You could be the most prepared business owner in the world, and there will still be times when you feel inadequate, perhaps downright frightened. Whether it's coming face to face with a dissatisfied customer or on a cold call, your belief in yourself begins to falter and you're fearful that ultimately you won't be able to handle it.
There are ways to overcome those doubts and fears. There are ways to alleviate the panic and move forward confidently. Below are a few tricks that successful entrepreneurs use to cope with those more challenging moments—call them mental hacks for conquering self-doubt.
1. Take a Minute to Write Down Your Accomplishments
If a fearful situation does happen to be looming, you may want to stop for a minute and write down all that you've achieved. Write also about your confidence in your capabilities. When we write things down, we provide a more visual outlet for our feelings. Thus, by elaborating on your accomplishments in written form, you are giving yourself a more physical reminder of who you are and how you got to where you did. Some people journal every day on positive thoughts; this can be extremely helpful.
2. Envision The Worst
Try and conjure the most horrific scenario that you can; for instance, do people walk out of your speech, or maybe you forget your notes and thus remain standing there with nothing to say. By imagining the worst, you can then come up with a plan to address these disasters. Why do this? Because now you know that even if everything falls flat, you do have a backup plan ready to go. Your fear has now been transformed into something positive, something that you can use to your advantage.
3. Pay Attention to Just One Thing
Let's say you're giving a speech. You start to panic at the thought of having to deliver your presentation in front of hundreds. Find one face, one single person and zero in on them intermittently throughout the speech. Look at the details of their outfit even. By starting this way, you maintain focus and then gradually the panic will begin to subside.
4. See Your Success
One way to help overcome your fear to visualize yourself overcoming that doubt and succeeding. You have to face down those fears, as they say. So whatever it is, whether public speaking or meeting with new clients, vow to do this more and more often and see yourself succeeding in the end.
5. Don't Overthink Things
Sometimes you just have to clear everything from your mind and go for it. You can look at a situation in twenty different ways. You can analyze it to death, ultimately though you're going got have to jump off that cliff and just do it. If you have a major presentation—the thought of which is making you highly anxious—perhaps right beforehand you do something else, have coffee with a friend, read a book, clear your mind of the panic that is starting to creep in and don't continuously dwell on the moment you're dreading.
6. Breathe Deep
Breathing exercises especially right before a critical moment can make a huge difference. There are apps now such as Calm for example that allow you to work on breathing while relaxing—even if for a brief two or three minutes. Breathing helps to center you, it helps you to work on focus and most importantly, it can indeed help to calm those jittery nerves so that you can move forward with greater confidence.
7. Remember Your Successes
Maybe you are facing a tough situation and the doubt is forcing you off your game. You need to take a step back and recall a time when you were successful when you set out to pursue a challenge and overcame that challenge with flying colors. It doesn't even have to be business-related. Perhaps as a kid, you had what seemed a mountain to climb, and despite your diminutive size about this mighty mountain, you succeeded. Remembering moments such as this should allow you to start to believe more in your strengths and potential. The thing about self-doubt is that it is largely in your head—so use the tools that are already there, such as memory, to conquer it.
8. Rely on a Support Network
Many people let fear get the better of them because they believe that they truly are alone in their fear. This is not the case—not at all. Find those people who are there to support you. Reach out to those who've ‘been there done that.' Talking to people who have gone through a similar situation can be an immense amount of help. What happens when you start talking to those who understand what you may be enduring, is that those fears start to normalize. And in doing so, fear begins to turn into something useful, something empowering even.
9. Address Your Panic Head On
Panic if left unattended can certainly snowball on you. It just grows larger and larger until it becomes all-consuming and your focus is completely gone. This is why when you first start to feel the panic set in, you need to address it. You cannot afford to let the panic overcome you. Tackling the problem when it's small is far easier than dealing with a mountain of panic all at once.
10. Try to Use Positive Self-Talk
It may sound a little strange to some, but engaging in an internal conversation can be quite helpful. You may even be able to talk yourself out of your fear. Think about successful and triumphant moments and pump yourself up with those. You want to try and form a blockade so that the panic and doubt don't have room to infiltrate. With positive self-talk, you are filling your mind with thoughts and dialogue that are productive and encouraging.