It happens to the best of us, and hits at the worst timing. For the creative boss, it’s often when you might be doing something out of your comfort zone, taking risks with your own money and time. Everyone at some point in their creative career would think, “Is this really what I should be doing?”. When you fail to secure a project, or completing it is an uphill battle, when a customer is unhappy with your work, the belief that you have the right skills to achieve a good outcome comes into question. It also seems the more creative you are, the more it happens!
Will my work be seen? Will people like it? What if they don’t? I’m spending so much of my time and energy into this, what if I fail? I’m burning out and I just don’t want to do it anymore!
The good news is, you can overcome self-doubt, and a little bit of it is not a bad thing, as it keeps you on the right path.
Acknowledge & Embrace Self-Doubt
It is normal to have doubts from time to time. Humans are not always the picture of harmony and balance, our life tends to veer off course sometimes, and we just need to get back on track! Self-doubt is that voice in your head that creeps in when things don’t go your way, but things don’t always go our way, that’s nature.
The key is how we react to these negative feelings. So the first thing you have to do is…
Let’s agree on this. When you have feelings of fear or self-doubt, you are often tired, burned-out or had a shitty day/week, or about to do something you are not sure of. Before you go on to wallow and let these self-doubting thoughts take you deeper into despair, get out. Now. If you don’t, you will start engaging in self-protecting behaviour, or self-handicapping.
Go for your exercise at the gym, or yoga studio, or running. Go walk the pet, and try to be in the present and relax. Turn to friends and family for support, and talk to the appropriate someone and vent out your feelings, what are friends for? Well, be sure you’re already hanging out with positive people that will be able to help you out, instead of amplifying your self-doubts and make you feel worse.
Once you return, and hopefully feeling better, you will be in a better position to think the issue through.
What’s The Worst Thing That Could Happen?
“We all care about how others view us – sometimes too much.” – Ryan Nicodemus, theminimalists
Fear of failure has stopped many from even embarking on their own businesses. You are already a creative boss, so what’s the worst thing that could happen? If you have to start again, you start again. We can’t control what others think or feel about us, but we can surely learn to control our own emotions and feelings better, and our attitudes towards the matter.
Prevention = Non Negotiable Time
To do that, we need to be in top shape physically, and mentally. Maria Forleo has a technique called the NNT = Non Negotiable Time. It’s time daily that you put aside for yourself, and I don’t mean that time you get to watch TV! Daily meditation, green juice, exercise, yoga, whatever it is that will nourish your soul mentally and physically.
In my early days as a designer, I started off with the worst of habits. As I no longer had to work in an office environment, my gym routine slipped and I kept putting it off, since my time is flexible and up to me. Working from home means I’m near a well-stocked fridge or sweets and sugary drinks, and before you know it I’ve gained weight, feel more sluggish and tired, and I don’t feel good about myself, and mentally it also led to self-doubt, whether I can make it work and be successful at this. I had to haul my own ass back into an exercise routine that works for me and get a good working habit and manage my time better.
So I have created some non negotiable time when it comes to exercise, and time off work. I’m still working on the diet, lol!
Overcome Self-Doubt: Take Action & Create!
Telling yourself that you might not be able to do something or doubting yourself will only distract you from your performance. Do not let your inner monologue drag you down, and put the energy where it needs to be: your performance. If you’re worried what you will be creating will not be loved, exposing yourself to criticism or failure, then you need to start shipping, in the words of Seth Godin, because otherwise you will never get there.
“As long as you continue to create and move forward, it’ll give you the ammunition, not to stop the self-doubt, but to stop the self-doubt from stopping you!” – Paula Lawes
It’s easier said than done, but you just have to keep on hustling. Even when you feel down or trying to overcome self-doubt, just keep doing what you have to do and trust you’ll come out fine on the other side. Just deal with it head-on, and be kind to yourself.