Launching a new project can be REALLY hard. Putting a lot of time and energy into anything can be exhausting. When it is something that you haven’t done before and don’t know how to do, it can also bring up a lot of emotions and limiting beliefs.
Some of you know that I just finished the first official launch of my group coaching business.
To be clear, this isn’t my first time coaching. I’ve led groups in the past and I’ve done 1:1 coaching as well. As part of my work in HR, I’m an expert in facilitation and adult learning. When I started this, I was confident that I would create a transformational experience for my small group coaching clients.
Regardless, this was my first official launch of “Fioneers Coaching.” I had less experience with the marketing aspects of a launch, and I wanted to be successful.
I’ve always heard from entrepreneurs that the launch of any product is a roller coaster of emotions.
Now, I get it.
I’m so grateful to have had a community to support and cheer me on throughout my launch. I worked with an awesome coach, and I have a good friend who is also starting her own coaching business. It was great to have encouragement from both an expert and a peer.
From both of them, I kept hearing that what I was feeling was TOTALLY normal and got advice on how to work through it. This is why I believe now more than ever that we need to build up a supportive community. They sometimes believe in you more than you believe in yourself.
I’m happy to say that my launch was successful. I’ll be starting my spring 2020 Cohort of Design A Life You Love within the next few weeks.
Not only did I have a successful outcome, but I learned so many things through the process that I will carry forward with me in my life. Most importantly, I overcame many limiting beliefs that could have held me back and didn’t.
At first, I hesitated to share this on the blog. Part of me wanted all you to think that I was 100% confident in what I was doing. I didn’t want to lift the hood and show that I also get plagued by fears and doubts. I thought you’d think less of me.
A few days ago, I mentioned my own fears and limiting beliefs to one of my new coaching clients who said, “Wow. It makes me feel so much better to realize that you experience this too.”
Then, I knew I needed to share it on the blog. If my story can help people believe in themselves, build their confidence, and feel like they aren’t alone, I have to share it.
So, here I am, lifting the hood and giving you a glimpse of my own imposter syndrome and limiting beliefs over the last several months.
7 Limiting Beliefs Every Entrepreneur Must Overcome
Looking back, I realize that I experienced many of these limiting beliefs when I launched this blog. Because of this, I believe that most would apply to any project you might embark on.
I hope you learn something from my experience that helps you move forward on your own projects.
Limiting Belief #1: I should be able to figure all of this out by myself.
I’ve always been a self-sufficient person. I read, research, talk to people, create a plan, and move forward. However, my usual process isn’t without going down rabbit holes or agonizing about how to move forward.
I really truly believe that people can learn the vast majority of things on their own, and that is what I usually do.
But, after I realized that I was agonizing over every small detail (how much to charge, how often to email, what to say, etc.), I decided it would be worth it to hire a coach. I found the process extremely illuminating. Rather than needing to do things 100% by trial and error, I was able to get advice and coaching that helped me to be able to move forward with more confidence.
One thing that I realized from this is that there are certain places where there are “best practices” that you can learn from others.
However, there are also many places where you just decide what you want to do. Most times, whether you decide one thing or something slightly different, it will probably not make a difference. Hearing that from an expert gave me the confidence to move forward in a way that felt “true” to me. I didn’t need to agonize about whether I should be doing something else.
Limiting Belief #2: I should know that something will be successful before trying it.
In some areas of my life, I struggle to have a “growth mindset.” Having a growth mindset means that you “believe that your abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work.” People with a growth mindset relish challenges as opportunities for growth and learning.
This is in contrast to a “fixed mindset”. Having a fixed mindset means that you “believe that your basic qualities like intelligence or talent are simply fixed traits.” People with a fixed mindset tend to shy away from challenges because it will “expose” their weaknesses. Sometimes, people with a fixed mindset will consciously (or unconsciously) not do their best work, so they have an excuse for failure.
Most people who don’t actively cultivate a growth mindset have a fixed mindset. While I’ve worked to build a growth mindset, I can sometimes backslide.
When choosing which project I wanted to work on next, I had a really hard time choosing to focus on the lifestyle design group coaching. My other idea was to create a course focused on salary negotiation. I knew I would enjoy the lifestyle design coaching a lot more. But, I thought the salary negotiation course was more likely to be “successful.”
I finally took the leap to do the project I was more excited about without knowing in advance if it would be successful.
It can be hard to put time and effort into something without knowing if it would be successful, but I knew that I’d enjoy the learning process either way. Ultimately, I decided to go for it.
There was a moment during the launch where I began to doubt myself. I lost the confidence that I would be successful. For a moment, it was tempting to not give my best efforts toward the launch. I realized that I was falling into the trap of not doing my best work, so I’d have an excuse or failure.
Luckily, I realized that I was thinking about this and corrected course. I wanted to be successful, so I was going to put in my best efforts. If I failed, I’d adapt.
Limiting Belief #3: I need to know everything to be able to help someone.
Sometimes we think that we need to know everything before we are able to provide any insights. What if someone asks a question and I don’t know the answer?
I think this is something that can plague women more often than men. For example, I have a friend who wants to create a free program to help others build financial literacy. In exchange, the participants will commit to giving a certain percentage of their savings to charity. What a cool idea!
I met this friend at my Choose FI local group. She’s about 6 months from quitting her full-time job to live a semi-retired lifestyle. All that to say, she’s figured out her money.
We got together a few months ago to discuss her idea. She asked if I thought she needed to go back to school to get a certification before being able to do this.
I’m not saying that credentials aren’t helpful, but they are often not necessary. My friend does not need to get certification to teach something she’s already good at for free.
I could have decided that I needed life coaching certification and spent thousands of dollars on it. Instead, I decided that my own transformative experience with lifestyle design, all the research that I’ve done, and my expertise in facilitation and adult learning (from my day job) were enough.
It’s also important to remember that every single person will always be learning and growing. If someone asks a question and I don’t know the answer to it, I can research it or provide them with ideas on how they can go about finding the answer.
Limiting Belief #4: I have so much privilege, so I should just offer my services for free.
After offering content through my blog for free, it was hard for me to take a leap and charge for my expertise. I have such a wonderful life and so much privilege, would it be better for me to just offer my services for free? I don’t need the money, and I thought free meant that it would have a greater impact.
The coach that I worked with dispelled this myth for me. She actually shared that it’s actually a result of my privilege that I’d want to offer it for free. Yet, if I did offer it for free, I’d be taking away someone else’s opportunity to declare that they want to make a big change in their lives.
We’ve all done the free (or very low-cost) course, and our commitment fizzled after a couple of lessons.
My coach explained to me that an investment of money is actually a level of commitment. If you give someone the opportunity to pay, they are declaring that they want to make a big change in their life. I don’t want my feelings of privilege to not allow people to make a commitment to change their lives.
I will continue to offer content for free on the blog. This will help people who want to take a DIY approach and those who cannot make a monetary commitment. This doesn’t mean that I should offer all my services for free.
Limiting Belief #5: I need to feel totally confident before moving forward.
Whenever you try something new, there are unanticipated challenges. Most times, these are challenges that you could not have predicted ahead of time.
In the early part of my launch, I was not feeling very confident in my “sales” process. In the first few days after I launched my program, I had about 8 people reach out. We had great discussions, but I hadn’t gotten any of them to “yes.”
I started to feel down about this. I felt like I should have anticipated this challenge. I wanted to be good at something that I was completely new to.
I worked with my coach to figure out what the challenge was. We determined that I wasn’t doing enough to help people see the value of the program throughout the conversation. When we got to the end of the conversation, people would hear the cost and weren’t totally convinced that it was worth it.
At first, I was down on myself for not anticipating this.
Then, I realized that it’s okay to be a beginner. This was my first time running a big launch and actually charging what the program was worth. Of course, I wasn’t going to be perfect at it the first time.
