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Don't Let Fear and Self-Doubt Stop your Progress
07 February 2014 | By Catherine Wheatcroft

This article takes a look at how self-doubt and fear can stop us from progressing with our businesses, make us make poor decisions and ultimately stop us from being creative. We can all relate to this in some way or point in our business, when we have not followed through with something because of the…what if?

My own classic example of this relates to quite a major turning point in my personal life, when I came very close to letting fear and self-doubt stop me from finding freedom, exhilaration and achievement.

For anyone that does not know already, I am a keen road cyclist and by keen, I mean 80 – 100 miles a week of pedalling.  Some may find other words to use in replace of keen…but we all have our cross to bear! Some months ago my husband mentioned that there was the opportunity for us to book onto a training session at the Manchester velodrome track. Now for anyone that has not seen the track or been there…this is a ‘wall’ of track rising steeply up an embankment all the way around. When you look at it in the flesh, your first thoughts are that you cannot possibly stand on it with sliding down, never mind keep a bike going round on it!

Now I have been to the velodrome and seen this scary steep slope up close. So when my husband mentioned the potential training session, my first reaction was no way. My brain was easily convinced that it was not for me as thoughts of the steep slope, sliding down it, up to 50 other riders around me, whether I would be fast enough, the absence of brakes and gears on a track bike, being clipped into it and just staying upright, filled my mind. The answer was no thanks, but you can do it if you like!

We settled at that until I met the coach one day that was due to take the training session and he did a great job of persuading me against my better judgement to give it a go. Now because I am a pretty determined character I went along with it and there was no question of me bottling out at the last minute.

So I went and I was so scared and desperate to find a way out of it, that I could barely walk up to the rail with my bike, let alone get on it and move away from the comfort of the barrier at the bottom of the slope. And yes, I was sweating before I had even moved a pedal!

Fast forward to today…cycling round that track was the single most exhilarating and liberating thing I have ever done. I can honestly say that it is the only activity I have taken part in where every other thought in my head disappears…no worries, no thinking about work issues, no mulling over clients…nothing. Total freedom from all that and at the end of it, a HUGE sense of satisfaction and achievement…it really is the best change of mind I have ever had…but so nearly did not happen because of irrational doubts.

So enough about my cycling exploits and what has this little lesson of mine got to do with your business and the progress you are making with it?
Fear based decision-making
This is when you let your fears or worries dictate your actions or lack of action.
For example:

  • I would love to write a book but what if people don’t buy it? Maybe I should go on a course before I start writing?
  • It would be great to hold some workshops on my training services, but what if I don’t attract the right people there? Maybe I should develop my database more first?
  • I am sure that doing some talks would increase my customers, but what if people find it boring? May be I should do some more networking first?

The result of this is that you end up not doing the things that are important for your business. As I mentioned earlier, it is a mistake I nearly made but it would have been a huge loss that I now have in my life.

So how can we all overcome fear and self-doubt to make the important changes and progression in our business?

1. Pick goals outside of your comfort zone
If I had passed by the opportunity of cycling the velodrome I would have still carried on cycling as usual. Cycling as usual is within my comfort zone, riding the velodrome is certainly not! I would have lost nothing and gained nothing. If you never feel uncomfortable then you’re never trying anything new, never experimenting and not being creative with ideas for your business growth.

2. Just get started
You may be avoiding getting started on something because it is not quite right; you have not finished your research or don’t feel you are quite good enough yet. This is just your fear getting in the way and making your feel less than prepared. Ignore them and ask yourself how long will you keep putting off what you are capable of today…just for the sake of perfection? What happens if it is never perfect, will you keep putting off starting and never get started or is it better to start somewhere and improve along the journey?

3. Nobody wants you to fail
Whether you succeed or fail, nobody actually cares. This is a positive as the world is big and you should chase your dreams with little care for what people think. Just give it a go!

4. Failure is not taking the action
Most of us allow feelings of uncertainty, fear or vulnerability dictate our actions. But making the decision to act in spite of these feelings is what will separate you from everyone else. You do not need to be the best at what you do, just the person that actually decides to do something.

5. Failure is not a given
It is all too easy to not do something because you think it will be a failure. No one will book your course, buy your phone app, read your book, and comment on your article. But remember that failure is not certain and maybe you are destined to succeed!

You will enjoy success by doing the things and taking the small steps that other people make excuses to avoid. Taking the decision to overcome my fears and give the velodrome a go is something I am thankful I did every day…you can do the same for your business too.

Do you need help getting started with an idea for your business or need some direction and motivation to get started? Email me at cmw@wheatcroft.info or call me for a helpful starting point chat on 07895 389919.


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