Starting a business is exciting, but once the thrill has worn off, budding entrepreneurs are left with something much darker: self-limiting beliefs. These are the nagging, negative thoughts that often find us when we’re feeling our lowest, and they can be crippling to a new business owner who does not yet have years of success to back up his or her confidence.
Self-Limiting Beliefs and the Entrepreneur
As a professional business coach, here is a list of the self-limiting beliefs I hear most often from my clients:
- I’m not smart enough.
- I don’t have the training or education to be successful.
- I don’t deserve this success.
- I can’t judge/motivate/lead/evaluate people.
- I don’t know how to manage employees.
- I‘m an imposter. I don’t belong here.
- I’m destined to fail.
- I’m not a business expert.
- I’m not creative enough.
- I’m not good at math/accounting/finance.
- I don’t want to be in sales.
- I am too old/young.
- I don’t know anything about technology.
If left unchecked, these thoughts can become the prevailing narrative we tell ourselves. The more we dwell on them, the more they become true: our confidence dwindles until we fail, precisely as we told ourselves we would. When you fill your belief system with negative thoughts, they spill over into other areas of your life as well. The solution is to nip them in the bud.
How to Stop Self-Limiting Beliefs
Overcoming self-limiting beliefs is a process that won’t happen in a day. However, here are some solutions to break this cycle of negative thoughts and reframe your mindset over time.
One of the most effective ways to combat self-limiting beliefs is to counter them with positive affirmations. Every time you catch yourself thinking you aren’t good enough or deserving of success, counter that with a positive thought, such as “I am a brilliant leader” or “I am making a difference.”
Other methods are:
- Surround yourself with positive people you’d like to emulate. If you’re surrounded by negative Nancies, it will be easier for you to fall into that old mindset.
- Find a mentor to help you stay positive. This should be someone with experience in your industry who can provide reliable feedback when you doubt yourself.
- Read books about business and self-development and go to conferences in your industry. Attend speeches or watch videos of motivational speakers. Make sure you’re always learning, so you don’t grow stagnant.
- Keep a log of your successes and a list of your completed tasks. Refer to these when it feels like you’re not getting anything done.
- Set goals and track your achievements. Measuring your progress over time can be a significant positive reinforcement.
- Focus on being grateful for what you have and are accomplishing. Write in a gratitude journal each day. It sounds cheesy, but when you appreciate what you have, it’s easier to find the good everywhere else.
- Shift from the focus on yourself to how you will change the world. A friend of mine thinks about it this way. “The one thing that has been most effective for me in overcoming these thoughts is to shift my focus away from myself and onto the change, I am hoping to make in the world. If the goal is important enough, then the obstacles become less significant to me.”
I understand this because I’ve been there myself. Talking to a professional business coach can help. If self-limiting beliefs are holding you back, fill out my contact form and let’s create a plan to get you back in command of your destiny.