Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry I want to help you determine if a lack of self-confidence is holding you back from pursuing the career or business dream you'd really like to see happen. Let's start here - what are the top three things that are holding you back from making your biggest and wildest career dreams a reality? Think about it for a few minutes. I'm willing to bet that your top three includes the fear that it won't work out. But if you've been around for a couple of decades, you probably already noticed that a lot of things don't work out the way we intended and you're still here, alive and breathing and (hopefully) well. Yet, it's definitely the #1 reason people tell me they're scared about starting their own business or making a huge career change like I did. If there are other good, valid, rational reasons why your business idea or career change COULD work out, then I think you're dealing with the pesky voice of fear. Fear is meant to protect us - from the shady character in the dimly lit parking lot, from jumping off a 50-foot building, from trying to lift 100 lbs at the gym when in reality we probably can't even lift 50 lbs without hurting a major muscle group. But all too often a lack of self-confidence masquerades itself as the voice of fear. Why? Because it's a sure fire way to get our attention! It stops us in our tracks and makes us doubt (or at least reconsider) whether we're taking the right path or making the right move. When that happens, most of us feel paralyzed and unable to move forward because we don't have enough confidence in our dreams, ideas, and plans. We don't trust that we could make it happen. We don't believe that we're good enough or worthy enough to live out our big dreams. In short, we don't have enough confidence in ourselves. Making a big, giant leap towards your dreams requires confidence, gumption (I love that word!), and a whole lot of courage. It's hard to have those things when we lack basic self-confidence.
I should be the poster child for self-confidence -- it would look something like a "before and after" weight loss ad except my face would go from looking miserable and totally down on myself to radiating joy and positivity, and the headline would read, "Woman's self-confidence sky rockets from 'bottom of the barrel' to 'off the charts' in less than 3 years." I had zero self-confidence for a long time and I didn't really get into healthy, normal levels of self-confidence until I was about 36 years old. I think all of us (especially females) struggle with self-confidence at least a little bit and we all mask it in different ways. I think my difficulty with self-confidence primarily stemmed from growing up with a father who was extremely critical and very likely bipolar (my grandmother - his mom - was diagnosed as bipolar). Needless to say, I worked through those issues with the help of an amazing therapist I saw after my father passed away and I can now clearly see how my lack of self-confidence often masqueraded as the voice of fear and held me back in so many ways. For one, it kept me stuck in a job I didn't like for over 10 years because I didn't believe I deserved better. I didn't believe I was worth more than that. I believed that it was okay to waste my entire life being miserable and full of anxiety about work (and I worked as an attorney so "my entire life" is no exaggeration because of the extremely long hours I worked). When I changed these beliefs about myself and what I deserved (and it wasn't easy or quick - it took about 2 years), wow did my life change.
So what's holding you back? Are there rational, substantial reasons why your dream job or dream business could NEVER work out? Or is your dream a feasible idea, but your lack of self-confidence is getting in the way? If it's the latter, one of the most valuable things you could ever do is work on your self-confidence because it'll positively impact all areas of your life. Maybe, like me, you'll need to see a therapist. Trust me, this is time and money well spent. Or maybe you have a healthy level of self-confidence and you just need a daily reminder to distinguish the voice of fear from the voice of self-doubt. It's a daily practice, at least for me, to keep my self-confidence feeling healthy and strong.
If you honestly assess that low self-confidence is holding you back, I can't serve as your therapist but I can tell you one of the theories my therapist shared with me. She told me that increased self-care is one road that can lead to increased self-confidence (and there are books to prove it! Try Kristin Neff's book called Self-Compassion). Self-care includes things like baths, a relaxing weekend with no plans and no running around, journaling in a serene space with a candle and lavender essential oil, cooking a comforting meal (I find cooking so therapeutic!), going for a walk, meditating, etc. It looks different for everyone and is based on what brings you relaxation and comfort. When I was back in therapy, my therapist even gave me an assignment to treat myself to a massage every week for an entire month. (Did the voice in your head just say, "I could never do that!" Yeah, that's probably the pesky voice in your head again saying, "I don't deserve a massage every week. I could never afford that. I'm not worth it." How about getting a chair massage at a nail salon for $20 once a week?). Taking care of yourself in this way teaches your mind that you are worthy of being cared for, which then translates into increased self-worth and confidence.