At one time or another, we’ve all heard the saying, “you are your own worst enemy” – and that can feel especially true when it comes to feeling confident when learning a new skill and starting something new. We all know too well that familiar voice in our head that asks am I really good enough to do this, can I really be successful, will this be worth the risk? The voice that likes to stop us in our tracks, the voice that likes to keep us small. So, what do we do with this voice? How do we give it space, and recognize the tools it can give us, without letting it take over and leave us feeling totally paralyzed in our creative pursuits?
When I was starting out as a photographer, confidence was one of the biggest hurdles I came up against time and time again. I was constantly plagued with comparison and self doubt. It wasn’t just in the early days when I was learning to shoot in manual mode that I struggled with confidence; it’s been something I’ve spent the majority of my career building.
So trust me when I say I really do get it: Confidence, and finding your courage, when pursuing your dreams is one of the most important and elusive pieces of the success puzzle. And because I truly believe that finding your confidence and your stride when learning something new is the first step to success, I wanted to share with you the 5 things that have helped me get through my toughest moments.
1. Everyone starts out as a beginner.
It may sound obvious, but it’s one of the most important things you can remind yourself of when you start feeling frustrated, stuck, or worried – and you WILL feel all these things. And that’s totally okay because it means you’re doing something right!
The frustrated, stuck feeling is a natural and essential part of learning something new, and each time you push past those feelings you get one step closer to where you want to be. It’s not always going to be easy, so reminding yourself that you are not alone, and that everyone has to start at the beginning – just like you! – will help you find the confidence to push forward.
2. Don’t let excuses hold you back.
Now, let’s face it: we’re all super good at coming up with excuses. Whether it’s saying yes to a new project or finally building your website, there is always a reason not to do something. But, guess what? There is always a better reason TO do something.
“I don’t have time today,” “I don’t have the right tools,” “I don’t know how to do that.” Make time! Use the tools that you have! Find a way to learn that new skill! It’s time to put yourself first. Making up excuses is the best way to keep yourself from growing into the talented and ambitious person that I know you are. And the more excuses you make the less confident you’ll feel. So, next time you hear an excuse whispering up in the back of your head, tell it you’re just too busy SLAYING to listen.
3. Don’t be afraid to hit your breaking point.
It might sound scary, but talk to any successful creative person and they’ll tell you the same thing: growth lives just beyond your breaking point. The whole point of trying something new is to grow in the process, but that also means you have to outgrow what you are comfortable with in the process.
Push your limits, take your ideas to the edge, and then push a little further. A breaking point isn’t about breaking down, it’s about shedding the limitations you thought that you had to discover that you are capable of so much more. Hitting your breaking point is what will help you rise up to your next creative challenge.
4. Failure isn’t just normal – it’s essential.
Sometimes when you’re starting something new, the apparent limitlessness of it can feel overwhelming. So instead of being worried about which direction is the best one to take, or which project or idea is the best fit, try them all! Listen to your heart. Choose one option and don’t be afraid of whether it will work out or not. Because each time something doesn’t quite work out, and each time that you feel like you’ve failed, you’ve actually just gotten yourself one step closer to the project that will work and the direction that you’re supposed to take.
Failure is absolutely scary, but it’s the best way to help us make sure that we are on the right path, and helps us continue learning more about ourselves and growing our craft in the process. So seriously, fail away! I’ve failed a thousand times. But always remember to pick yourself back up.
5. It’s never, ever too late to start.
Maybe you’re just starting out, or maybe you’re ten years into a project, and you suddenly have an ah-ha moment: you want to try something totally, completely new. Guess what? You can.
The most important thing we can do to support our growth in whatever project or career we’re pursuing is to be flexible. Give yourself permission to pivot. Change your mind. Try a new method or direction. Everyone is on a different path to success, so trust your process. And when you have a realization about what you want to be doing, do it. The very best time to start is right this very moment, because either way time will continue to pass and opportunities will continue to present themselves. So be ready, and keep pushing forward. After-all, the present moment is all we ever have!
Above all else, though, remember that learning is all part of the journey. And whatever path you’re on, and whatever obstacles you find yourself coming up against, have trust and confidence in yourself that you can push past them. Because I promise, we’ve all been there, and will continue to experience these hurdles time and time again. Confidence isn’t something you attain over night – it is a skill in itself, a muscle that must be stretched and built up day after day. So whatever you do, don’t let doubt and fear keep you from learning and trying new things, because each time you do, you grow one step closer to your dreams.
I believe in you!