Hello all, this post is the first in a series geared toward answering questions from micro creative businesses. Today’s question is a doozy: I call it The Confidence Question.
Q: Do you ever find yourself struggling with a lack of confidence? I feel like I’m always dealing with a sort of self doubt or imposter syndrome. Does it go away over time, or do you just find ways to deal with it?
Confidence and comfort zones go hand in hand. I wrote in my book Make Something Meaningful that comfort zones are elastic. Stretch them often enough and soon they’ll take on a new shape. Stop stretching and they’ll slowly shrink. Confidence is the same way.
The way to work through a confidence issue is simply to do the thing frequently enough that it doesn’t feel so difficult anymore.
There are a whole host of brain science reasons why this works, but let’s skip the science and use a more personal example: riding a bike. The first time you ride a bike it’s pretty terrifying! You’re trying to do multiple things at once: get your balance, steer the wheel, and remember to keep pedaling – all while watching the earth move beneath your feet.
But as you get your bearings, it starts to become less difficult. Pretty soon, you’re not even thinking about it anymore. You just get on your bike and ride.
(True story: I was reminded of just how difficult it actually is to ride a bike a number of years ago while visiting my grandfather. He’d just gotten a new recumbent bike, which was easier on his hips than a standard bicycle. He let me try it out. I was so focused on getting my feet to pedal in this new orientation that I literally rode it right into a tree.)
See, here’s the thing:
Everything is hard the first time you do it.
Some things are harder than others, and some things are scarier than others. But practice is always the way through. Practice creates new neural pathways in your brain and more practice reinforces them. You go from having no neural pathway at all to a mental four-lane highway.
Of course we don’t always remember this. We think to ourselves, THIS time is different. This time it really IS hard.
And while we may be right – this time is different, after all – the path is still the same:
Keep doing the thing until it gets easier.
Have a question of your own? Send me a message: