As a business coach who spends her time working with entrepreneurs as they start and grow their businesses, I’m always surprised by how much of their success (or lack thereof) has to do with their mindset.
Too often what I hear are self-limiting beliefs from clients who speak as if these thoughts are factually true. When I work with health coaches, for example, I often hear fear that they don’t know enough because they're just starting out. That because they don’t have 20 years of experience, a Phd in nutrition, and a well-known brand, that they're "a fraud."
Others are limited because of their perfectionist tendencies and so the idea of failing at a business is terrifying. They say things like, "I couldn’t survive a public form of failure," or "I’m not business-savvy enough" or "I don’t know the right people."
What you say to yourself frames the way you make decisions, and how you move forward with your business. Allowing self-limiting beliefs to take hold will sabotage even the best of efforts. Reframing your thoughts to support your goals is one of the most important things you can do to ensure the success and viability of your business.
Here are a couple of steps to ensure you don’t allow these beliefs to interfere with your business dreams:
1. Identify the beliefs that are holding you back.
I had one client whose father lost a lot of money when she was a child. Her affluent existence disappeared overnight, causing her a lot of anxiety and shame. What she didn’t realize is that she carried this belief – that you can’t make money and keep it – with her into adulthood and it framed the way she ran her business. The belief was so ingrained that she was afraid to grow her sales for fear she’d get used to that lifestyle only to lose it all. She avoided taking simple measures to make more money despite the amazing brand she’d cultivated and grown. The belief was paralyzing her business and preventing her from gaining the lifestyle she wanted.
Your beliefs may not be as extreme or stubborn as this one, but I haven’t met a single entrepreneur who hasn’t had some belief that’s hurting their progress toward their goal. What most people don’t realize is that the rest of the world hasn’t bought into these beliefs. They are only true in your eyes because you’ve chosen to believe them, albeit, unconsciously.
It’s time to dig deep and identify those beliefs that you’re holding on to because that's "the way its always been," not because you actually have evidence to justify them. Until you acknowledge they exist, you cannot untangle these unconscious thoughts from your everyday mindset.
2. Question these thoughts.
The next step is to stop buying into your self-limiting beliefs just because you always have. Start by questioning what evidence you have to support your belief. Is it really true that you need that Phd? Or are there people out there doing the same thing with a lot less? Is it true you have to sacrifice sleep to earn money? Chances are, you won’t find the evidence to support your limiting beliefs. You only believe them because they're a leftover relic from what you’ve heard from the past from someone who never truly understood your capabilities or potential (even if that someone cared deeply for you).
3. Reframe these thoughts.
Now it’s time to move beyond this rigid thinking and be more flexible in what you believe. What behavioral changes can you make to test whether this belief is really, in fact, true? If you believe you have to work ridiculously hard to make money, reduce your hours and see what happens. Perhaps you’ll find the extra sleep makes you more efficient or that the incremental revenue you make by working longer hours is simply not worth the sacrifice.
If you’re in the "I’m a fraud" mindset, put up your website, solicit clients, and see what they have to say. If they’re paying you for your services and you’re providing value to them, then, guess what, you’re not a fraud.
All of this takes effort because you’re unraveling the belief system you’ve been holding on to for many years. It can be a slow process, but the key is to be conscious about it and not let the unconscious take over. Your business, lifestyle, and peace of mind will be better for it.
Have you been holding on to any self-limiting beliefs? How have you overcome them? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.