When I first started growing my online business, I surrounded myself with a lot of great mentors. I learned a ton from these guys.
But therein lies the problem. They were guys.
In the late 1990s, the first people to jump on board and start creating things like infoproducts and membership sites were men. And they did it well.
I bought tickets to events all over the country, and spent many days in rooms filled to the brim with guys. Female entrepreneurs in this space were few and far between. We’d assemble together, our commonality simply being we were women trying to play in what was clearly a man’s world.
I loved that time of my life. I learned SOOOOO much. I also made a lot of good friends.
But I still remember staring blankly at some of the guys when they offered their advice. Things like:
“Some days, you’ll have to work 48, even 72 hours or more where you never see the light of day. You’ll spend days in your office, pounding on the keyboard just trying to get everything done.”
“But what about your kids? What about family?” I always asked questions around work/life balance. They’d look at me strangely, and say something like: “My wife takes care of that.”
Guys do it differently. They don’t think twice about dedicating the time it takes to get business done.
But as a woman, I’m not willing to compromise one for the other. I knew early on that I only had one shot at enjoying my daughter as she grew. And I wasn’t willing to walk away for days for the sake of growing a business. I wanted both.
So even in those days where I was happy, trying to set the world on fire, the negative self-talk began. The questions hit me, depending on what I was doing.
I should be working … I should be spending time with my daughter.
This is working! … I really messed up.
I’m going to make this succeed … I’m going to go bankrupt.
I can do this … Who do you think you are? I’m not smart enough to pull this off.
It’s always been a vicious cycle as I moved through starting and growing my businesses. Even today, I still have that negative self-talk creep in from time to time.
Because no matter how much success I have behind me, every day presents new challenges. And it’s easy to fall back to old patterns, even when I’ve acknowledged them and tried to wean them out of my life years before.
Have you ever said: I’m so stupid!
Yep, that’s the negative self-talk kicking in.
There’s also this little thing call imposter syndrome.
As women, we’re bad at it. Studies have shown that when both men and women hear of new job opportunities, they equally are excited about them. But women are more selective when it comes to applying for a position, are more conscious about ensuring they tick every qualification box on the job sheet, and are less likely to make it through the interview process.
We feel guilty about not being able to do a job fully if we put our hands in the air and say we can do it. So we hold back until we have every box checked imaginable.
And lose out on a lot of opportunities in the process.
That happens as business owners too. Why push yourself forward and look like a fool if you can’t do everything needed of you?
So you end up saying “no” a lot more than you say “yes.”
How do you overcome negative self-talk?
Here’s what I’ve been doing for years.
Track your wins
When I first started out in business, I was a sticky note queen. I used sticky notes for everything. I’d write down ideas, and when I completed them, I’d throw them away.
Then I discovered a better way. Buy a journal instead. It doesn’t have to be an expensive planner from the store; many of mine are simple spiral notebooks you can get for a buck or less, especially before school starts.
Then write down everything … EVERYTHING.
Use one page for every day. Date it at the top of the page.
Then I write down all of my ideas. I write down websites I want to visit and explore. I write down conversations I have with people on the phone. I create my daily to-do lists. I write thoughts I have for new products or services, or directions I might want to move towards in the future.
In most cases, one page is all you’ll need each day. Sometimes you won’t even use up that page. And if you’re having a really productive day, expand it as much as you need. Use two or more pages to write down all of your ideas.
Never scratch through to-do’s when you complete them. Instead, check them off. Write down how you completed them. Take notes on your next steps.
Then as you flip through the pages, you’ll see all you accomplished throughout your year. Trust me, this works. I’m often amazed when I go back several years and see everything I have in my life today. It was all written down back then in some format, waiting for me to take action with.
It’s a great way to get rid of your self-doubt. You can see your accomplishments staring back at you from the pages.
Get rid of perfection
Women have this innate desire to create “perfection” all around them.
I was bad at it. I’m the type of person that has everything in place. If someone moves my stapler from my desk, for instance, I know it instantly if it’s not put back in the right place.
We, as women, do that with everything we do. Why let anyone else help you? Only you can make dinner in the right manner. Only you can take care of the kids with your unique fingerprint. Only you can clean the house the right way. Only you can bake the right cookies for the bake sale. Until you’re so completely worn out, you can barely function.
Yep, I’ve been there too. I remember driving to a retreat I’d signed up for to help me restore work/life balance in my life. I cryed all the way there because I felt so overwhelmed.
Perfection will never get anyone anywhere.
I read a book way back in my early days of being an entrepreneur called Ready, Fire, Aim by Michael Masterson. The premise is to get anything you’re doing up to about 70 percent complete, release it to the world, and then take the time to refocus and make it better. Get it ready. Fire it out into the world. And refine the aim of it as you see how it does.
Ever since reading that book, I try and practice that everywhere in my life.
I prepare just enough to feel comfortable releasing things, whether it’s a new product for my business, or cleaning house for a party. Then I release it to the world. I refine as I go along. That might mean putting out another version of a product, with all of its corrections and modifications. Or it might mean finding easier ways to keep my house clean, things that will make the next party that much easier to throw.
Self-growth is never a bad thing if you’re learning all the time. And when you see yourself making new strides, it’s even easier to put that negative self-talk at bay.
Listen to your internal voice
Where do your biggest problems come from? Chances are, it’s from the things you really didn’t want to do in the first place.
How many times have you said “yes” to something simple – can you bake cookies for the bake sale? And before you know it, you’re in charge of the entire event!
If I had a dime for every time that’s happened to me …
This comes from this little thing inside us that tells us to be a “good girl. ” “We can always rely on you,” they say.
Just … STOP!
Stop being that person.
It doesn’t mean you’re no longer reliable. What it does mean is that you’re going to be more selective about the things you want to be held accountable for.
If your gut tells you to say no, say NO!
Because the biggest problems always come from the events you wanted to say no to, but held back and said yes to uphold your “good girl” image.
Self-care … always
I remember when I first started building my business. In my mind, I had to meet certain income criteria, or lose everything.
So I worked. And worked. And worked.
I rose early and got an hour in before I woke my daughter up to get her to school. I multitasked all day long to see how much I could get done. I’d pick her up and bring the office with me, working in the car as she moved through afterschool activities. Then after she went to bed, I’d work some more. I tried to survive on four hours of sleep.
It didn’t work well. I eventually crashed.
I eventually learned the value of self-care. Now I have routines that I refuse to break.
I have a set schedule. I never work more than 40 hours per week.
I rise for me-time. I meditate. I journal. A little yoga.
I write for a few hours. Then take a walk, just for me. NO PHONE!
I end my day somewhere around three. And once I close my computer, I’m done for the day. Only in emergencies do I pick it up again for work.
I digitally detox on the weekend. I may read a book on my iPad, or use my iPhone for texting. But I never use them for work.
I remove my digital devices completely when I go away on vacation.
And outside interests … you bet!
The one thing I do always say “yes” to is the chance at a new experience.
Stop the negative self talk once and for all!
The road to being a female entrepreneur is always going to have its ups and downs. And that’s on top of living life as a woman! With so many different demands on your time, this only compounds the problem.
But it doesn’t have to.
Recognize right now, negative self-talk isn’t your friend. Anywhere in your life. But especially as you’re starting up your new business, and are ready to change the world doing only what you do best.
Give these four things a try.
And let me know what things you do to shut down that self-talk, and be the person you’re meant to be!