Some days, we’re on fire. We’re achieving things like a boss and we fly through our to-do list like a productive superhero.
Other days, we are crushed under the weight of self-doubt and imposter syndrome and just can’t seem to do anything except cry into our cornflakes.
So, how do we get motivated when we feel like we’re stuck in the self-doubt quicksand?
I recently had one of these ‘dips’ and it lasted weeks. To the point where work on the IWMLBproject came to a complete halt.
I was struggling with the conundrum of how to make money through the site without feeling like a sleazy car salesperson.
The mega-salesy techniques for some courses and blogs are so gross and I really want to avoid it. I wanted to create courses that felt authentic and that I knew I could actually help people.
I’m only 8 months (as of Nov ’18) into starting my business. So how could I ask people to pay me to teach them how to do something I haven’t done myself?
I can’t do that, but if I can’t do that then what can I do?
No one is going to want to pay for anything else I make.
I’m not very creative, I don’t have enough experience, maybe I shouldn’t be working on this blog at all………….
Cue total meltdown.
This is a snapshot of an email that I sent to my mailing list. Luckily, I stopped short of shaving my head a la Britney Spears.
Yikes. Got 6 unsubscribes from that one. But also a really lovely email from someone who felt the same way about blogging.
It even got so bad that I started to set up another business.
I set up a draft website and started reaching out to people on Facebook, I even helped a few people for free.
But a little voice kept saying “you’ve put so much work into IWMLBproject’, are you sure you want to throw it all away??”
Eventually, after a couple of weeks of doing virtually nothing on IWMLBproject, I gingerly started thinking about it again.
What if I could use my previous career skills (numbers and spreadsheets) to help other women get their finances in shape so that they could save enough money to ‘get their lives back’.
Whether it was saving enough to start a business or take a sabbatical or whatever they wanted to do, money is the key to giving you those options.
I’ve been tracking my spending on a budget spreadsheet since 2007 (I know, total money geek), so I already knew LOADS about saving money and how to track it.
I could combine several my skills and interests into creating a course which helped people on IWMLB project without feeling sleazy or inauthentic.
I wish I hadn’t had to go through this horrible period of self-doubt but maybe I wouldn’t have come to the conclusion I did had I not been through it.
The ridiculous thing is, once I had decided to make the corporate escape plan spreadsheet course, I realised I had already created all the spreadsheets.
A few months back I had the idea for the course but then lost my nerve. So, I already had the content ready, I just need to record some course videos and slideshows.
If you are starting a business or making a major life change then no doubt this will happen to you too. So hopefully my experience will help you get through it with a lot less hair tearing!
If you want to read more about ‘the dip’, Seth Godin wrote a whole book on it called erm The Dip.
Confidence, fears and self-doubt are so bundled up in past experiences, stories we tell ourselves, what we learned from our parents and everything else that we’ve experienced or learned along the way.
Or you suffered something traumatic which has made you doubt yourself.
Sometimes the way to unpick all of this is to find a good therapist and start exploring the reasons for your lack of confidence.
This does cost money (unless you can get it free on the NHS in the UK) and can take time to see results. Well worth doing if you can though.
If your self-doubt is coming from the fear of starting something new, you need to give yourself a bit of a break.
No one started off knowing how to do something. All the businesses or people you look up to or admire started off knowing sweet FA about it. They just learned and grew over time.
Action – I went on a free coaching weekend (where they hard sell you at the end to join their expensive coaching programme obvs). I did learn a cool technique though that helps when you are starting something new and feeling daunted.
Write down all the things you started off not knowing, that you are now awesome at. Sometimes hard to do but it doesn’t have to be complicated. It could be as simple as learning to walk as a one-year old.
Ok, ok, I’ll start. I once reversed the Red Bull car I was driving into a lamppost and smashed a hole in the big can thing on the back. Fast forward 17 years and I am a reverse parking legend.
If you want to do read about the science of motivation, you can do so here.
I was going to try and summarise but I wasn’t very good at science (I sat at the back of the classroom watching the boys play tennis outside).
It’s something to do with dopamine and neurotransmitters *eyes glaze over*.
I much prefer this quote from Psychology Today.
“The way nature gets us to do what it wants is by making it a pleasure.”
Thing is, sometimes it doesn’t feel like a pleasure. Although the outcome seems pleasurable (leave hell-job, start a business, have time to myself, enjoy relaxed life etc), the obstacles to get there seem insurmountable.
So we don’t seem to be able to start.
