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Coach Carlene

Overthinking is when what you think gets in the way of what you want.

It’s one of the most expensive things in the world because it wastes time, creativity, and productivity. It’s an epidemic of inaction.

Essentially, overthinking is when your brain spins on a thought or an idea for longer than you anticipated. Unfortunately, overthinking tends to lean toward the negative. Left to its own devices, it will naturally gravitate toward things you don’t want to dwell on.

I have to constantly ask myself things like, “Do I want to donate an afternoon of brain space to churn over something dumb I said to a friend three months ago?” What’s worse is if I don’t give it the space to process during the day, it finds a way of creeping into my brain at night and the cycle of insomnia continues.

Thoughts are something you have, not something you hone. We can’t control them, right? That’s why whenever we talk about thinking, we describe it as something outside of us that operates on its agenda:

  • “I got lost in my thoughts.”
  • “My thoughts got away from me.”
  • “She got carried away by her thoughts.”

We treat our thoughts as something we have no control over. If we don’t control our thoughts, then I guess our thoughts control us.

Our brain likes to believe the things it already believes. We’re magnets for information and experiences that confirm the things we already think about ourselves and the world.

If one of your beliefs is that you’re the most disorganized mom ever, then being three minutes late to the after-school pickup line will confirm that. 

Even if that morning you got both kids to school on time, worked a full-time job, planned dinner, and scheduled the carpool for soccer this weekend, your brain will still convince you to ignore any new evidence that doesn’t agree with that engrained belief. 

When you pick the thoughts you listen to the most, there’s no limit to what you can accomplish.

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Now that you know your brain can be a real jerk, do you want to leave your thoughts to chance?

Think about all the opportunities and adventures you’ll miss out on if these sabatoging thoughts, AKA limiting beliefs are in charge of your actions.

How do you know which thoughts to listen to?

Ask yourself these 3 quick questions.

Question 1: Is it true?

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is assuming all your thoughts are true. We believe that if it’s in our head, it must be accurate. If I think it, it must be real. 

I promise you’ll be shocked by how many lies you have cluttering up your head. 

Question 2: Is it helpful?

The question “Is it true?” won’t be enough to smoke out the lies in your head. Asking yourself is this thought helpful? Does it move you forward or keep you stuck? Does it lead to a decision or limit a decision? Does it generate action or apathy?

A client of mine, let’s call her Sarah, told me she will never be able to get rid of the clutter in her house. She was raised in a cluttered house and she doesn’t know any other way of living. 

Well, that is not entirely true. Yes, she grew up in a cluttered home. But what is not true is that she will NEVER be able to get rid of clutter in her adult home. 

It is also not helpful. It stops her from taking action. She’s already made up her mind by listening to this thought. 

She can choose another thought. “I can figure this out and ask someone to help me.”

She can make a choice to take one small action of cleaning out one drawer, one closet or one cabinet. 

Question 3: Is it kind? 

Is the thought you’re listening to kind to yourself? After listening to it a few times, do you feel better about yourself? Are you encouraged about your life and opportunities? 

For Sarah, her thought of “I’ll never be able to get rid of the clutter in my home,” is not kind. It tells her she’s not capable. 

Mike Peasley, PhD, asked ten thousand people how overthinking made them feel, 73 percent responded “inadequate.” When asked if overthinking left them feeling drained, 52 percent of people said yes. 

Do you know why overthinking makes you feel inadequate and drained? Because you’ve been listening to unkind thoughts about yourself on repeat.

If you’re still stuck figuring out which thoughts to tune into ask this last question:

Would I say this to a friend?

If you liked this, grab your free guide:
The Habit of Self-Doubt: Crush it and Build Real Confidence

Burnout is not what you think it is. It is not about being too busy or having too much to do.

You see, burnout is about how we handle having too much to do. It’s about how we let our to-do lists and demands from others hijack us and create a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet those constant demands.

You are the only one who can manage how you respond to all that stuff coming at you. It’s about protecting your energy and you have control over that.

Here are 7 ways you can start protecting your energy today.

  1. Unfollow, mute, or block as needed on social media.
    Social media is a huge “energy suck”. Mentally we compare ourselves to others and feel like we aren’t enough, that we don’t have enough. This zaps so much energy. Make sure if you are on social media that you unfollow those accounts that make you feel like garbage. Follow “real people”. They should inspire you, make you laugh and show you their flaws, struggles and triumphs.

  2. Turn your ringer off, leave the text unread, or call them back later.
    Technology has put us in a state of being expected to answer someone immediately. Think about how you feel when someone doesn’t respond to your text right away. Do you think, “Oh they must be upset with me”, or “They don’t care about me”, or “They really don’t want to go hang out so they’re ignoring me”?

