuck and panicking for too long won’t do you any good and it’s just a waste of time.

Try to get out from the loop as soon as you can and spend time on improving yourself. Don’t give up! You can do it!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

More by this author

Anna Chui

Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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Last Updated on February 15, 2019

How SMART Goal Setting Makes Lasting Changes in Your Life

How SMART Goal Setting Makes Lasting Changes in Your Life

SMART goal setting is one of the most valuable methods used by high achievers today to actualize their life goals time after time. SMART goal setting is the inverse of random or carefree goal setting without strategy.

Perhaps, you’ve always wished to get back in shape but failed to act; or wished to get an annuity in place but failed to act; or wished to have control over your finances but failed to act. When you approach your goals with a carefree and nonchalant attitude you’re less likely to achieve them.

You should have a strategic goal setting method in place. It ought to be a time-tested and proven one. It ought to be purposeful. Without any of these considerations in view a person is likely to continue in a vicious cycle of failed goal realization.

To achieve your goals consistently and join the pack of high achievers out there who have consistently achieved much of their goals you must be prepared to do what these set of persons have been doing, and be ready to do the right thing: SMART goal setting.

What is SMART goal setting?

SMART goal setting is a goal setting method that considers certain factors about a goal relative to the person setting it. These factors are simply the five different letters in the SMART acronym.

It is relative to the person setting the goal because what is true for A may not be true for B; or what is possible for A or within A’s ability to achieve may not be possible for B or within B’s ability to achieve.

The acronym SMART can be broken down thus:

  • S—Specific
  • M—Measurable
  • A—Achievable
  • R—Realistic
  • T—Time bound

Is it possible that this acronym can make a long lasting impact in your life?

Is it possible that a mere goal setting metric like SMART can help you achieve so many of your unfulfilled goals?

Is it possible that if you practice SMART goal setting you would be able to have faster results, understand your goals better, overcome the habit of procrastination, and achieve a lot?

The power to achieve your goals is in your hands.

It is important to extend the enquiry by asking:

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  • How many times have you said you’ll read two books every week but failed to do so?
  • How many times have you said you’ll cut down on your expenses so you can save enough money to make a down payment for that apartment building you said you’ll buy five years ago but failed to do so?
  • How many times have you failed to keep to your diet routine even after all the tears you shed realising you keep adding pound upon pound every day?

We all have goals and we all have twenty four hours at our disposal and no one has more or less of it. While some people find it easy to achieve their goals without procrastinating. some find it difficult doing so.

For some people who have succeeded again and again in achieving their goals they have simply found out an easy way of doing this. Is there something they know that you don’t?

How SMART goals make a lasting impact in your life

Through SMART goal setting, Stephen Cooley was able to grow his real estate business to the point of closing at $110 million in sales when the average price point of homes was between $100, 000 – $200, 000 in South Carolina.[1]

Through SMART goal setting Steve Jobs was able to improve the fortunes of Apple and prevent the company from going bankrupt even when it had barely 90 days left before being declared bankrupt.

SMART goals setting can make a lasting impact in your life:

1. Make your goal clearer

When you use SMART goal setting it is easier for you to understand the various phases of your goal.

By using SMART you’re able to ask yourself relevant questions pertaining to your goal.

2. Motivate you into acting on your goals

When you use SMART goal setting and break down the goal into smaller goals or milestones, the bigger goal no longer looks intimidating or impossible.

Jack Canfield, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul wrote in his book How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be about how they applied the rule of five in marketing their book, Chicken Soup and were able to make the book a best seller after some months. The rule of five simply means doing five specific things every day that will move you closer to achieving your goal.

In order not to be overwhelmed too, you would have to measure your performance using the right metrics. Here we are considering the Measurable and Achievable aspects of the SMART acronym. It is critical that you measure yourself in terms of lead measures.

What are lead measures? They are the things you do that leads you closer to your goals. On the other hand you would have to avoid “lag measures.”

While lag measures mean a successful outcome that you wished for and got, they can be emotionally draining and deceitful because whenever they don’t happen, you can become discouraged and so leg measures do not necessarily mean that you are getting closer to your bigger goal.

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So it is better to stick to lead measures.

3. Help you save you time

You can achieve more when you’re strategic with your goal setting task.

