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December 2, 2013

7 Tools to Overcome Your Self-Doubts

With my 5th annual Best of You Coaching Club Mentorship launching soon, I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the more common struggles that women are dealing with, as they relate to mindset, physique and business.

One of the biggest challenges far and away is self-doubt: “Who am I to build this business?” or “Who am I to tell other women how to eat when I can’t even lose these last ten pounds!” and “What if I mess up? I’ll make a fool of myself!” and “No one supports me and they don’t get it. It’s easier to just not even try.”

I get it. I totally do.

In fact, when I first started competing and modeling, I thought my friends and family were going to scoff at it—“Pfft! She thinks she’s a frigging model! Please!” I was worried they were going to see me as self-centered or better than—“Who does she think she is getting up on stage in a bikini or starting a blog? Like she has something to say?!”

Of course, I never heard any of things out loud from anyone—only in my head a million times :)

I struggled with doubts the first few years at JIllFit. I wondered how I looked to people, did people (most importantly, my family!) think I was silly for trying to build this business? Or doing something so “out there” or unconventional? I felt a strong pull to fall in line with the usual course of events: college, 9-to-5 “good job,” 401k, marriage and kids. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s wonderful for those who are drawn to it—but I felt deep down inside that I wanted to touch people outside my close circle. I wanted to make a bigger impact in the world. I had a message I felt obligated to get out to the point that I felt I was not only doing a disservice to women who needed it–craved it–but more importantly, I knew I’d be selling myself short if I didn’t at least try.

And try I did. Many times.

And it wasn’t always pretty. My endeavors weren’t always easily accepted by my friends and family (the ones whose affirmation I craved the most). Not everyone “got it” or supported me. And often I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing. But for whatever reason, I always forced myself to take action. And the scarier the task, the more I knew I needed to do it, because I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t.

And over time, my doubts turned into confidence.

Here are the 7 tools I used to get there:

1)  Take action.

This is a catch-22, right? In order to move past self-doubt, you need to get some wins, but at the same time, self-doubt is the biggest obstacle to action. So what do you do? For me, I’ve always forced myself to just do it, stop waiting for the time to be right. On some level I trusted myself enough to figure it out along the way. And that self-trust or self-confidence grew the more I just jumped. The fastest way to grow your confidence is to accumulate some small wins that eventually turn into bigger successes. Allow yourself THE CHANCE to have the experience of accomplishment. Experience the the thrill of it. Otherwise, you’ll aways feel paralyzed by doubt and assume that your worst fears will be realized.

Which brings me to #2 …

2) Get brutally honest about your fears.

Name them. Ask, what outcomes am I most afraid of? Take your mind to the worst-case scenario. This is an exercise I use with my coaching gals to help spur action. At first it’s scary, but then it’s empowering when you realize that yeah, that worst case scenario? I can handle it. Would it be fun? No, of course not. But could you handle it and adjust? Absolutely. Name your fears and ask yourself, “Could I handle worst-case scenario? Would I make it through?” I think you’ll find that in every instance, the answer is yes.

One of my favorite tools is Practical Pessimism.

3) Mess up more.

Is this counterintuitive? Yes. Because Jill, why would I want to mess up? I’ll tell you why–because the more blunders you commit, the more OPPORTUNITIES you have to build your resiliency. To get back up and try again. Of course, being resilient is a choice. Many of us will mess up once and then use it to justify our feelings all along: “See? I do suck!” and we’ll throw in the towel. But what if we didn’t? What if instead we used our mess ups and struggles as opportunities to grow and get better? That’s exactly what happens. The more we try, the more mistakes we will certainly make, but ultimately the more wins we’ll accumulate.

“If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.” –Thomas J. Watson

4) Give up need for affirmation & don’t be afraid to disappoint others.

This was a really hard one for me for a lot of years, and something I still struggle with–the need for affirmation and the desire to not let people down. I grew up an overachiever, a perfectionist. And I was always affirmed for my good grades or my athletic talent.

