Self-doubt. Second-guessing our instincts. That voice in our head saying, “You’re not good enough.” or “Someone else would have a better plan.” I have stared down these gremlins myself and see them all the time in my work with other women entrepreneurs.  While we each have our own version of negative self-talk, the good news is that these limiting beliefs can be overcome.  To achieve and maintain success in business and in our personal lives, we have to get out of our own way. This requires a change in mindset that will free us up from the distraction of the negative voices so we can do our best work.


The five most common limiting beliefs I have seen in female entrepreneurs through my work with women learning to fundraise and interviews for my book Million Dollar Women include:

  1. “If I fail it will be of epic proportions, so I won’t risk too much.”
  2. “I can’t run a multi-million-dollar company, because I don’t have the business experience (or money, or leadership qualities, etc.).”
  3. “I won’t be able to have a personal life if I am the boss.”
  4. “I couldn’t do something big like that alone. I would need a co-founder to take the business to scale — ideally a man who’s good at the numbers side of things.”
  5. “Someone else would do a better job than I would.”

Do any of these statements sound familiar to you?

Here is a way to get started on busting your own limiting beliefs: Write down the limiting beliefs you have — use some of the above examples if you have trouble getting started — and come up with their positive opposites.  For example, replace a limiting belief like, “I shouldn’t be too outspoken or people will think I’m too aggressive” with a positive version, like: “I am bold and confident.”  There is something about seeing them on paper makes you realize they are merely ideas you’ve held on to and taken as gospel. Once you begin to see your limiting beliefs as just words on the page, you can begin to take away their power.

Here are the are four essential steps to busting self-limiting beliefs:

  1. Acknowledge the beliefs that are holding you back.
  2. Get the self-limiting beliefs down on paper, out of your brain and say them aloud to trusted friend, coach, therapist or mentor
  3. Fill up all the newly freed up space with the positive opposite beliefs of the ones you got rid of.
  4. Get active around becoming the person you want to be once you are on the other side of these limiting beliefs (and get ready to go outside your comfort zone!)

Replacing limiting beliefs can be done with a coach, peer group, therapist, or mentor, and will definitely be intimate soul-searching work, so choose your confidants carefully. Having a trusted circle of other entrepreneurs or close friends who believe in you will help you bust those beliefs quicker. And then you can get back to what you love – building your business and creating a life filled with Money, Meaning and Mobility!

Until next time,

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8 thoughts on “Want to Get Ahead in Your Business but Feeling Stuck? Learn How You May Be Holding Yourself Back.

  1. Great post, Julia! I really resonate with fighting my own “inner gremlins” when it comes to going bigger with my business. For me, having a supportive network of other women entrepreneurs has made all the difference. I know I can shoot off an email or pick up the phone to talk to any number of them and they’ll be quick to encourage and talk me off the ledge.

  2. Julia, insightful advice! Unfortunately some of these female-held “limiting beliefs” are reinforced by advisers and society.

    I love your suggestions. I’ve also found value in self-reflective, positive exercises like:
    – daily gratitude: writing down what I’m grateful for on a daily basis helps me appreciate all of the positive things I have pushing me forward
    – celebrating small wins: we’re way too quick to gloss over wins and focus on the inevitable misses, recognizing success makes me feel more successful
    – having goals: articulating personal and company goals makes me focus on the road ahead and what needs to be done to achieve the goals

    My two cents! Thanks for sparking the important conversation.

  3. Thanks, Lindsay! I love the additional tips you offer here – really great, concrete ways that can absolutely keep us forging ahead. Appreciate you sharing!

  4. Thanks, Jayme. My “flying buttresses” as I call them (inner circle of trusted friends that help hold me up) are one of the only reasons I’ve survived the journey so far!

  5. This is really amazing advice and it’s so refreshing to hear that other women struggle with these issues.

    Like so many, I definitely find myself in the fake-it-till-you-make it zone more often than not. When this happens and my confidence starts to falter, I try to channel Brene Brown’s advice to “embrace your vulnerability.” Am I ever going to know all the things I want to know? Probably not. But maybe if I’m scared I’m doing something right and pushing past my current boundaries? At least that’s what I try to tell myself. Those thoughts, the ear of a good friend and two glasses or rosé are usually enough to push me past whatever is holding me back — at least for long enough to have a chance an making some reaffirming progress.

    Thanks again for sharing your experiences and advice!

  6. Thanks for this great post, Julia! I am going to work on busting my self-limiting beliefs this weekend by writing them out and then sharing them. I need to constantly remind myself that I can best buttress myself with my own positive thoughts and beliefs!

  7. Hi Karen, glad this resonated with you! I find breaking through limiting beliefs is like building muscles. Once you build up the stamina, you can keep taking on new ones. And when you say them aloud to others is where the shift really starts to happen… good luck! and keep me posted.

  8. Love your reference to Brené Brown – and for the reminder about embracing vulnerability. Even though it feels awful when it’s happening it’s where some of our biggest breakthroughs happen. I am reading Brown’s new book Rising Strong right now. Thanks too for sharing how you get out of your own way – avec rosé!

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