To be strategic, your goal would have to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time framed. If you can’t identify any of these points in your goal, you probably will be wasting your time on a wild goose chase.

When your goals are written down, it’s easier for you to go into action mode.

4. Improve your self-discipline

Self improvement is an important thing for everyone to do periodically. When you set SMART goals, it makes you realize that you have to sit up and work on achieving them.

How to set a SMART goal

To make your SMART goal works, follow the following tips:

Specific

Every goal ought to be specific. It is important to guard against making vague goals because even when they are achieved you may not know. This is because you weren’t specific enough.

For instance “I will start planning toward retirement” is vague. Rather than write that you could say, “I will start planning toward retirement by starting an annuity plan.” This is more specific.

So when you are specific on your goal it’s easier for you to identify all its components and work accordingly toward achieving it.

Measurable

Your goals must be measurable. When they are measurable, it’s easier for you to follow through.

A goal like this is not measurable, “I want to make millions of Dollars.” You can make it more measurable by saying, “I want to make one million Dollars selling one hundred thousand copies of my book at ten Dollars each.”

Also, using our example while explaining the Specific acronym, you can make the goal more measurable by saying, “I will start planning toward retirement by starting an annuity plan and saving $500 every month.”

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Achievable

How realistic or actionable is your goal? Is it practical enough to fit into a given time frame? Is it something you are able to achieve in your capacity?

A man would only be setting himself up for failure if he sets goals that are not reasonable.

A goal like this is highly unrealistic and therefore not achievable: “I want to be the Governor of Texas in six months” meanwhile the elections will be coming up in the next three years.

Goals must be written down relative to the experiences of the one setting them. They must resonate with you. It is important that you have at least some of the resources needed to actualise this goal.

It is also important that you consider your time frame. When the time frame to achieve a complex goal is too short it is rare that such goal will be actualised.

Thus, using our previous example if you write “I want to make one million Dollars in ten days selling one hundred thousand copies of my book at ten Dollars each,” you would only be setting up yourself for failure.

This is especially true if you’re not a popular author or if you’ve never sold even up to one thousand copies of any of your previous books whether e-copy or in print.

Realistic

Before you proceed to making the commitment toward that goal you need think about how realistic it is.

Being realistic means you should be willing to make all the commitments required for that goal to be achieved.

Time framed

Every goal must have a commencement date and an end date written down. It is also important that you break down your goals into phases, chunks, bits, or milestones.

The act of having deadlines set to your goals is ample motivation that drives you into action. Without a deadline, it is not possible for you to know if you’re making headway with your goals.

“I will start planning toward retirement by starting an annuity plan and saving $500 every month for the next twenty five years” is a time framed goal.

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Remember that some goals are short term while some are long term. It is important to always bear this in mind because this will help you in making a clearer and realistic strategy for your SMART goal setting.

Without SMART goal setting in view, much of our goals may likely end in our minds or on paper or just midway into implementation. SMART goal setting reveals to us all the action points of our goals and helps us to have an awareness of every aspect of our goals.

Over to you: Time for you to act now

I could go on and on. What matters at the end of the day is what you do with the contents of this article because the power to achieve your goals is in your hands.

It is not enough having a goal. It is not enough putting it down in writing. It is important having a strategy in mind while putting it down. This strategy is a guideline or set of rules that guide you. It is SMART goal setting in the given circumstance.

After writing down your goals you would have to be ready to take action. There should be a clear action point. Write down what you need to do on daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

As a matter of practice, it is important that you begin by putting down a single statement that captures best your goal. For instance, “I want to own a $200, 000 worth duplex by 1st of August, 2019.”

Now, you can break this goal into smaller goals by saving $17, 000 per month for the next twelve months. You would have to ask yourself if this $17, 000 is within your reach on a monthly basis. If you make up to $25, 000 per month and you spend $5000 for monthly upkeep then it is possible setting aside $17, 000 every month for this purchase.

When your goals are realistic, they make them worth the chase. One of the things to bear in mind is that in order not to be overwhelmed by the daunting nature of your goals remember to always break them into milestones, chunks, or bits. In fact, take one day at a time.

Do not bother yourself with the one year, three year, five year or ten year plan as this may likely overwhelm you with fear and doubt. Let your focus be on each day. What will I be doing today? Consider this and go for it.

More Resources About Setting & Achieving Goals

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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