If you’ve clicked on this article, there’s a good chance you’ve been wrestling with self-doubt and limiting beliefs, especially as they relate to your career. If so, welcome. You’re in good company, and you’ve come to the right place. Sit down, grab a cup of your favorite beverage, and let’s have an honest chat.
You see, self-doubt is like sneaky little gremlins that creep into the corners of your mind, often when you least expect it. They whisper things like, “You’re not good enough,” or “Who are you to aim so high?” Worse yet, it is a master of disguise, often parading around as rational thoughts or even facts.
Sound familiar? If it does, you’ve already taken the first step: awareness. Knowing these gremlins exist and identifying their messages as less-than-truthful is crucial. Now, let’s dive into how to tackle them head-on, so you can move forward in your career with confidence and courage.
7 Signs of Self-Doubt: How to Recognize When You’re Holding Yourself Back
Sometimes, self-doubt can be a sneaky companion, subtly influencing your actions and decisions without you even realizing it. Recognizing the signs is the first crucial step toward regaining control of your career journey. So, what should you look out for? Here are some telltale signs:
Do you find yourself postponing tasks or decisions related to your career? If the reason behind the delay is not about gathering more information but more about your fear of failure or judgment, then that’s a sign of self-doubt.
Coaching moment: Make a small commitment to move forward. It can be as simple as setting a deadline for a decision or starting a task you’ve been avoiding.
The act of taking action can break the cycle of procrastination.
If you find yourself caught in a loop of excessive thinking and what-ifs concerning your career choices or performance, chances are that you’re battling self-doubt.
Coaching moment: Break the cycle by talking it out with someone you trust or jotting down your thoughts.
Sometimes, the mere act of externalizing these thoughts can help you see them more objectively.
3. Seeking Constant Reassurance
While it’s normal to seek feedback, needing constant validation from peers, mentors, or superiors could be an indicator that you doubt your own capabilities.
Coaching moment: Recognize that while feedback can be valuable, your own assessment of your work and potential is equally important.
Learn to trust your judgment.
4. Avoiding Challenges
If you shy away from tasks that are slightly out of your comfort zone, it might be because you doubt your ability to complete them successfully.
Coaching moment: Start small. Take on a manageable challenge and see it through to completion.
Success in smaller tasks can build your confidence for bigger challenges.
5. Minimizing Achievements
Do you attribute your successes to luck, timing, or other people’s efforts rather than your own skills and hard work? Are you undermining your biggest achievements? That’s a classic sign of self-doubt.
Coaching moment: Celebrate your wins, no matter how small.
Recognize and honor the effort and skill it took to achieve them.
6. Excessive Worry About Others’ Opinions
If you’re overly concerned about what others think of your performance or choices, to the point where it paralyzes you or affects your decisions, you’re likely experiencing self-doubt.
Coaching moment: Remember, you’re the captain of your career ship. Others can offer guidance, but ultimately, you’re the one steering.
7. Negative Self-Talk
Phrases like “I can’t do this,” “I’m not good enough,” or “I don’t belong here” are strong indicators of self-doubt.
Coaching moment: Be your own cheerleader. Replace negative self-talk with affirmations or constructive thoughts. Instead of “I can’t do this,” how about “I’ll do the best I can”?
Recognizing these signs in yourself is not a reason for more self-doubt; it’s a proactive step to overcome self-doubt. The first step in solving any problem is recognizing that there is one.
So give yourself a pat on the back for that, and let’s work on slaying those self-doubt dragons, shall we?
How to Overcome Self-Doubt? 13 Steps to Unlock Your Highest Possibilities
Let us see a step-by-step process that you can use to overcome self-doubt in a comprehensive manner.
1. Identify the Source
Where do these limiting beliefs come from? Is it a past failure, societal expectations, or maybe an off-hand comment someone made years ago?
Pinpointing the origin can help you realize that these thoughts may not be rooted in current reality.
Coaching moment: Grab a notebook and jot down some of these limiting beliefs you have. Then, try to trace them back to their origin.
You might be surprised to see how outdated or irrelevant these sources are to who you are today.
2. Challenge Your Thoughts
Alright, now that you’ve got those gremlins out in the open, let’s question them.
Why do you believe you’re not good enough? According to whom? What evidence is there to the contrary?
Often, when you challenge these thoughts, you’ll find they crumble like a house of cards.
Coaching moment: List down three achievements or qualities that counteract each limiting belief. Whenever the gremlins start whispering, remind yourself of these truths.
Over time, this positive reinforcement will crowd out the negativity.
