Have you ever felt like you weren’t good enough? That no matter how hard you tried, you couldn’t silence the negative self-talk that stops you from chasing your dreams? You might experience imposter syndrome, a nagging feeling that makes you doubt your abilities. Escaping that mind state isn’t easy, but millions of people have done it—and so can you. It starts with identifying who you want to be and letting go of the perfectionism crippling your journey.
In this episode of Brilliant Thoughts, SUCCESS People Editor Tristan Ahumada talks to Lisa Bilyeu, co-founder of Quest Nutrition and host of the Women of Impactshow, about overcoming self-doubt. She and her husband, Tom, recently sold Quest Nutrition for $1 billion. Before that, Bilyeu overcame self-doubt to help grow the company and find her purpose.
You don’t reach success until you become the hero of your life. That’s what Bilyeu believes, and she made it a reality in three steps.
1. Envision your best self.
Bilyeu says all personal growth starts with one question: What does my best, most powerful self look like? It’s a challenging question because you can’t use someone else as a reference point. It’s not as simple as responding, “I want to be exactly like my mentor or an entrepreneur on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.” Upgrading your life is a deeply personal task. Every little tweak should be intentional enough to move you in the right direction.
Instead of modeling your life after someone else’s, identify what makes other people successful. Is it their confidence that propels them forward? Do they have more discipline than the average person? Whatever those superpowers are, write them down. Keep the list close by so that each day you can work on adopting those traits.
In the meantime, be patient with yourself. It can take years to identify all the changes you need to make and master new habits. No matter what happens, know that each failure—and they’re bound to happen—isn’t the end of the world. You still have time to correct those mistakes and get better each day.
“Even if you want to be a nicer person—let’s just say that to keep it easy—you don’t wake up, and all of a sudden, you’re nicer,” Bilyeu says. “It takes time, effort and energy from repetitiveness to become that.”
2. Stop chasing perfection.
Did you know that perfectionism has more to do with ego than wanting everything to be perfect? Most people know that life has its flaws. But the ego has a self-serving agenda and tries to convince us otherwise. It pushes us to believe that if we try a little harder, everything can be perfect.
It’s impossible to grow with this mindset, especially when you’re facing self-doubt. The good news? Bilyeu says you can beat perfectionism with flexibility. When she’s facing a difficult challenge, reframing the situation quells those rigid, unproductive thoughts.
“I [went] from spending two days feeling bad about myself, letting a negative voice come in and hold me back, to the point where now, in real-time, I can say, ‘How do I want to respond to this based on the person I want to be?’” Bilyeu says.
Here are four steps to reach that point:
Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Real growth happens when you’re pushed outside of your comfort zone.
Have a learner’s mindset. Take some pressure off of yourself by admitting that you don’t have all the answers. If you’re feeling like an imposter in a room of experts, ask questions. Give yourself permission to grow.
Don’t create deadlines for your growth. Becoming your best self doesn’t need to happen by a specific date. It’s a lifelong process, so focus on the journey, not the destination.
3. Manage your emotions.
Before you get stuck in feelings of self-doubt, try to regulate those emotions. When Bilyeu started helping her husband with Quest Nutrition, she constantly asked herself one question: “What are the things I need to do right now to show up?” That often meant speaking up in meetings, even when she was immobilized by fear.
“I found being in those meetings extremely detrimental to my self-esteem…. You’re in a room full of people, and you have no idea what they’re talking about, and I felt bad about myself,” Bilyeu says. “Then I said, ‘Ok, you have a choice. You can keep coming into this room feeling bad about yourself, you can stop coming into this room or you can admit that they’ve got 15 years on you, and now you can start putting your head down and learning instead of focusing on the emotion you feel badly about.’”
Another part of emotional regulation is taking care of yourself. No matter how busy you are as an entrepreneur, eating well and exercising are two ways to stay in control of your emotions. It’s hard to make good decisions when tired or hungry, so creating healthy routines is vital. Bilyeu likes to lift weights in the morning (after resting well), and she’s mindful of how certain foods affect her body.
Everyone has different needs, though. Be sure to learn your body so you can have an emotionally successful day, stay in control and slowly conquer the self-doubt that’s holding you back.
DISCLAIMER: The people interviewed are well-trained experts and highly skilled in their areas of practice. They take many safety precautions prior to attempting the activities described. The activities or research discussed in these podcasts should not be attempted without qualified supervision and training with professionals.