    Most of the time, none of those are true. Most likely, these are the people who are setting boundaries to give themselves a break from constantly “being on”. Follow their lead. It’s up to you to manage peoples expectations of you. Initially, set-up some auto-responses when you get a text or a call that let’s everyone know you are not available right now and you’ll get back to them as soon as you can.

  3. Take an emotional/mental break from people that leave you drained.
    Again, this is about setting boundaries. We all have those people in our lives who use up all our energy reserves. You can still be there for these people, but you need to set boundaries on how often you make yourself available to them.

  4. Practice resting as a preventative measure.
    I can’t even tell you how many of us punish ourselves for taking a break. When we’re taking a break we sit there and feel guilty, thinking about all the other things we SHOULD be doing instead. The challenge is to REST, GUILT FREE. When you truly check out mentally, you will return to your work with a fresh perspective, clear of the brain fog.

  5. Don’t be available for every request of your time.
    Do you hear boundaries again? You can start adopting a personal challenge to start saying NO. You could start slow by simply saying “Not now.” Everyone else will be amazed at how capable they are when they now have the space to have to figure something out on their own without you. If you’re being asked to do something socially, that you know drains you, then say “not now”. You have the power to choose.

  6. Stop doing things just because you SHOULD or can do it yourself.
    First ask yourself what would happen if you simply did not do this thing? Would anyone else care? Do you really care? If not, stop doing it. If it is a MUST do, consider asking for help or pay for assistance if you can.

  7. Speak up as a strategy to prevent future frustration, burnout, and discomfort.
    You need to tell people what’s going on with you. If there is too much on your plate at work, speak up. Of course, don’t do this in a whining, complaining way. Tell your boss, you feel like the workload is too much and you’re concerned the quality of your work is at risk and you want to do your best work. Go in with a solution, maybe recommending what can come off your plate or what can be put on hold for now.

    If you’re frustrated at home, talk to your family and tell them what you need and from them. No one can read your mind.

You know your needs. Honor your needs by protecting your energy. You get to decide how to use it.

If you like this, grab your free guide here:
The Habit of Self-Doubt: Crush It and Build Real Confidence

In my work as an ADHD coach, there is one common problem that all of my clients share: painful self-doubt. The ADHD brain is, unfortunately, fertile ground for the seeds of self-doubt.

It’s so easy for us ADHD or not, to get stuck up in our heads overthinking and ruminating about everything. Much of the advice around building confidence is about changing our mindset. That is one important piece of it. But for most of us, the mindset work is so hard and takes forever. 

Studies have shown that the fastest way to change all the negative garbage in our heads is to take action that proves all those thoughts wrong. 

How many times have you told yourself, “I never do what I say I’m going to do. I don’t know why I even keep trying.” You’re telling yourself that you can’t count on YOU. Sheesh, if you can’t count on YOU, who can you count on? I’m telling you, you can count on you. 

The key to proving this limiting belief wrong is to start to build self-trust. When you learn you can count you to show up for you, it is the beginning of you building the skill of confidence. 

Start building your self-trust by making one small promise to yourself. Do it for you, not anyone else.

Pick one of the following confidence building habits and commit to doing it every single day.

1. Make your bed every morning. This tells your brain rest is over and it’s a new day. It also makes you feel productive, because you just did something, you made your bed. Of course, it looks so much better than an unmade bed. 

2. Drink 8 – 8 ounce glasses of water every day. Studies have shown that the number one reason we lose focus is because we are dehydrated. What a simple way to boost focus & productivity that then boosts our confidence.

3. Don’t look at social media for at least 1 hour after waking. I feel like garbage when I’m on social media, comparing myself to everyone else, feeling like I don’t measure up. When we look at this before even getting out of bed, we haven’t given ourselves the time to figure out how we feel today. 

We look at the perfect Instagram pics and everyone’s fancy vacations and feel like our lives are boring or we don’t have enough. That’s a horrible way to start our day. Think of it like this. What if you woke up and there were 100 people standing in your bedroom. Imagine they are all talking at the same time telling you about their perfect lives. I don’t know about you, but I would tell them to get the heck out. When you look at your social media first thing before getting out of bed, you’ve invited people to wake up with you (kind of creepy), some of whom you haven’t ever met or haven’t talked to in years. 

Set yourself up for success

  1. Write down your promise to yourself and keep it in plain sight.
  2. You can also share your promise with someone and get them to make a promise to themselves too and check in with each other daily.