What I realized from this is that we can’t wait to feel confident before we take action. In reality, it’s the other way around. We need to take action, repeatedly, and the confidence follows. If we wait until we feel confident we will never actually go anywhere.
There were so many things that I learned throughout the launch process that I would never have identified without taking action.
Limiting Belief #6: I have to convince people to say “Yes” to me.
I am not particularly comfortable with marketing myself and selling products. Part of this comes from the experience of my first “real” job. I was a street canvasser for a charity in New York City right after the 2008 recession (because I couldn’t find a job).
As a street canvasser, I had to sign-up three people every day (15 people every week) to give monthly to a charity. Before the age of iPhones and iPads, I had to convince people to hand over their credit card to a complete stranger and let me take a rubbing of it with a crayon. I’m not even kidding.
I spent 95% of my day every day hearing “no” from people and feeling the pressure to try to convince them to say “yes.” Pretty soon, it felt like it was less about the mission of the charity and more about me succeeding and keeping my job. I needed to get 3 people to say “yes” to me every day.
When I decided to put my own program out there for people to consider, some of these feelings flooded back. I felt like I was trying to convince them to say “yes” to me.
I needed to shift my perspective. I have a transformational program that I know can make an impact on people’s lives. I’m also not asking people to take a crazy risk like handing me their credit card on the street.
I finally realized that because I stand by the quality of my program, people are not saying “yes” or “no” to me. They are choosing to say “yes” or “no” to themselves. I know my program can help people. People are only deciding if this is the right time for them to invest in themselves.
I never need to feel like I’m convincing someone to say “yes” to me and go against their own self-interest. I only ever want people to feel like they are saying “yes” to themselves by making this commitment.
Limiting Belief #7: If I’m not successful by my arbitrary deadline, I will need to give up and completely switch gears.
It’s often helpful to set timelines and deadlines. It pushes us forward and helps us to feel a higher level of urgency about our work. In mid-March, I created a timeline where I’d open up my program in Mid-April and close enrollment by early-May.
I knew that this timeline was pushing the bounds of what was possible, but I wanted a sense of urgency to move the work forward. About a week after opening the program, I started to feel overwhelmed by the amount of work. I was also pushing to do another workshop a few days later.
I knew I needed to take a little bit of time to relax and recharge, but I was feeling like I needed to meet my deadline. After talking with my coach, she reminded me that the deadline was arbitrary.
I could choose to do my next workshop a few days later and extend the deadline by a few days to give people time to sign-up afterward. That’s exactly what I did. I extended my timeline by two days. Guess what? Either nobody noticed or nobody cared, and I got to take time to relax and recharge before the second big push.
The other limiting belief here is that if I wasn’t successful by my arbitrary deadline that I’d need to completely shift gears. There were moments where I considered making huge shifts to the program because I was worried that I wouldn’t be successful by the deadline.
Ultimately, I realized that in the grand scheme of things that the deadline wasn’t important. If I wasn’t successful by my arbitrary deadline, I wouldn’t need to immediately admit defeat and go another direction. I could figure out what I needed to adjust and adapt. In reality, I figured out a lot of those things along the way.
How to Overcome Your Limiting Beliefs
We all have limiting beliefs that arise when we are working toward something we actually want. Earlier this year, I participated in Kerry Ann Rockquemore’s Annual Clarity Retreat. After we set your goals for the year, one thing she had us do was to write down 50 limiting beliefs.
We didn’t have to solve them at the moment; we just needed to write them down. This was enormously helpful in being able to identify something as a limiting belief. So, I’d encourage you to try out this activity.
Once you identify the limiting beliefs, you can figure out how to overcome them. There are three tactics that you can take to overcome limiting beliefs.
1. Turn it into an Empowering Belief
To do this, you look at the limiting belief and figure out how to shift it into an empowering belief.
“I should be able to figure this all out by myself” can turn into “No one can do everything by themselves. It’s okay to ask for help.”
“I shouldn’t do something unless I know it will be successful” turns into “I can’t know in advance that something will be successful. I can listen to guidance, work hard, and adjust if something might work better.”
