Dealing with self-doubt

I bit my lip. “Maybe we should move back to Perth and buy a house,” I suggested to Dave.

We’d been travelling for 18 months and had made our first stop home. Seeing all our friends around us settled into their recently-purchased houses, many married and with babies, we were wondering whether we were doing the right thing.

We love to travel and we are the happiest when we’re on the road, but seeing everyone take a more traditional (and some could say stable) life path, we had begun questioning our own.

We were loving working for ourselves, but the income was up and down and never as reliable as it would be if we held down a full-time salary job.

I was feeling full of self-doubt. We were happy, but were we on the right path? Was our business doing its best? How come our blog readership wasn’t increasing?

I needed to take a step back, breathe a little, and regain my confidence.

Stricken with self-doubt via Luc De Leeuw Flickr Double-Barrelled Travel

Via Luc De Leeuw Flickr

Self-doubt is related to fear

The first thing I needed to realise with self-doubt is that it’s connected to fear. We doubt ourselves because we are fearful of what the future might bring.

For me, I was fearful whether we’d make enough money from our business, and whether our business would be a success. I was fearful that we wouldn’t make enough money to save, and if we didn’t buy a house now then we’d never get on the property ladder.

Ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen?

I find that asking yourself what’s the worst that can happen can often help you to overcome your fear.

So I said to myself, “If Dave and I don’t buy a house now, how much money would we really lose?”

And I figured that buying a house a few years down the track wouldn’t make too much of a difference.

Then I asked, “If we went travelling for another year, could we afford it?” I looked at our current earnings and realised that not only would we be able to travel the world, but we’d be able to save more money than if we stayed in Perth.

Once I’d answered these questions – and realised that the worst that could happen wasn’t so bad after all – I felt more confident in what we were doing.

Freud quote via BK Flickr Double-Barrelled Travel

Via BK Flickr

Stop comparing yourself to others

When I was younger, I once complained to my mum, “I wish we had as much money as they do.”

I went to a private girls’ school, and the only way my parents could afford to send me there was because I was an only child and therefore they only had to pay for one person. But many of my friends came from wealthier families and I envied them.

My mum, who is one of the wisest people I know, replied, “To many, you are already extremely wealthy. It’s all relative. Stop thinking about what you don’t have and focus on the things you do have. Be grateful for those things.”

Over the past few months I’ve been watching fellow travel bloggers becoming more and more successful. I feel happy for them, but I can’t help but compare myself to them.

“Why are they more successful than us?” I ask myself, time and time again.

This is a pointless exercise and won’t help me to achieve anything. Like my mum said, there are probably other bloggers looking at our blog and saying the same thing – it’s all relative.

So stop comparing yourself to others and focus on what you’re doing and not what other people are achieving.

Make productive moves and forget the self-pity

Often you can get down and focus on the negatives. “Why is it so hard for us to find new clients?!” I asked myself a month ago.

There’s no point asking yourself this unless you decide to do something about it. So I got a pen and paper and made a list of who I could contact from the people I knew, to try and find new clients.

Two weeks later, I’d won two new clients through old contacts I’d emailed. This productivity gave me a confidence boost and helped me to get back on track.

So often it’s easier to just sit in a corner and moan, “Why me?” but if you look at successful people like Richard Branson – who’s had many fails – he’s never been deterred but simply picked himself up and got on with it.

Vincent Van Gogh quote via BK Flickr Double-Barrelled Travel

Via BK Flickr

Take a break and get creative

One of my favourite things to do is cook. I find it to be a wonderful stress reliever and my creative time spent in the kitchen allows me to think.

It’s important to take time away from your work and relax, because it reinvigorates you and allows you to think more openly and creatively.

Sometimes, when you’re overworked, you can fall into the habit of making the same mistakes over and over again. It’s easier to get tunnel vision and not realise why what you’re doing isn’t working.

If you take the time to step back and relax, your mind will open and give you the space you need to look at what you’re doing objectively again.

Have you ever written something, thought it was perfect, but then come back to it the next day and noticed a whole host of mistakes? It’s like that.

The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt Double-Barrelled TravelConnect with people who motivate you

One of the reasons why Dave and I have come to work at Hubud is because we wanted to be around like-minded people who really understand what we’re doing.

We love our friends dearly but many of them don’t understand our nomadic life. Some of them even told us to ‘enjoy our holiday’ when we saw them in Perth for the last time.

Few of them realise that we actually work every day (yes, even weekends!) to pay for our globetrotting.

We wanted to be around people who understand the nomadic way of living – something that is still relatively new – and get what we’re doing.

Dave and I were also sick of working side-by-side each day without having anyone else to bounce ideas off. As much as we love each other, we’d love to spend time working with other people too.

So we decided to make the conscious decision to move to Bali and work from Hubud, surrounding ourselves with people who motivate us. It’s only been a week but we’re enjoying it so far.

The enemy of art is the absence of limitations Double-Barrelled TravelRemember that there’ll never be a ‘right time’

One of the best ways to conquer self-doubt is to get stuff done. There will never be a ‘right time’ to write that e-book. You will never ‘know enough’ to start that blog.

The best way to learn is to do. You’ll learn from your mistakes and the next time you try you’ll end up with an even better result.

Many people make excuses for themselves over and over again. They believe that they don’t have enough time to do what they truly want to do. But the truth is that there’s never a better time than now.

You have the same number of hours in the day as Richard Branson (can you tell I’m a Richard Branson fan?) and yet he’s managed to start an airline, a record company, a gym business… the list goes on. Plus, he has dyslexia! So what’s your excuse?

Go out and achieve something. Even if it’s something small. The confidence boost that this will give you will help you deter your gnawing self-doubt.

Learn to trust yourself

Of course, once we learn how to trust ourselves completely, then all our self-doubt will disappear. Unfortunately this won’t ever happen to anyone, but we can try.

When we trust the decisions we make and don’t keep second-guessing ourselves we can feel more confident in the decisions we do make.

When you make a decision, agree with yourself that this is your final course of action and what will be will be. Don’t keep running through your mind whether you’ve made the right decision – accept that it was the right decision at the time.

If you end up making the wrong decision, rather than feeling down about it, look at it as a learning curve and takeaway what you’ve learnt and apply it to the next decision you make.

Dodinsky quote via BK Flickr Double-Barrelled Travel

Via BK Flickr

Kicking self-doubt in the butt

Dave and I didn’t end up buying that house, nor do we have a baby on the way. We might do those things one day, but we’ve decided that that’s not where we are in our lives at the moment.

We’ve also decided that the freedom of working for ourselves is not something we’re quite willing to give up just yet, even if it does bring with it its own uncertainty.

Once we’d decided these things, we took our own advice and stopped second guessing what we’re doing. Because after all, we’re very happy right now. And that’s the most important thing, right?

What are your tips for dealing with self-doubt?

2 thoughts on “Dealing with self-doubt

  • Late comment I know, I was just wondering if seeking out those clients was just an exercise in boosting your confidence? Or did you need to do so for financial reasons? The reason I ask if that all indications were that Red Platypus was doing fabulously. I am currently wondering about whether a nomadic life would be sustainable for me so would be interested in your answer. Loving the blog, keep up the great work!

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