Is Self-Belief Essential At The Start?

When I decided to start my own business in 2009 I didn’t have any real belief that it would succeed. I started anyway, basically because I didn’t want to look back in 30 years and regret never having a go.

So here’s my premise: you don’t have to believe in yourself when you start something new.

Scale showing safety and retreat vs Growth and potential. Self-belief: think or act?
Is Self-belief Essential at the Start?

You just have to take action, and self-belief will follow.

I often talk to my clients too about holding belief for them until they’ve built some for themselves. It’s perfectly possible to outsource your belief at the start…and often a very good idea.

Other people who are supportive will see positive things in you that you ignore or deny.

I’m not a true entrepreneur, and security has always been important to me. Yet I went out on a limb – against my nature – in many ways fuelled by panic that I’d look back (if I were lucky enough to live a long life) and bitterly regret that I’d always taken the safe path.

I also acted because I wanted to express myself differently in the world and work with different people.

But to be honest: looking back on it, the panicked fear of future regret was the stronger driver!

There’s so much out there about the need for self-belief to achieve anything worthwhile in life. And in many ways that’s true.

But you can definitely start something new without it.

Lack of belief is often the number one thing that stops people from beginning something. Beliefs can be deeply ingrained – and they can take a very long time to change with just thoughts alone.

The beauty of taking action is it gives your brain new evidence to override your old belief.

Changing our behaviour will usually change how we think and feel about ourselves a lot more easily than sitting around waiting for our thoughts or feelings to change first.

And the danger with waiting…? Those unhelpful thoughts may never change!

And it’s worth segmenting the ‘area’ of your belief – for example:

  • You may not believe you can be great at public speaking – but you can believe in your willingness to commit once you have made the decision to work on the process
  • You may not believe that you can have greater influence in your workplace – but you can believe that other people successfully achieve this, so the evidence is there that it’s possible. Maybe it’s possible for you too

I have high-achieving clients who still struggle with low confidence and self-belief. Yet to the outside world they seem to have it all. These people may not believe in themselves whenever they start a new project, or job…but they take the actions to move forwards anyway.

It’s about taking action – and also knowing that you’ll have setbacks, but that if you just get back up again and learn from them, you’ll get there. Then rinse and repeat!

A LinkedIn connection Meaghan commented on the topic with this example: “when I took up running a few months ago I had to just get out on those footpaths and shuffle away, without any thoughts of self-belief. That came later. Now I’ve knocked a minute off my average time per kilometre”.

So is self-belief essential at the start of trying something new? No it isn’t. Just keep shuffling and you’ll get where you want to be!

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