You’ll Never Know Until You Try
While slogging away on the treadmill at 5:30 this morning, I had Rachel Hollis in my earholes. She was answering a listener question about making a hard decision. Her advice was spot on. Just choose. Choose and commit. This will get you into motion, instead of overthinking and spinning your wheels. Once you’ve gotten rolling, you can reassess, but if you’re still in the starting blocks, you have no data to analyze whether you made the right choice, or not.
By now, I was sweating, not just because I was on an incline and about 20 minutes had passed, but because I realized that I needed to follow her advice, not just listen to it. I still had another 25 minutes to go, so I clicked on another podcast, this one called Overcoming Distractions with host, Dave Greenwood. His book, by the same name, is chock full of great ideas and strategies for folks like me that are entrepreneurs with ADHD.
His guest was an expert on the topic of self-confidence. I read the beginning of the show notes, to get an idea of whether it would be worth my time. It looked pretty good, but now I only had 23 minutes left for my workout, so I clicked on 1.5x speed. By the way, for the smartasses in the cheap seats, I do recognize the irony of my reading her bio, instead of just jumping in and listening to the damn thing, especially after I had literally just finished listening to Rachel Hollis instructing me on the dangers of overthinking making a decision.
Anyway, this woman, Alyssa Dver, really knows her shit. I mean she founded a company called The American Confidence Institute and her title is Chief Confidence Officer. How badass is that? One of the best takeaways from the episode is this: people don’t do things because they are afraid (obviously) but the interesting part is that what they are afraid of can always be traced back to one of three things — fear of failure, fear of regret or fear of rejection. While that might sound overly simplistic, it turns out to be true.
People do vary in how fearful they are and in how much confidence they have, but I love knowing that while fear is hardwired into human beings as a survival instinct, we can learn to manage it better. When we do, our confidence increases. If you see yourself as an anxious, insecure person, and think there’s nothing you can do about it, this should come as really good news. When I decided to leave the stability and security of having a job for the unchartered territory of self-employment over ten years ago, I was excited, but also afraid.
I would sometimes lay awake at night thinking “Will I be able to make it on my own?”, “Am I gonna wish I had stuck with the steady paycheck and benefits?” “Are my family and friends going to support me even if they don’t understand what I’m doing?” If you take a look at my anxiety-ridden bedtime thoughts, they line up perfectly with the confidence guru’s list of fears that hold people back. Fear of failure, fear of regret and fear of rejection. Check, check and check. I did go for it, anxiety and all. My first business was successful and for the last couple of years, I have been pivoting into my second, which I expect to be even more so. I still get anxious, I still feel afraid. The content of my thought stream is still pretty much the same- am I gonna screw this up, will I wish I hadn’t done it and are people gonna trash me online, followed by abandonment from friends and family for trying to be more than I was?
I wish I could tell you that I discovered or created the perfect cure for fear and that I no longer feel it. I’d love to be able to share my secrets for overcoming worry, self-doubt and second-guessing and that I have broken my lifetime habit of overthinking, utterly and completely. But, if I told you that, it would be a lie and I have way too lousy a memory to be a good liar, so I just don’t. Also, I do believe in karma, not as in reward and punishment but as in causes and conditions. If I lie to you, I am creating the causes and conditions for me to be lied to by others, and that makes me a bit crazy. So, as much as I would love to be your Fairy Godmother who makes you totally carefree with a single wave of my magic wand, I’m gonna give you some very direct, but still inspiring, advice.
That thing you want to do, you know the one. Whether it’s the online business you want to launch, the relationship you want to attract, the child you’d love to adopt, or the book you’re dreaming of writing, you just need to start. We usually start with a story called “I don’t know” or “I don’t know-how” which is eventually replaced by the I’m not ready” or “It’s not time yet” story. Trust me when I say that I have wasted several years getting ready. I was busy the entire time, but I had very little to show for myself but shockingly high credit card statements for someone who wasn’t making much money. What was I spending on? You know the answer. Information products and coaching all of which was designed to help me gain clarity, confidence, and courage.
I won’t say that they were worthless, because they weren’t. I am now able to speak very intelligently about business, marketing, sales funnels, social media strategies, personal branding and more. But don’t you dare ask me how much revenue I generated in the past year or how many clients I served. Because those numbers are pretty pathetic. There’s only one reason. I didn’t take action, at least not enough and not the right kind. And I surrounded myself with people who were doing exactly the same thing as me, buying courses, joining masterminds, hiring coaches. We were all lying to ourselves and to each other. And nobody was talking about the dirty little secret. We were all scared shitless and spinning our wheels, and calling it massive action.
You know what I’m going to say now. And you already know the truth, whether I point it out or not. There’s only one thing that will help you and it’s not doing more of the same. You need to get started. Right now. Today, not tomorrow. You really don’t have to know all the steps, just the first step or the next one, if you’ve already started and then stalled out. You definitely don’t need to figure out exactly how you’re gonna get there. You just need to get moving and start going somewhere so you can decide if your direction is working or not. It’s impossible to determine that when you haven’t even turned over the ignition.
A plan is helpful, but we can get so caught up in planning down to the tiniest detail and by the time we have mapped out every inch of the journey, we notice that someone else has come along and done it. And then we go into another obsessive story called “Now it’s too late.” Don’t do this to yourself. You are enough. You don’t need to be perfect. You don’t have to have all the answers. Everyone starts at square one. Expect to be scared and don’t talk yourself into thinking it’s a sign you’re making a mistake. It’s just your brain doing its job.
Remember what the Chief Confidence Officer said. Whenever we are about to do something new, we will be afraid. It doesn’t mean anything’s wrong. Your mind will fill with thoughts about failure, regret, and rejection. That’s normal too. Keep going, one foot in front of the other, one baby step at a time. Instead of others wheel spinners as companions, find and affiliate with at least one other woman who is just as scared and taking action. Make her your biz bestie. Avoid excuse-makers, blamers, and complainers, they will suffocate your dreams and fan the flame of your fears.
It’s time, your time. And time isn’t waiting for you to stop being scared. Take that first step, take a deep breath, then another. Step, breathe, step, breathe. It’s your new mantra. The way to build your confidence and start thinking I can do this is to do it. There’s no other way. Don’t waste your time buying more courses, paying more coaches, commiserating in endless Facebook groups, spending countless hours listening to podcasts featuring interviews with other women doing the thing. You do the thing. Just start. Start now. Start scared. Scared shitless even. Stock up on Depends if necessary, but start moving. You’ll truly never know what can happen, what will happen, what you’re capable of, until you try.