If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up. It’s not about perfection. It’s about showing up for yourself. Building the skill of confidence is within your reach. Get out of your head and get into action.  

If you liked this grab your free confidence building guide:
The Habit of Self-Doubt: Crush It and Build Real Confidence

Burnout is the product of unhealthy expectations with yourself or others. We cannot do and be everything. 

Much worse than ordinary fatigue, burnout makes it challenging for you to cope with stress and handle day-to-day responsibilities.

If you’re experiencing burnout you may often feel like you have nothing left to give and may dread getting out of bed each morning. You may even adopt a pessimistic outlook toward life and feel hopeless.

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.

Do you recognize any of these 7 Common Causes of Burnout in your life?

~Listening to people when you don’t have the emotional capacity to hold space for them.

~Working hard and not being shown appreciation for your efforts.

~Overextending yourself to others.

~Unreasonable expectations for yourself or unreasonable expectations placed on you.

~Not taking care of yourself but taking care of others.

~Trying to manage situations outside of your control.

~Offering advice to people who don’t value your feedback.

Once you identify what is causing your burnout you can take steps eliminate them or manage them in a healthy way.

Tune in to your behaviors and how you are really feeling. You may find you’re suffering from one or more of these burnout symptoms

Exhaustion. Feeling physically and emotionally depleted. Physical symptoms may include headaches, stomachaches, and appetite or sleeping changes.

Isolation. You tend to feel overwhelmed. As a result, you may stop socializing and confiding in friends, family members, and co-workers.

Escape fantasies. Dissatisfied with the never-ending demands of your job, you may fantasize about running away or going on a solo-vacation. In extreme cases, you may turn to drugs, alcohol, or food as a way to numb your emotional pain.

Irritability. Burnout can cause you to lose your cool with friends, co-workers, and family members more easily. Coping with normal stressors like preparing for a work meeting, driving kids to school, and tending to household tasks also may start to feel insurmountable, especially when things don’t go as planned.

Frequent illnesses. Burnout, like other long-term stress, can lower your immune system, making you more susceptible to colds, the flu, and insomnia. Burnout can also lead to mental health concerns like depression and anxiety.

Stress is unavoidable. Burnout won’t go away on its’ own, but it is preventable by taking some steps to keep stress from getting the best of you. 

  1. Let go of people pleasing
  2. Accept that you’re not supposed to spread yourself so thin
  3. Eliminate toxic people and find people to support you
  4. Get back to the basics of self-care

    Exercise: Not only is exercise good for our physical health, but it also gives us an emotional boost.
    Stretched for time? You don’t need to spend hours at the gym to reap these benefits. Mini-workouts and short walks are convenient ways to make exercise a daily habit.

    Eat a balanced diet: Eating a healthy diet filled with omega-3 fatty acids can be a natural antidepressant. Adding foods rich in omega-3s like flaxseed oil, walnuts, and fish may help give your mood a boost.

    Practice good sleep habits: Our bodies need time to rest and reset which is why healthy sleep habits are essential for our well-being. According to the National Sleep Foundation, avoiding caffeine before bedtime, establishing a relaxing bedtime ritual, and banning smartphones from the bedroom can help promote sound sleep hygiene.

    Ask for help: During stressful times, it’s important to reach out for help. If asking for assistance feels difficult, consider developing a self-care “check-in” with close friends and family members so that you can take care of each other during trying times.

Knowing your limits is an important part of preventing burnout.

If you are experiencing burnout, consider this:

What can you change now?

What needs to change soon?

What supports do you need?

What boundaries can you place with yourself and others?

The voices in our head ring so loudly. We hold on to the times when someone discounted our worth or criticized us. What would it be like to show up boldly instead of shrinking? How many opportunities, connections and moments of peace have passed us by because of our self-sabotaging thoughts? 

Does this sound familiar?

“I’m not good enough.”
“I’m never going to reach my goal.”
“I am not enough.”
“It’s not possible for me.”

These thoughts and beliefs are not based in fact; but fear, hurt or trauma. Sadly, we act on them as if they are true. Science has proven over and over again that what we think to be true will impact our actions.

What are we to do? 

Here are 4 strategies I use to stop those self-sabotaging conversations. 

First – journal & acknowledge where these thoughts are coming from. This is called root cause analysis.

Identify the self-sabotaging thought and then ask yourself at least 5 times:

Why am I thinking that? Answer
Then….Why am I thinking that? Answer
Then…Why am I thinking that? Answer  
Keep going until you get 5 answers deep. This will get you to the root of that thought. 

