Kick Doubt to the Curb

Doubt. It’s a dream killer, an insidious little thing that can prevent us from reaching our goals — or even going for them in the first place.

Of course, doubt does have some benefits. It can make you stop and think before you undertake something, and consider additional options. Doing that may actually help you get to where you want to be, so you probably don’t want to get rid of all doubt. Instead, it’s time to stop doubt from paralyzing you.

Kick doubt to the curb

Here’s a little secret about that: anyone can do it, because doubt lives in your head (and sometimes in the mouths of well-meaning naysayers). Overcoming doubt so that you can act means doing two things: making sure you’ve taken care of any red flags that your doubts have thrown up, and then knowing that after a certain point, doubt doesn’t matter — so that you’re confident enough to go for your dreams despite it.

Part of that may be how you’re used to doing things. Let me tell you a couple of stories.

Sledgehammer me

One of my grandpas was a builder, and I spent a lot of time with him at an early age. On top of that, my parents were both very into home improvement, and they were always demoing and then building things too. Seeing people hammering, sawing, and building something out of bits of nothing was perfectly normal to me.So when I got my own house, naturally I assumed that I could do the same.

Painting, tiling, installing blinds and ceiling fans, fixing leaks — ok. Even though I’d never actually done any of that before. I figured I could always get help if things didn’t go as planned, but I was able to do that stuff. And later, when it came to fixing a huge hole in our wall, I took a sledgehammer to it without a second thought, figuring that I’d have to make the hole square enough to repair more easily with some drywall.

Each time I accomplished something, I became more confident and willing to try still more things. In other words, nothing kills doubt like success — and a backup plan.

Anxiety me

Then there was the me that came in to work each morning, literally too scared to say hi to my coworkers. When I did work up the courage to do so, half the time they couldn’t even hear me and so didn’t respond — and I took that as “proof” that they didn’t like me.

I couldn’t understand why everyone else could chat and joke around with each other, but not me. And God forbid I had to ask someone a question. I’d hang out tentatively near their desk or in a doorway, hoping that they would notice me. I felt like I was bothering them, like they didn’t like me, like I was stupid because I couldn’t even ask a simple question easily. I spent my time berating myself for things that I no longer give a second thought. I let doubt take over.

But I learned to talk to myself differently. I literally told myself to stop when I caught myself having those unproductive thoughts. And I repeated “So what, who cares!” in response to the doubts that crept up more times than I could count. It worked.

Where doubts belong

A little bit of doubt when you’re trying something new is normal, but once you’ve spent some time addressing it, go ahead and kick it to the curb. Don’t let it paralyze you.

Remember that you can be successful — whether that’s at using the debt snowball method, getting some passive income ideas going, or opening up a Roth IRA. Kick doubt to the curb, and move forward.

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8 comments

  • Anything less than a positive attitude will sink faster than anything. If you think you can achieve you will. If you have doubts, it will happen.

    • So true. It’s kind of like that Henry Ford quote: “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.”

  • This is where really amazing friends can come in handy. When your having moments of self doubt, give someone a call who can be your biggest cheerleader.

  • I have always been “smaller”. Since I was 8 years old I was always told that I was too small to play on the soccer team. They doubted me and it made me doubt myself, but my mom made me keep playing. 7 years later I was playing on the varsity team of my high-school as a sophomore, the only one on the team! Never doubt yourself, I have not since then!

    • Good for you (and your mom) for not listening! That reminds me of one of the football players from Nebraska who was just in the Super Bowl. He was a high school football star in a smaller town, but then when he went to college they told him he was too small. So he went somewhere else, and look where he ended up!

  • Kim

    I also think we give up too soon. Not only do we doubt but we do not endure. We must endure to the end of the fight with debt and then keep it down. Enduring is the hardest part but it does get easier with practice.