“I should offer all my services for free” can turn into “If I charge for my services, it allows people to commit to making a significant life change.”
2. Articulate what has been True in the Past
Sometimes, you can look at limiting beliefs and know they aren’t true because of the experiences you or others have had in the past.
I know that I don’t need to know everything to be able to help someone because I’ve helped plenty of people with what I already know.
I also haven’t known if everything I’ve done will be successful before trying it, and many times I am successful.
When thinking about offering services for free, I can take the advice of other coaches. Many have shared that when they tried to coach people for free, they had to chase people down because they didn’t seem committed.
There are many times in my life that I didn’t feel confident moving forward, and I took action anyway. This helped me build confidence.
3. Reflect on what you’d do if the thing you feared actually happened
Sometimes, things feel scarier when you aren’t sure how you’d handle something. Thinking through the “realistic worst-case scenario” is often helpful for me.
For example, I was scared that I wouldn’t be successful. So, it was helpful to think about the specifics. What would it look like to not be successful? What would the impact of not being successful be for me? How would I respond?
After working through this, I realized that the fear wasn’t that big. If I wasn’t successful, there would be little impact financially. I don’t need the money, and it didn’t cost very much to launch the business. My ego might get a little bruised, but I’d come out on the other side having learned a lot. I’d also have my ideas about what I wanted to do differently next time. The worst thing that could happen is that I’d learn while doing something I enjoy anyway.
Once I go through this exercise, I usually realize that the grip that fear has on me is lessened.
Don’t Let Limiting Beliefs Hold You Back From Launching Your New Project
As you read this, you might be thinking about the project that you want to launch. Maybe it’s a blog, a new business, a new project at work, or a fun personal project.
If you are procrastinating for any reason, I’d encourage you to sit down and write down 50 limiting beliefs that are holding you back. Go through them one at a time. Transform them into an empowering belief, articulate what is actually true, or reflect on what you’d do if the scary thing actually happened.
Then, find a community. Find someone who will understand your hopes and your struggles and discuss this with them. We all need support on our journey!
This was such a great post. Thanks for opening up and being so honest. It was really great to see you dispel those common limiting beliefs!! I wish you the best of luck with your new launch!
Thank you so much for your support!
Thank you for sharing this. Very powerful and challenging. This line in particular really struck me, ” I know my program can help people. People are only deciding if this is the right time for them to invest in themselves.”. That is really empowering.
Thank you for your comment. I truly hope that “lifting the hood” will help more people empower themselves to do scary, challenging things! 🙂
Great post, I see these misconceptions all the time. More often, as you point out, in women, and gay men (like myself). Sometimes you have to just move past your self doubts and take the plunge!
This is so true. We definitely need to figure out how to move past these doubts. I don’t think it works to just ignore them though. We need to address them head-on!
This is such a powerful post! Yay for a successful launch and so much growth. I love that you are sharing all these lessons along the way.
I’m finding that while the limiting belief still pop up at the same rhythm, as time goes on and I get more into the “action” side of entrepreneurship, my sense of noticing the beliefs is getting sharper. By being able to notice them faster, like before my mind believes them too much, it gets easier to develop the ability of work through them as I move ahead with my business.
Excited to continue seeing you grow on this new endeavor!
That’s such a powerful insight – being able to notice them earlier allows you to work through them before they feel overwhelming! I love it.
Ah, your limiting beliefs #2 and #3 made me feel seen. *squirms uncomfortably.* I have been guilty of shying away from some challenges and opportunities for growth, for fear of weaknesses being exposed and having others see I haven’t got it all figured out yet. But duh, we’re all at different stages and no one’s watching us as closely as we might think – the “spotlight effect”. Thanks for your raw honesty here and some strategies to tackle these blocks.
Thank you for inspiring me to write the post. I think we all do this, but people just don’t talk about it, making us all feel alone. You know me – trying to break the stigma around mental health – why not try to break the stigma around limiting beliefs too? 😉