As you get to that root thought, you dig it up. It’s ok. There’s going to be a big hole where that negative root thought or belief lived. It’s important to back fill that hole with truth. “I am talented. I am a good person. I am worthy of being loved. I am deserving of this promotion.”

Replace those negative thoughts with empowered thoughts that are actually true. 

Second, stay in inspired action.

You’ve heard of the confidence competence loop. The more you do something, the better you become. When you first started riding a bike, you faltered and fell a few times. But you kept at it. The more you tried it, the better you got. And one day, you were able to ride successfully without falling, to the point that you now thoroughly enjoy riding the bike. This is the same competence confidence loop that you can employ in other areas of your life.

You need to start with one small step. Then you’ll say, “Ahhh, I actually can do this.” Repeat this and eventually you will be taking bigger steps. 

Doing anything new is going to be uncomfortable, so stop thinking it’s supposed to feel different. Reframe being uncomfortable by telling yourself, “I’m uncomfortable because I’m growing. I’m doing something new and exciting.”   

Third, write out & celebrate the small wins. 

What I’m talking about here are the baby steps that happen one by one and day by day. The incremental victories that are so small we often overlook them. 

It turns out that those little victories are a huge untapped source of motivation. Basically, it all comes down to something called “completion bias.” As humans, we are essentially hard-wired to get high off completion. 

What happens is that when your brain recognizes a task as complete, it releases dopamine, which makes you feel pleasure, which makes you want to repeat that behavior again and again. 

And what researchers have found is that this completion bias makes us predisposed to want to focus on quick, easy-to-finish tasks, as opposed to longer, more challenging, complex tasks. We like quick tasks because we like to get that little hit of completion, and we like to get it fast. 

Let’s say your goal is to write a book, then your metric might be words written per day Or, if you’re doing customer service, you’d write down the name of each person that you helped today on a post-it and stick them all up on the wall behind your computer. Track your wins, ESPECIALLY the small ones. 

Celebrate in a way that is meaningful and significant to you. Maybe use a win jar, where you keep thank you notes, write a compliment you got or a small win on a post it. Continue to remind yourself you are talented, worthy, skilled, and capable.

Fourth, get an accountability partner; someone you can share your wins with and who can hold you accountable to your goals and a healthy mindset.

Having a community to cheer you on is so valuable. The best way to create accountability is to take that promise you made to yourself about your goal and externalize it — so that you are not the only one invested in your success.

The fact of the matter is: humans are social animals. And the need to feel a connection to other people, and the need to feel a sense of belonging drives everything that we do. 

We don’t like to let people down. This is why people are more likely to run regularly if they join a running group, it’s why they’re more likely to lose weight if they join Weight Watchers, and it’s why they’re more likely to quit drinking if they join AA. 

It’s an incredibly powerful motivator for us when we feel like we will be celebrated when we achieve our goal. Or… let’s be honest, when we know we will feel guilty if we don’t achieve our goal. But we’re all driven by the desire to deliver on our promises to others. 

Don’t simply accept those self-sabotaging thoughts. You have control over them and how you choose to move forward. I know this sounds dramatic, but it’s true. If you follow these 4 strategies, you will change your life one baby step at a time. 

When you realize that you won’t die from letting go of things you thought you needed, you will be able to pursue things that are healthier for you. As you learn to let go, your self-esteem and self-confidence will grow.

Letting go is so hard because we allow our default thoughts to keep us stuck. The more we can simply watch our thoughts come and go without attaching our identity to them, the easier letting go becomes.

Thoughts are nothing more than thoughts. What we decide to do with them is what can either make us or break us.

Letting go requires you to release all doubt, worry, and fear about a situation, person or outcome.

Letting go is about accepting what is happening right now and not worrying about what will come up tomorrow.

Learning to let go is not as difficult as you might think. But it does take some courage and determination. Here are 5 Steps you can take to start letting go.

1. Stop Blaming Others

We often blame others for our misfortunes. We feel we’re the victim of others’ injustices. While this may be the case, we cannot waste our lives waiting for other people to repair the harm they did to us. They may be unwilling, or even unable.

2. Make a Decision to Let Go

Letting go is a choice to decide that you will no longer ruminate on things that are out of your control, and focus on what you can control, instead.

It would help if you put that decision in writing. Write a statement like, “I have decided to let go of ________. I realize that holding on to this is preventing me from growing and being happy.” You can expand on this by listing more of the benefits you’ll receive, and how you look forward to a new chapter in your life.

Once you’ve written your decision statement, print it and post it some place where you’ll see it every day. Also, copy it by hand in a notebook regularly, such as once a day until you are certain you won’t go back. This will ingrain it in your subconscious mind, and the new behavior will begin to manifest itself naturally.

