I remember the first time a colleague said those words to me, early in my career. My colleague meant them in the best way possible– as a compliment and a vote of confidence in my abilities. While I appreciated their support, I was feeling anything but confident in that moment. I had just achieved a major sales goal, but rather than letting that achievement power me forward to greater success, I worried I couldn’t repeat my performance. Worse, I feared everyone would assume I’d be successful. In their eyes, I was someone who just “got it done.” If I failed, I’d let everyone down, including myself. I was panicked.
I’ve recently been reflecting on this experience and how easy it can be for our accomplishments to paralyze us. This past year at Lucas Group was my best ever. Now that our new fiscal year has begun, all our sales stats are back to zero. Part of me still hears that doubting voice, worried I can’t repeat my past success and that I’ll let everyone down.
Here’s how I’m conquering those feelings of self-doubt and keeping the focus on a new, energizing start:
Acknowledge your fears. It’s tempting just to ignore our fears and push them to the side. But I find that the more I try to ignore a fear, the more it grows and starts to undermine my performance. Conquering self-doubt begins with acknowledging it head-on. It may even help for you to vocalize these fears to a trusted partner. Naming your fear and saying it aloud starts to take away its hold over you.
Shift your mindset towards gratitude. Have you ever worried someone is thinking: “Okay, you did great last year, but what have you done for me lately?” Or maybe, “Wow, you’re off to a really slow start after last year– what’s happened?” The truth is nine times out of 10, everyone is so focused on their own work they aren’t even thinking about yours!Rather than worrying about what others might be thinking, I try to shift my mindset towards gratitude. I ask, “What can I be grateful for in this moment?” It could be something big, like the opportunity to help a candidate take an exciting professional leap forward. It could be something smaller, like the chance to have coffee in person with a mentor. Shifting this takes our focus from inward negativity to outward positivity.
Tap into your motivation magic. Fear can lead to decision-making paralysis and procrastination. I know I’ve hit my motivation hump when I start feverishly checking off smaller tasks on my to-do list. I’m “busy” without actually being productive on the important things that matters most! Reading about and listening to thought leaders are my “motivation love language.” Hearing others share how they overcame challenges, like self-doubt, brings me back to my work with a renewed sense of purpose and excitement.
Take the first step. The antidote to fear is action. Feel like there’s a lot swirling in your head? Write it all down. Feel overwhelmed by your list? Do one item. Not sure where to start? Make a 30-day plan, and then break this plan down into weekly goals and daily goals. Still not sure where to begin? Focus on how you want to feel. Maybe you want to feel that same sense of pride you felt when you received your promotion or landed a major client. Or, maybe it’s a feeling you want to avoid– that feeling of disappointment when you missed a sales goal or delivered a project late. Tapping into your emotions can be a powerful motivator for taking the first step forward.
Don’t start fresh. Sounds crazy? Hear me out. At Lucas Group, our fiscal year starts over on October 1. Just because the calendar changed, however, doesn’t mean you need to. After all, the first week of October is just a continuation of the last week in September. If the idea of starting from zero is overwhelming, think of your work as a seamless extension of what you’ve already been doing. Then, elevate that. Can you make one more call? Spend a little extra time really listening to a client or colleague? Sign up for professional training? To borrow the words of business leader Kevin Roberts, make “happy choices.”When we’re in fear mode, we’re reacting to perceived threats rather than proactively making happy choices. If thinking about your work as a continuation of last year rather than a fresh start helps you make happy choices, then run with this mindset.
As we look towards the end of the calendar year – and perhaps your company’s fiscal year – where can you shift your mindset from fear towards gratitude, take action and make more “happy choices?”