Action – write down the end goal. How we you feel when you have reached your goal – get the good vibes pumping with the emotions and feelings you’ll experience when you get there.
Now, write down every obtacle you can think of that will stop you achieving your goal. Now write down against it, every solution you can think of to overcome those challenges.
If you genuinely can’t think of a solution, ask a friend. I bet you will be able to find solutions to your problems.
Now of course, life will throw other challenges at you that you hadn’t thought of, but now you know you can find a solution to anything, you’ll feel much more comfortable about facing down problems.
What is the right thing for you? Are you struggling with self-doubt because you are trying to force the proverbial square peg into a round hole?
Sometimes you have to stop and evaluate what you really want. Not what you think you want, or what someone else wants for you.
Sometimes all of these get muddled up together and you need to unpick them to figure out what is really right for you.
After I had my recent self-doubtathon, I took down all of my email opt-ins (the pop-ups etc which you get when you leave the website or embedded in the post) so that I could take a breather and think about what I really wanted to do.
I wasn’t happy with the opt-ins I had, I felt like I was just following some blogging blueprint that didn’t quite sit right with me.
So I got rid of all them except two.
I thought my email sign-ups would nose dive into the floor, but hey, guess what, sign-ups decreased slightly but nothing compared to what I was expecting.
Action – Have a look at a list of values and see what think yours are. Here is one to get you started.
Identify what your values are and whether what you are trying to do aligns with those values.
Otherwise, you could be self-sabotaging because you don’t really want to do it!
Sometimes you just need to stop. Full stop.
Just walk away from it for a while. It’s an overused saying but ‘can’t see the wood for the trees’ is a good one to use here.
Sometimes you just won’t get clarity about something until you pull way back and can see the big picture.
And to do that you need to be far away from the detail. Which you can’t do if you are still in it.
Here’s what happened when I stepped away from the blog for a couple of weeks and severely trimmed the amount of time I was spending on it.
Traffic is down by about 25% but I am still getting around 4000 visits a month so I am actually very pleased with this.
It isn’t the death knell of my blog, and I’ll get that traffic back when I am ready to work on growing it again.
Action – stop what you are doing and step away from it for at least a week.
The world will not end and you could end up gaining some insights into how to get motivated again.
Once you have stepped away from whatever is causing your overwhelm and self- doubt, your brain will start idly musing on your problem.
This can be when the best ideas or realisations happen.
When we try and force a solution, we are thinking in a very linear way.
When we let our brains wander over a problem without trying to think about, we get a lot more creative.
Seriously, most of my good ideas happen in the shower or when I’m walking as I’m just turning things over in my head rather than sitting at my desk trying to force the solution.
Action – go for a walk, do some meditation or whatever quietens your mind. Don’t set any deadlines for finding a solution. Just let it happen naturally.
Having a crisis of confidence happens to most people at some point in their lives.
Just because you feel like you are the only person in the world having a meltdown, you aren’t.
Talking it through with someone can do a few things:
Right in the midst of my freak out, I rang one of my friends and ranted at her for an hour. She was fab at giving me ideas or just generally listening. Once the verbal diarrhoea was over, I felt so much better!
Action – Ring a friend, chat with your partner or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Even if you are too overwhelmed to take action on whatever is confounding you, just do something, anything.
Organise your filing cabinet, pair your socks and chuck the odd ones. Anything that just gets you up and going.
Even starting another business ended up helping me. Sometimes you need to do something completely different just to realise that you wanted to go back to what you had.
Action – not saying you have to organise your sock drawer, but hey, why not!
This is the key. Somewhere in the fog of your self-doubt and overwhelm, you need to tell yourself that this is only temporary.
For some reason, each time this happens, we forget that this has happened before, and the time before that, and the time before that.
Each time it happens it feels like you’ll never get out. But you will.
Action – make a note in your diary about how you are feeling. ‘Freak out’, ‘meltdown’, ‘feel like I can’t do it’ or whatever you want to write.
I promise you will look back on this in a few weeks or months feeling completely different. It can be a great remainder to say ‘hey, I got over that thing I was so worried about, well done me!’.
Starting anything new is always a little daunting. Sometimes it’s just butterflies in the stomach, but sometimes it’s the crushing weight of a million sumo wrestlers sat on your head.
My bst advice to you is to:
Hi, I am Laura. I set up the 'I Want My Life Back Project' after burning out in a corporate job. I quit in May 2017 and set about getting my life back. I now freelance 2 days a week, run this blog, manage my rental properties and am SO MUCH HAPPIER! All the content on this blog is to help you to get your life back too :-)