3. Trust That You’ll Be Okay

One of the reasons we hold on to things is that we think we need them to survive. Remember, letting go is the release of our mental and emotional fixation on something. It is not a physical letting go. 

Trust that you’ll be okay. If you have to, lean on a friend. Your experience isn’t unique. Chances are that many other people have gone through the same experience, and they’ve survived. You don’t have to go through a detachment by yourself. You are not alone.

4. Forgive

To truly let go and move on, sometimes you have to forgive people who aren’t even sorry. Sometimes you have to accept an apology you’ll never receive. That takes so much strength and courage and humility. While it may seem unfair and backwards, sometimes, that’s how the chips will fall.

There’s nothing worse than holding onto resentment about someone or something for years, while they happily move on with life. And the reality is, doing this only hurts you. The most important thing is that we also have to learn to forgive ourselves.

This can be done by writing a letter to yourself, replacing self-loathing with self-compassion, and deciding to make better choices next time.

5. Learn the Lesson and Move On

Life is a series of experiences that are meant to teach us important lessons. When we refuse to let go of something, it is because we refuse to see what life is trying to teach us. As a result, we feel stuck.

When you’re having trouble letting go of something, ask yourself, “what can I learn from this experience?” The answer may not be revealed to you immediately. But when it is, you’ll be able to let go, and move on with your life.

Everyday we have a choice to keep holding on just a little bit longer, or choose that today is the day we will finally let go.

If you like this, you’ll love this free guide.

The Habit of Self-Doubt: Crush It and Build Real Confidence.

If left to simmer, fear turns to paralyzing self-doubt. There is the fear of not fitting in, of being ostracized, of disappointing others, of failure or even success. 

I’m here to tell you that a life that is exciting, joyful and meaningful, is on the other side of that fear.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

I mean it. Really take some time to answer that question. 

And when you find your answers, go out and plan to do exactly what you are afraid of doing.

We allow ourselves to be caged in by fear, the tiger in our mind that keeps us within the boundaries of our comfort zone. But fear, like any other emotion is just a feeling. It’s not pleasant, but if you can lean into its discomfort, you will discover endless new possibilities for yourself.

Life is short. It truly is. This past year has been a painful reminder to all of us. You may think you have time. That there will be a day that you will not be scared, and then you’ll do it.

But here’s the thing, that day will not come. The only way you will stop being afraid and stop doubting yourself is by doing exactly what you are afraid of. Stop waiting.

Ask yourself, is what I’m scared of really that important? In the bigger picture of it all, does it really matter?

The answer is no. If you focus on “why” the thing you’re afraid to do is important, you get to choose. 

Why is it important for you to ask for a promotion & get a raise? 

To feed your family, to take vacations, to get out of debt? 

Are those things more important than your fear of your boss saying no? 

Remember it’s not about your fear. A mantra I use, when I’m stuck at this point of choice, is NAM – Not About Me. It’s not about me and my fears. It’s about taking care of my family. 

It’s a heavy weight to carry around living your life dictated by the limitations of the imagined fears in your head. 

It is not about the absence of fear, but a way of using the fear as a compass to guide you in the right direction, knowing that whatever comes your way, you’ll deal with it. 

If you’re scared of something, then it very likely is the one thing that you should be doing. And each and every time you do this, you grow in ways you never thought possible. 

If you really knew and understood your time here was limited, would that change your perspective on your fears? If you knew you only had another 5 years, would that change things? A year? A month? A week? 

We allow ourselves to hide under the comfortable blanket of certainty. But in the end, it won’t matter. It won’t matter that you failed at something. Get real. We all do. It comes with being human. It won’t matter that it took you longer than expected or that you didn’t do the best job of it, or that you never even succeeded.  

What matters is that you succeed in life. And with that I mean, that you tried, you learned, you grew, you lived, you loved, and in some way made a difference in someone’s day.

So what are you afraid of? And what step can you take to do exactly that? What challenge can you set for yourself, big or small?

If you like this, you’ll love this free guide.

Grab it now. It’ll help you find your “why”.

The Habit of Self-Doubt: Crush It and Build Real Confidence.

Now, if you’re a productivity fan, you love shortcuts, right? What if I told you, it’s not about all those quick get-it-done hacks? 

Today’s productivity advice (and the whole work ethic, for that matter) is missing an essential human component. It misses a person with a body, feelings and emotions at the center of the productivity system. 

Modern productivity and success advice is presented in a way that if anyone tries it, it will always work. If it doesn’t, then the person is probably lazy or lacks willpower. Nothing less is acceptable.

Soul crushing, right?

Here’s the secret. 

At the center of it all is “you”. All productivity, performance and success start with you. 

You may have all the motivation and all the best of intentions. Heck, you may even have a plan.

But if you don’t trust yourself, you can’t make decisions and you don’t believe you are capable.

You can’t count on yourself to do what you want and need to do. So you make excuses. You procrastinate. You start, but you don’t finish. Or you never start. 

It is simple. Who would have known?

It’s about trusting yourself.

It’s about trusting yourself to handle whatever shows up.

When you begin to really trust yourself, it’s all about you connecting with the real you, being able to trust yourself more and follow your own inner wisdom.

When you start to trust yourself, you see that you can drop all of the prepping to be perfect. There are so many ways you can save hundreds of hours every year once you trust yourself more.

That all sounds great, but how do we trust ourselves?

It’s called simple discipline.

Simple discipline is the practice of making and keeping promises to yourself.

Most of us struggle with consistency. We tell ourselves, “I didn’t do that thing before, why would this time be any different?” We give up before we ever get started because we don’t trust ourselves.
 
If we can keep promises to ourselves, then we can keep promises that we are making everywhere else in our lives. 

These promises are the foundation of our daily lives, which is the foundation for our goals and dreams. 

The only way to change the big things in your life is to change the small things first — your daily habits, your morning routine, your evening ritual and everything in between.

Here are some small promises my clients and I have made and kept. 
1. Make your bed.

2. Start each morning with a cup of tea or warm lemon water.

3. Don’t look at your phone until you are dressed and ready to start your day.

4. Stretch immediately after getting out of bed. (If you wake up anxious or overwhelmed, this helps move that through and out of your body.)

5. Review tomorrow’s calendar and to-do’s after dinner.
 
6. Lay out your work-out clothes the night before. (This will help with getting you to actually work-out!)

7. Do a 5-10 minute guided meditation before bed.

8. Write down one thing you’re grateful for before you go to bed.

Now it’s your turn.

Make one small promise to yourself that you will keep every single day. And, no, you won’t get it perfect. When you miss a day, give yourself grace, and start again tomorrow.

Remember, you’ve probably doubted yourself your entire life. Building self-trust isn’t a quick thing. Frequency and consistency of keeping small promises to yourself will speed it up.
 
Oh, did I mention, when you trust yourself, you build confidence? When you’re more confident you take action. When you take action you are more productive.

If you liked this, download your free guide: The Habit of Self-Doubt: Crush It and Build Real Confidence

How we set-up our day determines how we end our day.

It’s so common for many of us to hit the snooze button everyday.

The amount of sleep you get never feels like enough, so you use your snooze button to tack on an extra 10, 20, 30 minutes… whatever you can squeeze in.

Those stolen minutes — as delicious as they seem — aren’t worth it. 

I’ve heard you should get up as soon as your alarm rings — but why is hitting that snooze button bad for you? Turns out this habit is counterintuitive; instead of giving us a little more rest, it makes us more tired during the day.

Contrary to what you might think, those spurts of sleep between alarms won’t leave you feeling more rested. You’re basically oscillating between sleep and wakefulness without reaching deep, restorative sleep, which takes longer than just a few minutes to enter, according to Xue Ming, a professor of neurology at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, who specializes in sleep disorders.

The body needs some time to get you ready to wake up. When you let yourself go back to sleep, your body thinks, “False alarm! I guess I didn’t need to do anything, because we’re not getting up after all,” and settles in.

When that buzzer goes off a second time, your body and brain are taken by surprise, resulting in that groggy, fuzzy-headed feeling called sleep inertia. The more you snooze, the more confused your body and brain get (“So are we going back to sleep or not?!”), so you’ll probably feel more out of it even though you actually spent extra time in bed.

What’s more, this groggy, fuzzy-headed feeling can persist for up to two to four hours.

This sleep inertia leads to difficulty getting our day started. It’s harder to get in the zone and focus. Our attention span is shorter throughout day. We get cranky more easily and we give up on ourselves. 

At day’s end, we feel like garbage because we didn’t get our stuff done and then we repeat the snooze button habit all over again.

The answer here is simple. Set your alarm for the time you really want to get up. When your alarm goes off, GET UP! 

A simple answer doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a simple habit to break. Tell yourself before you go to bed that you are going to get up when your alarm goes off. Then when it goes off in the morning, count down 5-4-3-2-1 and GET UP.

