"Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt."
As with so many other observations, Shakespeare hit the nail on the head.
In my work as a Career Coach, I more often hear people doubt themselves and stop their forward movement because of their doubts, than any other phenomenon.
Here are 10 common doubts I frequently hear:
1. I've just been doing my job all these years. I don't really have any special skills.
2. Well, I've just been a (name the occupation: teacher, marketing assistant, admin); I don't have any experience as a (name the 'new' occupation: computer tech, public speaker, franchise owner).
3. It will take too long to train for this new career.
4. I'll have to go back to school. I haven't been in school in ages.
5. I'm too old. It's too hard to get a job after 50.
6. I'm too young. They want to hire people with experience.
7. I don't know how to get started.
8. The economy's too bad right now.
9. People aren't hiring.
10. I'm not good at promoting myself.
There are many other reasons people give for not going after their dream career, a meaningful job, a purposeful life, but, frankly, most of them are bogus.
They are the inner traitors Shakespeare talks about that lead us to doubt ourselves so much that we also stop the actions that could get us that ideal job.
The problem is most of us believe in our doubts more than we believe in ourselves.
What we're really doing is making excuses because our fears are screaming so loudly we can't hear our desires. When that happens, our fears feed our doubts; our doubts feed our fears in turn and a vicious cycle ensues.
This inner state is so uncomfortable that people will often run back (emotionally) to their comfort zone.
Once in their comfort zone again, they feel somewhat better, but their deeper desire for greater career satisfaction along with a fuller expression of their gifts begins to nag at them again. They quickly learn that running back to the comfort zone is only a temporary fix. And again, they find themselves between a rock and a hard place.
What is the solution?
The REAL solution is to face the fears, feel them and move forward anyway. It means substituting belief for doubt. It means expanding your comfort zone to include your new desires.
How, you may ask, do you do that? There are four effective steps you can take to diminish and finally conquer those doubts and fears.
First is to decide that getting your dream career is more important than staying stuck in fear and doubt.
Then, once you make that decision, write down WHY you want your dream career. The 'WHYS' will anchor your actions, especially when fear and doubt come up again.
Keep these WHYS near at hand where you can read them frequently.
Third, explore your fears a little bit. Instead of becoming paralyzed by them, become curious and challenge your fears. Ask yourself questions like these: "I wonder why I believe that I have nothing to offer. Is it true? Has it been true in the past? Have I learned new skills in my life? When? How have I used these skills? When was I challenged to do something I didn't know how to do at all? Was I successful?
Finally, take action! Like a child learning how to walk, your first actions may be awkward. You may find you have to change directions. But if you keep taking action consistently, you will begin moving in the direction of your dreams.
Soon you'll build momentum and one day you'll realize you are living your dream career through meaningful, productive work. And you'll wonder why you ever thought you couldn't do it.
Here's to banishing the doubts and fears that keep you stuck.
Anita Web Weaver is the owner of Design to Shine Consulting, offering coaching, mentoring and speaking services to help people shine, no matter what, in their career, their life and their health.