“I’m no good at this.” “I don’t know what I’m doing.” “I’m faking it and I’m afraid they will find out.” “What makes me think I can do that?” “I don’t deserve it.”
It may surprise you how often I hear small business owners tell me these things about themselves. It happens in every sector from Acupuncturists to web designers. These voices are often the most challenging part of being a business owner, and they can derail your efforts fast.
I’ll let you in on a little secret . . . EVERYONE feels this way at some point or other. I’ll admit, I struggle with these thoughts myself even though I’ve run my own business successfully for more than a decade.
Many small business owners are overwhelmed by defeating self-talk, negative thoughts, and plain old fear. If you can overcome the negative thoughts, you will demolish the obstacles that keep you from reaching your goals and achieving your dreams. And, as Dr. Daniel Amen says, “You don’t have to believe everything you think.”
Here are 6 steps to overcoming negative self-talk and fear:
1) Listen to the defeating self-talk and name the fear
It may sound counter-intuitive, but the first step to overcoming these challenges is to look them squarely in the eye and identify them for what they are. What is it that is the real cause of your anxiety and self-doubt? What are you really afraid of?
Are you a of looking silly to your friends? Afraid of succeeding? Of failing? Afraid of dying? Afraid of living? Are you afraid of the dark? The light? Feeling good? Feeling bad? Naming your fear is the first step in overcoming it.
2) Assess if it is a “logical” fear or one that you can do without
If you are out walking through the woods during bear season it’s normal to have some fear. That kind of fear is a healthy, logical and an important fear to have. Hold on to it. Be vigilant, and if you confront a bear you will be ready.
On the other hand, if you are feeling fear because you have to make a few sales phone calls and don’t want to get rejected…well, that fear is not logical or founded in reality. You want to overcome that fear so you can be successful.
3) Focus on something that is more important to you than the fear
When a client comes to me overwhelmed with fear I try to get them to remember the vision that got them into business in the first place. I encourage them to remember how they intended to make the world a better place when they first had the idea for the business. I urge them to think about the many people whose lives will be made better because of their efforts—clients, customers, employees, and even their own family members. Focusing on the big picture can drown out the voices of fear and doubt.
4) Break down the job into smaller, bite sized tasks
Looking at a large project can become overwhelming. The best way to defeat those feelings is to look at it as a series of smaller projects and tackle each one as they arrive. You remember how to eat an elephant don’t you? That’s right, one bite at a time!
5) Remind yourself of when you successfully did the task (or something similar)
Much of our negative self-talk centers around thinking we aren’t qualified to do the job. That’s hogwash! Most likely you have done this task (or something like it) successfully many times before. I suggest you make a list of the activities you have successfully accomplished that are like the smaller chunks you identified in step number 4. When you feel overwhelmed just look at the list and say, “I can do this. I’ve done it before!”
6) Express gratitude
If you are a small business owner you have much to be grateful for. You are engaged in an activity that many people envy! You get to work for yourself, make key decisions, and enjoy the fruits of your labor. When was the last time you took time to express gratitude for the joy of owning your own business? Now would be a good time!
These 6 steps will help you overcome what many find to be the biggest challenge to running a small business—negative self-talk, fear and doubt. Try them out the next time you find yourself there, and you will gain the courage to move beyond the challenges.