There is no doubt that as women, we are particularly prone to second guessing ourselves, especially when it comes to money.
In fact, research by the Association of Financial Advisers recently found that even women with high levels of financial knowledge, ranked themselves on par with men of low levels of financial knowledge.
It is something I see on a daily basis with my clients who are paralysed by the thought of “what if I make the wrong decision?”.
Clearly a lack of self confidence is a big issue and it can often hinder our progress – whether that’s applying for our dream job, negotiating a pay rise, renegotiating our mortgage – the fear of ‘what if ‘ often stops us from even trying.
Let me give you an example.
What if I fail?
I recently decided to host my very first full day workshop. From the moment I had the idea, all these negative thoughts raced through my mind:
“What if nobody comes? Won’t that be embarrassing!”
“What if I lose money? (It’s a big risk pre-paying for the venue, supplies and catering)”
“What if it’s a flop and my reputation is ruined forever?”
It was almost enough to make me want to give up on the idea altogeher.
After the workshop these negative thoughts persisted. I knew I should ask for feedback but again my fear and anxiety started to play up:
“What if they hated it?”
“What if they want their money back?”
“What if they’re telling everyone what a waste of time it was?”
“What if they were just being polite when they said it was great, but deep down they actually hated it?”
You get the idea.
The thing is, I have been down this road enough times (both personally and with my clients) to know that we have a tendency to catastrophize our deepest fears.
And so, I did what I learned I must do: I pushed past my fears.
I ran the workshop and I sent out the anonymous feedback survey.
And guess what.
NONE of the things I had feared, had happened. Not even close.
The workshop sold out (in fact in record time!).
I didn’t lose money.
And it was a huge success.
In fact, the lowest rating I received on the survey was 4 out of 5 stars! Everyone said they would recommend it to a friend, and they all left feeling more confident and inspired about their situation.
But if I hadn’t pushed past my fears and ran the workshop and collected the feedback – I never would have known!
Learning to “feel the fear and do it anyway”
So, while I still often feel fear, I have learned to push past it and take action anyway. It is something that has become easier over time.
By taking action, I have learned time and again that my fear was unfounded.
Which means that with each risk I take I am becoming less fearful and more confident in my abilities.
The key is to make a start!
As Margie Warrell, author of Train the Brave says “Everything you want, is on the other side of fear”.
Recognise your excuses for what they are
Now, you may not even realise that it is fear at play. It may manifest itself in the form of excuses, justifications or reasons why something can’t be done.
While these reasons may be perfectly legitimate obstacles, what is truly at play is your mind being fearful of the unknown.
Taking it step by step
So, if you find yourself thinking “sure I’d like to be able to have or achieve X BUT…” then I encourage you to do the following:
Step 1. Write down what you would like to achieve. Be as specific as you can.
Step 2. Write down all the obstacles you think you will face. Set the list to the side.
Step 3. Ask yourself – what am I afraid will happen, if I try? Write it down and keep asking – what else am I afraid might happen? And what else?
Step 4. Consider – how likely are any of these things to happen? What are the more likely outcomes?
Step 5. Imagine that you knew you would succeed. How would you have done it? Or consider, what would someone you greatly admire do in this same situation? Write down all the steps. The key here is to put yourself into a solution focused mode, rather than being problem focused.
Step 6. Take action. As the saying goes, feel the fear and do it anyway! And remember, if nothing changes – nothing changes! You’ve got this, and I’m here to back you all the way.