3. Set Incremental Goals
Limiting beliefs often make mountains out of molehills. The journey ahead seems so overwhelming that you feel paralyzed. The trick is to break it down into smaller, manageable tasks. You can also follow the process of setting SMART goals.
Each of your accomplishments, no matter how minor, provides evidence against your self-doubt and adds fuel to your self-belief.
Coaching moment: Take one goal you’ve been hesitant about because of self-doubt. Now, break it down into smaller tasks that you can accomplish in a day, a week, or a month.
Celebrate each small win. You’re making real progress, my friend!
4. Surround Yourself with Positivity
The environment you’re in and the people around you can either amplify your self-doubt or help you overcome it. Choose the latter.
Find mentors, role models, or supportive peers who uplift you and provide a different perspective.
Coaching moment: Who in your life supports your career aspirations and dreams? Spend more time with them.
Have deeper conversations, and don’t hesitate to share your fears and doubts. You’ll often find that other successful people have faced similar struggles.
5. Take Action Despite the Doubt
This is the game-changer. Self-doubt thrives in inactivity. The moment you take action, even if it’s a tiny step, you rob those gremlins of their power.
Yes, the first step is the hardest, but it’s also the most liberating.
Coaching moment: What’s one tiny action step you could take today toward your career goal? Could you send out that resume, make that call, or even sign up for that course? Do it now.
Action is the antidote to self-doubt.
6. Seek Professional Guidance
Sometimes, the gremlins are persistent. No amount of self-coaching seems to drive them away permanently. That’s okay.
This is a journey, and it’s perfectly fine to seek external help—career coaches, counselors, or therapists can provide expert guidance.
Coaching moment: If you find that your self-doubt is significantly impacting your life or career, consider seeking professional help.
This isn’t a sign of weakness but rather an act of empowerment.
7. Keep a Success Journal
One of the best ways to counter self-doubt is to have a record of your achievements, no matter how minor they seem. Whenever the gremlins start whispering, flip open your journal, and remind yourself of all you’ve achieved.
Coaching moment: Start a ‘Success Journal.’ Every evening, jot down three things you succeeded at that day. Read these aloud. Let it sink in.
You’re more capable than you give yourself credit for.
8. Adopt a Growth Mindset
A growth mindset, a term coined by psychologist Carol Dweck, is the belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed through hard work and perseverance. Adopting this mindset can be instrumental in tackling self-doubt.
Instead of seeing challenges as threats, view them as opportunities to grow.
Coaching moment: The next time you face a challenge or setback, instead of thinking, “I’m not good at this,” try thinking, “What can I learn from this?”
This shift in perspective makes a world of difference.
9. Build a Strong Support Network
Remember, you’re not in this alone. Aside from mentors and role models, connect with peers who are going through the same struggles. Having a community can offer you not just emotional support but also different strategies to tackle similar problems.
Coaching moment: Consider joining career-oriented groups online or attending networking events in your industry. Engage with others and share your experiences.
You’ll likely find that your struggles are more common than you think, and the shared wisdom can be priceless.
10. Celebrate Your Uniqueness
Self-doubt often comes from comparison. You look at someone else’s career or life and feel inferior. But what you forget is that you have unique skills and qualities that make you stand out.
Instead of comparing, focus on what makes you exceptional.
Coaching moment: Make a list of qualities that set you apart. Are you empathetic? Are you a quick learner? Do you have a knack for creative solutions?
Revel in your uniqueness and consider how it can be an asset in your career.
11. Revisit and Reframe Your Career Goals
Then, take some time to revisit your goals. Are they what you genuinely want, or are they expectations imposed on you by others?
Coaching moment: Take an afternoon off to revisit your career goals. Are they still aligned with who you are and who you want to become? If not, it might be time for some readjustment.
There’s no shame in changing course; it’s a part of growth.
12. Acknowledge but Don’t Dwell on Past Failures
We all have setbacks. You may be remembering some of your biggest failures. They’re a part of the learning process.
The key is to acknowledge them without letting them define you. Learn the lessons they offer and move on.
Coaching moment: Think about a past failure that’s been haunting you. Write down what it taught you and how you’ve grown since then.
Then, quite literally, close the book on it and focus on your next steps.
13. Mindfulness and Meditation
Last but not least, incorporating mindfulness practices can be particularly effective in combating self-doubt. Mindfulness teaches you to be present and to observe your thoughts without judgment.
Coaching moment: Try incorporating 5-10 minutes of mindfulness or meditation into your daily routine. Use this time to observe your thoughts, especially those of self-doubt, as if you’re an outsider.