It literally, takes our brain 5 seconds to talk us out of doing the thing we promised ourselves we’d do. Counting backwards and then taking action will interrupt your habit brain. 

Think about how great it will feel to NOT be in a brain fog for hours. Think about how much more you’ll be able to accomplish. Think about how good you’ll feel at the end of the day.

If you liked this grab your free Productivity Guide here.

When we are stressed and anxious we usually fall into one or more behavior traps that keep us stuck. We repeat these things over and over. Most of the time we don’t even know we are doing these things. They have become our habit and our way of protecting ourselves.

These are the most common go-to behaviors when our anxiety is triggered and what you can do instead.

1. PROCRASTINATION

Procrastination is a way of avoiding the thing that is stressful for you. This keeps you from doing the things you want and need to do and you likely beat yourself up for procrastinating. 

What to do instead:

When your procrastination has been triggered, ask yourself, “What am I avoiding? Can I avoid it forever or will I have to do it eventually?”

Most likely, you’re going to have to do it at some point.  You get to choose if you step into this zone of being uncomfortable now or later. Choose now so you can get it over with and you can stop thinking and stressing about it.  

If you are second-guessing yourself and you’re not sure what your first or next step is, talk it out with a friend or co-worker. The fear of “I don’t know what to do” can be solved quickly.

Now go do the darn thing! You got this!

2. WORRYING 

When you feel anxious, you think about everything that can go wrong. You stay stuck in the worry and cannot take action. 99.9% of the things you are worrying about will never happen. It feels so huge in your head though. Worrying creates stress in your body and leads to full blown anxiety. Do you wake in the middle of the night worrying about things? It’s so frustrating, isn’t it? 

The fact is, that never, ever, ever has a problem been solved by worrying.  

Here’s how to break the worry cycle:

Ask yourself, “What do I have control over?” Then decide what action you can take in that space of control. Worrying is NOT an action. 

Once you see there is something you can do, go do it! There is nothing more powerful over our minds than taking action and proving all our worry thoughts wrong. 

3. PERFECTIONISM 

Did you know that perfectionism is the greatest form of procrastination? It helps us avoid the things that make us anxious. Perfect does NOT exist, which means you will never finish that thing you’re working on. You may never even get started.

Perfectionism is a trap, fooling us into thinking that we have such high standards for ourselves and that’s a good thing. Wrong! It holds us back from learning and growing. If you’ve ever heard of the growth mindset, you know what I’m talking about. When you adopt a growth mindset you don’t think about getting it all right. You think about what is this “try” going to teach me, so the next time I “try” I’ll be smarter. 

Here’s what you can do:

When you find yourself trying to get it perfect, ask yourself “What’s the worst thing that will happen if this is B+ work instead of A+ work? Will anyone but me really notice?” Probably not. Approach each thing you are avoiding as an opportunity to learn something new. If this mindset is foreign to you, check out Carol Dweck’s book Mindset – The New Psychology of Success.

4. STRESS EATING 

When you’re feeling anxious food comforts you. Well, it comforts you in the moment. But later you most likely regret that emotional eating. We all have our comfort foods. The biggest problem with this behavior is it is such an auto-pilot response we don’t even notice it. 

Here’s what you can do:

Before you grab something and put it in your mouth ask yourself, “Am I hungry?” If not, exit the kitchen and go get busy for 10 minutes. Your desire to comfort yourself with food will most likely go away.  Try some deep breathing.

And this next one is the most powerful…get up and move! Anxiety isn’t just an emotion. It sits in our body as muscle aches, a racing heart, a heavy heart, sweaty palms etc. When you move, you help the anxiety move through and out of your body. Give it a try.

If you’re not sure which of the above behaviors is your default, go take this quick 5 question quiz to find out.

We might not always have a firm grasp of confidence, but we know it when we see it. We know it because we feel it, and we know what it feels like to be around it. Which is one reason the definition of confidence can be so hard to pin down. Confidence is really an experience—both of ourselves and of other people.

We also know when we don’t feel it. In the presence of an insecure person—or, even more telling, a person pretending to be confident—we not only notice their lack of confidence, but also their shaky attempts to compensate for it.

The concept of fake-it-til-you-make-it gets you only so far. When we fake-it, our confidence can appear quite strong, only to crumble in the face of struggle, criticism or failure. In those moments, it seems like confidence is nothing more than a fleeting feeling, a passing belief in our own power, a temporary reprieve between periods of self-doubt.

It is in these moments of self-doubt that we become vulnerable. Our lack of confidence broadcasts to the world how susceptible we really are.

In an increasingly complex world, confidence is one of the greatest weapons we can develop. 

