Welcome back! If you’re on the e-mail list, then you may recall the latest newsletter talking about fear and how it can hold you back. I’ve alluded to the extremely busy summer I’ve had here and there on the site, but only briefly shared how the hard work has paid off in a recent Instagram caption. Long story short, I decided back in late April that I’d try and apply to graduate school. It was an impulse decision (I actually had a totally different goal at the beginning of the year), but it wasn’t totally foreign. After all, the idea of going back to school for my master’s degree has popped up as a fleeting thought every few years since finishing my undergrad back in 2010.
This time, the idea actually excited me and I just wanted to know one way or the other: would I get accepted?
A few days after deciding to go for it, I ordered a stack of GMAT study books and spent the entire summer, 3hrs a day 5-6x per week, studying for the entrance exam. In August, I took the GMAT and applied to two MBA programs. Over the past two weeks, I received acceptance letters to both schools! In a little over 5 months, I managed to set a goal and pivot to the next chapter of my life. Now, I’m enjoying these last few months before I start graduate school (still feels surreal to say it) in January!
I say all that to say, it sounds like a pretty smooth process in my recap, but it was hard! Mostly, it was hard because of my own self-doubt. When I say I had doubts every step of the way, I mean it. I could think of a reason to change my mind, a reason why the timing wasn’t right, a reason to reschedule the GMAT, a reason why schools would reject me, the list goes on! Now that I can reflect on those past few months, I’m realizing that self-doubt nearly stopped me from trying to become a better version of myself! If I let the fear and self-doubt outweigh the idea of possibility, I would have quit before even realizing that I had the potential to go to graduate school.
Don’t let fear and self-doubt outweigh the idea of possibility.
That’s why I’m writing this post today. Fear and self-doubt are impossible to completely get rid of, but there are a few things you can do to help overcome those feelings of inadequacy when you feel them bubbling up.
How to Stop Getting in the Way of Your Goals
Confide in Your Loved Ones
This was monumental in my graduate school goal. I am the type of person who doesn’t like to do something if I’m not good at it. It could be a residual effect of always being placed in the talented and gifted or advanced placement classes throughout my schooling and thus having academic things naturally come easy to me, but that’s another talk for another day. The bottom line is, I will subconsciously talk myself out of doing something if I don’t think I’ll succeed. If this also sounds like you, confiding in your loved ones will be a gamechanger. Having the support of my close friends and family members throughout the graduate school process really talked me off the ledge any time I would unknowingly self-sabotage my goal.
A true support system tells it like it is, and you have to believe the positive side just as much as you believe the constructive side.
Oftentimes, sharing your goals with your support system can be the push you need to succeed! I’m a fully grown adult, but if it weren’t for my mom telling me over the phone that I should apply to the school I preferred to go to, I wouldn’t have done it! It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true! I originally applied to one of two schools because, although I wanted to go to the second one more, I didn’t think that school would accept me. Both my undergrad GPA and my GMAT scores were good, so statistically speaking, I had zero basis for that claim. Yet, it took my mom’s words of encouragement to get me to apply. (And thank goodness she talked me into it or I wouldn’t be going there next semester!)
It’s hard to acknowledge at the moment, but your support system really does believe in you. They aren’t just saying you’re great because that’s what they’re supposed to say. A true support system tells it like it is, and you have to believe the positive side just as much as you believe the constructive side. As long as you don’t have a circle filled with “yes” men, sharing a goal of yours will help provide clarity.
Stop the Comparison
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. This tip is easier said than done, especially in the digital age of social media where every app is inherently designed in a way that forces you to compare yourself to others on a daily basis. That being said, it’s still important to remember that comparison is the thief of joy. Everyone is on their own path, and everyone has different priorities at different stages in life.
We aren’t in the Myspace days anymore, so people aren’t as forthcoming with the daily struggles in their lives…and why would they be? Social media, for most people, is an escape! It’s a place to get away from the news of the day and share pretty pictures or talk about the business you’re building or network with other people…or simply just to laugh! It’s a tool that is as productive or as destructive as you make it, so handle it with care. It sounds silly, but checking social media on a day when you aren’t feeling your best is bound to result in feelings of negativity.
Comparison isn’t isolated to social media, though. You can unknowingly compare yourself to others in your daily life. Think about when you go into a job interview and see the other candidates in the lobby. Rather than focus on yourself and what you can control, you may find yourself sizing the other candidates up and thinking they have a better shot at the job because of their age, gender, or what they’re wearing. What benefit does that serve? Comparing yourself to others will only result in negative self-talk and feelings of inadequacy.
This feeling can even come up if who you’re comparing yourself with doesn’t get the prize. Just because a person you deem superior doesn’t get a particular opportunity, that doesn’t mean you don’t stand a chance. Stop comparing yourself to others and focus on what you bring to the table. What’s meant for you will come, and what’s not meant for you could be meant for somebody else.
Reflect, Manifest, and Affirm
This tip is something that I tend to do without even realizing it. Your thoughts become things, so you can curb the self-doubt by thinking positively about yourself and your goals. You know how they say if you want something, ask? Well, I would extend that even further by saying if you want something, speak! Even if you’re simply speaking or thinking to yourself, being honest about your goals and listing why you believe they will be achieved can boost your confidence. After all, the saying “fake it ’til you make it” didn’t become a popular phrase for no reason!
It’s frustratingly easy to fall down a rabbit hole of why you can’t do something, but flip it and share why you can do something. Reflect back on the positive things that have happened in your life over the past month, quarter, or year. Did you ever think those things would happen before they actually did? Things often seem impossible until you do them.
Back in 2012, I never thought I’d be able to leave the retail world because so many office jobs required years of experience fresh out of college…make it make sense! I was resigned to the fact that I would remain in retail management for at least a few more years, so imagine my disappointment when I, an assistant manager who was next in line, got passed up for a store manager position that I so badly wanted at the time. (Remember how I said some things just aren’t meant for you?)
In hindsight, I know that wasn’t meant for me because I deserved better. Had I gotten the promotion, I would have stayed in a job that wasn’t a good fit for longer than necessary. Instead, the disappointment and disrespect I endured was the exact motivation I needed to reignite the fire in me: I was ready to leave retail…for good.
Still, it seemed impossible until it wasn’t. I had an extremely long interview process and, as we crossed into the new year, I started writing down small bits of positivity that would happen each day as a way to find the good in even the worst of days. Each step of the way, I wrote down the little moments of positivity that happened: the first call back, the phone interview, the in-person interview, etc. When I finally got the job offer, I couldn’t believe it! But, I went back and reflected on the process by reading those little slips of positivity leading up to the job offer and reminded myself that it wasn’t impossible…it just took time.
Change, especially big life changes, can be scary. It’s easy to talk yourself out of doing something and claiming you aren’t ready. But, the truth is, you’re never fully ready. Growth doesn’t happen in your comfort zone, so it’s natural for fear to appear when you’re making big decisions. While you can’t completely eliminate fear, you can use the 3 tips I shared in this post to help quiet the noise:
- Share your goals with your support system!
- Stop comparing yourself and your journey to others.
- Speak positively to and about yourself.
How do you handle feelings of self-doubt?
P.S. Thank you to @kenneylens for shooting these photos! The shoot was a lot of fun and I love how the photos came out! If you want to see more from the stylish ladies featured in today’s post, check out their Instagram accounts: @luxeandlabeless and @tally.dilbert!
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