The more positive feedback we get (especially as a child), the more we crave it. That’s normal human stuff. And it’s all well and good … until … well, we become an adult and we are still running around trying to garner affirmation and doing what we think we need to in order to earn love or praise. Running around trying to meet everyone’s expectations for you and trying to control their perception of what you’re doing is a prison. It keeps you small. It keeps you scared. And it ultimately keeps you from doing what you truly desire–what you want to do FOR YOU.

So let them judge. Let them be upset. Let them disapprove. Let them be confused or disappointed. Because those reactions have nothing to do with you. People will do what they do and say what they say. Let them. Do you. Be you. There’s no one better, and there’s certainly no alternative if you want to get to the next level.

5) Give yourself a mental pep talk. Then own that shit.

Oftentimes, we have a running tally in our mind of the many reasons why we should not be the one to do X or Y. We say, “Why me? I’m no one.” or “So-and-so is already doing that, and they’re so much smarter/leaner/better than me. Why bother?”

Sound familiar? We do this constantly. So how about turning that statement around. How about saying instead, “Why NOT me?” or “Why can’t I contribute too?” There’s plenty of money, success and happiness to go around and you already have a unique offering that no one else can match: YOU. Like my girl Liz DiAlto says, “I don’t worry about people stealing my stuff because good luck trying to be me.” <—THIS is the attitude you need to adopt to overcome self-doubt. You have to, on some level, just say, “You know what, “I’m the shit. I have something to offer and people will get better as a result of working with me.” As a coach, you only need to be one step ahead of the people you’re coaching. So own it. Own your expertise, own your experiences. Trust in YOU. This is a mindset issue, hence the mental pep talk :)

In the fitness industry, there’s a lot of talk about who should (or shouldn’t) do what or who knows the science well enough or who’s lean enough to be dispensing advice. Honestly, screw that. Sorry. But, who has “the right” to do something? Simple. The person who is passionate and who is actually DOING IT. That’s all. So, answer me this: why NOT you?

6) Surround yourself with people who “get it” and don’t stress about the ones who don’t.

I love this from Tim Ferris: “It doesn’t matter how many people don’t get it. What matters is how many people do.” How true is that??

The usual response of people when you do something, anything that’s a little out of the norm or risky is, “Well, that won’t work.” Also known as, haters (ironically, I hate that word :)). The bottom line with haters is to let them be. They don’t contribute, they only criticize. Let them stay skeptical and small. And instead, seek out people who are on your level. Who see the potential like you do. Who see possibilities. Who support you following your dreams. Who are open-minded. Who don’t scoff at big or novel ideas. Surround yourself with people who support you. It’s not to say leave everyone else behind (especially if it’s family and you want to maintain a relationship with them), but just learn to not go to them for the big stuff. Confide in those who are on the same page, and who help pull you up, rather than drag you down.

7) Get a coach who has been there, done that.

In 2011, when I was at the end of my rope with my business and personal life, I knew where I wanted to get to, but didn’t know the first step to take. In order to get myself and my business to the next level, I sought out a coach and hired her. I looked for someone who I admired and looked up to. Someone who was doing what I wanted to do, but doing it a thousand times better. Someone who had the life I wanted, but who had also been in my shoes previously. And honestly, hiring a coach made all the difference. Not only did I get the support and accountability I craved, but I got a consistent message about my mindset. My coach helped me hone my mindset to one of success, rather than fear or lack. And she pushed me “take massive action”–her words. And I did. And I was scared as hell, but it was a game-changer, and it happened within a year.

I’ll never forget on our second coaching call, I was hung up on some small detail and she just said, “Jill, you need to move past this, it’s a tiny thing compared to where you want and need to get. You’re in the big leagues now, it’s time to start acting like a real business.” HOLY shiiiiiiid. Tough love, but boy did I need it! I’ll always be so grateful to my first coach (I’ve had many since and I’ll never be without one because I believe in it so much) for pushing me when I was reluctant and when I was stuck. It’s an enormous gift and one I urge you to seek out if you haven’t.

Learn, Grow,
Teach, Practice

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