Confidence manifests in a number of highly visible ways: our body language, tone of voice, verbal cues and micro-decisions. No matter how hard we try, we can’t really hide how we feel about ourselves. We broadcast our weaknesses wherever we go.

We wear our lack of confidence like a badge, and that badge unconsciously tells the world how to treat us.

Unfortunately, there will always be people ready to capitalize on those weaknesses. In some cases, that vulnerability will invite trouble in relatively varying ways from a shifty cab driver offering us a ride off the meter to a manipulative family member controlling our happiness and resources, or a power-hungry manager exploiting us in the workplace. 

Even worse is that predators look for people who are meek, mild, weak, unfocused, and distracted. “Criminals are looking for easy pickings. They’re looking for someone who they can take by surprise and will likely not resist,” says Jean O’Neil, director of research and evaluation for the National Crime Prevention Council.

She suggests presenting yourself in a confident assertive manner. When walking down the street, make eye contact with people who look at you. O’Neil says that signals the would-be offender that you are confident, in charge and aware that they are there. 

If you take a moment to think back, you can probably remember a time you were taken advantage of in a moment of low confidence. That wasn’t an accident. It was your degree of confidence at the time that exposed you to that situation, and it was your relationship to your confidence that determined how well you handled it.

The outcome of that experience might have taught you a lesson and increased your confidence in the future. Or it might have confirmed what you subconsciously believe about yourself and left you vulnerable to a similar scenario down the road.

So in addition to enhancing our work and character, confidence also helps protect us, physically and emotionally. That’s why working on it matters so much. We aren’t just talking about style and appearances. We’re talking fundamentally about who we are, how we present ourselves in the world, and how the world will treat us in return.

Grab your free guide:

The Habit of Self-Doubt:
Crush it and Build Real Confidence

As a remote worker, you often have flexibility with your work schedule, but it’s easy to get sucked into just one more hour when you’re already at home and aren’t facing a commute. 

If you’re serious about leaving work behind at the end of the day to maximize your free time, set office hours—and stick to them.

Meetings usually get us going at a pretty decent hour in the morning. The problem is the end of the day. If we don’t set a quitting time, we’ll just keep on working. Worse is when our colleagues figure that out and start calling us after “normal work hours.”  

Committing to and communicating your quitting time can be a game changer. Here’s the thing. You have to honor it Every. Single. Day. 

3 Benefits of Setting a Work End Time 

#1 When you set your quitting time you activate Parkinson’s Law – the adage that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” In other words, any project that you have expands to the amount of time you have to give it.

If you’re in school and you got a paper due in 2 weeks, how long is it going to take you to write it? 2 weeks.

But if you only have 20 minutes to write this paper, how long is it going to take you to write it.? 20 minutes. 

It expands or shrinks to the amount of time you have.

When you set your quitting time, it shrinks the amount of time you have to screw around and you become more productive.

#2 If you need to work extra hours on a certain project, having a set quitting time forces you to consider starting your day early in order to finish on time. It’s often preferable to get “extra” work out of the way in the morning when the day is just getting going than at night when your overtime will cut into family activities or after-work leisure. 

#3 You’re more likely to Find Your Third Space

If you’re new to remote work, chances are that you love not having a commute. But one of the benefits of a commute is that it’s a transition between your work and personal life, during which you can let go of the stresses of the workday and get ready to transition to your non-work activities.

This third space acts as an essential bridge between work and home relaxation. It helps prepare you for the mental shift you need to go from employee to parent, spouse, partner, or friend, and enables you to show up in your personal life calm, present, and ready to roll.

When working from home, though, it’s easy to skip this transition entirely. After all, the walk from your home office to your living room likely isn’t going to cut it when it comes to clearing your mental palette. You can easily build in a third space transition to your day by:

  • Creating a commute. Take a daily after work mind-cleansing drive or walk to a park or your local coffee shop.
  • Working out. Going to the gym or for a run outside gives you an outlet for any pent-up stress and time to decompress.
  • Taking your dog for a walk. When you’ve been inside all day, your canine friend probably has been, too, and would appreciate the fresh air.
  • Practicing mindfulness. If physically leaving your house (and workspace) isn’t possible, simply taking a few minutes to meditate, do yoga, or otherwise quiet your mind can be a calming transition.

Whatever you choose, avoid throwing yourself immediately into household chores after your workday (unless they relax you). A peaceful, grounding activity at the end of your day will help you refocus your brain.

What’s your quitting time? Who needs to know? What can you do to enforce it?

Grab your free guide:

The Habit of Self-Doubt:
Crush it and Build Real Confidence