You’ll find that this detachment makes it easier to challenge and change these thoughts.
When Does Self-Doubt Hamper You the Most in Your Career?
Now that we’ve laid down some actionable strategies for overcoming self-doubt and limiting beliefs, let’s delve into when these gremlins are most likely to strike in your career journey. There are several career stages that can make or break you.
Knowing when you’re most vulnerable can help you prepare and preemptively counter these negative thought patterns.
1. During Times of Transition
Whether it’s your first job, a role change, or even a promotion, transitions are breeding grounds for self-doubt. You’re stepping into the unknown, and it’s natural to wonder, “Am I cut out for this?”
Coaching moment: Transitions are just that—a passage from one stage to another. It’s okay to feel like a beginner again.
Embrace the learning curve; nobody expects you to know everything on day one.
2. When Faced with High-Stakes Decisions
Coaching moment: For big decisions, take your time. Make a pros and cons list, consult trusted advisors, and remember, very few career decisions are irreversible.
You always have the chance to course-correct.
3. After a Setback or Failure
A rejected job application, a project that didn’t go as planned, or even missing out on a promotion can be fertile ground for those limiting beliefs to take root.
Coaching moment: See these setbacks as temporary. Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?” and use that insight to come back stronger.
Remember, every successful person has faced rejection and setbacks.
4. When Experiencing Imposter Syndrome
Ah, the classic feeling that you’re a fraud and it’s just a matter of time before everyone finds out. This often strikes when you’re actually doing well but think you don’t deserve your success.
Coaching moment: Understand that imposter syndrome is a universal experience—even the most successful people feel it.
Think of Your achievements as the result of your skills, talents, and hard work, not just luck.
5. When Comparing Yourself to Others
Social media and networking events make it all too easy to fall into the comparison trap. Seeing someone else’s highlight reel can suddenly make your own path seem lackluster.
Coaching moment: Remember, everyone has their own journey, complete with ups and downs that you don’t see.
Use others as inspiration, but not as a measuring stick for your own worth or progress.
6. During Periods of Burnout or Fatigue
When you’re mentally or physically drained, your resilience against self-doubt wanes. You’re more likely to make mountains out of molehills and take setbacks more personally.
Coaching moment: Learn to recognize the signs of burnout and take steps to recharge. A healthy you is better equipped to tackle self-doubt and continue climbing that career ladder.
7. When Striving for Perfection
Aiming for perfection is like chasing a mirage; it’s unattainable and leaves you feeling inadequate, no matter how well you perform.
Coaching moment: Strive for excellence, not perfection. The latter is an unrealistic standard that will feed your self-doubt, while the former is about doing your best and continuously improving.
8. In the Wake of Job Loss
Losing a job can be one of the most demoralizing experiences, shaking your confidence to its core. You may face huge job loss anxiety.
It’s a time when self-doubt doesn’t just knock; it often kicks down the door. You might start thinking, “Was I ever good enough?” or “Will I find another job?”
Coaching moment: First, know that you are not alone; many successful people have faced job loss and bounced back. It’s okay to feel down, but don’t let this setback define you.
Use this period to reassess your skills, perhaps learn new ones, and explore opportunities you might not have considered before. Have a concrete process of rebuilding your career after job loss.
And remember, your worth is not solely defined by your job title.
9. While Contemplating or Navigating a Career Change
Switching careers is both exciting and terrifying. The excitement comes from the possibilities, the terror from the self-doubt.
Questions like “Am I making a big mistake?” or “Do I have what it takes to succeed in a new field?” are common companions in this journey.
Coaching moment: A career change is a brave step, signifying growth and the pursuit of passion or better opportunities. It’s natural to feel self-doubt when you’re stepping into the unknown. First of all, stay away from common myths about career change!
Take it one step at a time: research, network, and perhaps even try out the new role on a smaller scale (like freelance or part-time work) before making the full leap. Your diverse experience can actually be a strong asset in your new path.
Overcoming Your Self-Doubt: Your Journey to Unshackling Your Potential
Remember, overcoming self-doubt is a continuous process, but it’s one that will yield life-changing rewards. You’ll not only progress in your career but will also experience a newfound freedom in every aspect of life.
So, are you ready to shush those gremlins and step confidently into your potential? Armed with these strategies, the pen is now in your hands to rewrite your career story—one where you’re the hero who overcomes challenges, breaks barriers, and achieves extraordinary success.
Feel that? That’s a newfound sense of empowerment rushing through you. Harness it, celebrate it, and take that first (or next) daring step in your career exploration.