This is a guest contribution from Dr Alice Boyes.
Blogging is a world of infinite opportunity, but sometimes what’s holding you back is you. Check out these common problems and some suggested solutions to help you kick it up to the next level.
1. Imposter syndrome.
Imposter syndrome is when, despite your accomplishments, you still feel like a fraud.
As a consequence, you might: avoid networking with people who objectively are at or slightly above your level, avoid reaching for certain opportunities, and avoid pitching yourself. You might imagine other people thinking “Who does s/he think she is?” if you were to approach them.
When you don’t see yourself as a successful, professional blogger you’re less likely to act that way. For example, you may find you’re not regularly stepping up to larger and larger opportunities as your blogging career progresses. Therefore, imposter syndrome can sometimes become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- Evaluate the objective evidence of your accomplishments.
- Remind yourself that even if you feel like an imposter, it’s just a thought and having a thought doesn’t make it true. Even if the thought doesn’t go away, if you recognize it as just a thought, you can remove any negative impact.
- Give yourself self-compassion for how you feel.
- Ask yourself what you’d be doing differently with your blogging if you didn’t have a sense of imposter syndrome, and do that.
2. Avoidance coping
Avoidance coping is when you avoid doing the things that objectively should be your highest priority. For example, you avoid writing a pitch to speak at an important industry conference, even though you see it as your best, current opportunity to make a big break through.
Avoidance is usually driven by anxiety, and/or feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of doing something for the first time. You might notice yourself keeping busy doing lower priority tasks but avoiding the tasks you feel intimidated by that could really help you level up with your blogging career.
- Be mindful of when you’re doing less important tasks too often (e.g., checking stats) and put some limits in place for how often you do these tasks. You can use apps like Stayfocusd to help you.
- Keep your to-do list simple. Make a point to clearly identify what your number #1 task is so that you have no excuses for not getting it done.
- Keep a balance between working on everyday tasks like pumping out new articles, and the the types of tasks that could dramatically advance your blogging career.
3. All-or-nothing thinking
An example of all or nothing thinking might be that you think you need to create witty, Pinterest quote-pics for every single one of your 500 past blog posts. A more achievable option might be that you do this for 10 of your most popular posts.
Sometimes we fail to see decent, middle ground options and get overwhelmed by the “perfect” but unacheivable option.
- If you feel overwhelmed by something you know you “should” be doing, then scale the task back to the point it doesn’t feel overwhelming. Choose only the part of the task that you think will give you the highest ROI.
4. Running your willpower tank to empty
With blogging, there are a virtually unlimited amount of things you *could* be doing to enhance your success. In reality, it’s impossible to do all of these things. If you find yourself trying to do too much, you’re likely to get caught in the trap of not seeing the big picture and therefore focussing on the wrong things. For example, you’ve committed to blogging everyday and it’s so time consuming that you don’t step back to analyze whether that frequency is actually the most effective.
- Take micro-breaks throughout the day. Part of the allure of being a blogger is being able to take 5 minutes to sit outside in the sun, anytime you want. Use that opportunity!
- Take some longer breaks away from the computer e.g., an overnight trip away. Physically getting out of your home environment will help you interrupt your pattern of being constantly attached to your computer, and help you step back and refresh your perspective.
5. Unwillingness to tolerate knock backs
No matter how well prepared you are, or what great pitch emails you write, there will be times when people say “No” to you, give you critical feedback, or flat out don’t respond.
You don’t need to turn yourself into a robot who is insensitive to these things, but you do need to be willing to tolerate the resulting uncomfortable feelings. You might find yourself ruminating (overthinking) about criticism you receive or mentally rehashing what you could have done differently. If you are prone to rumination, then learn some strategies for dealing with it (my book has a whole chapter full of them).
- Expect a 50% success rate rather than a 100% success rate. If your success rate when you try new things is much higher than 50%, you’re probably aiming too low.
- Accept your sensitivity rather than fighting against it. Allowing yourself to experience your natural reactions and using simple strategies like quick mindfulness meditations, helps negative feelings pass quickly.
For many more practical tips like these, check out my book (and the endorsement from Chris Guillebeau).
What are your best tips for dealing with those times when you are holding yourself back from doing things you know you should?
Dr Alice Boyes is author of The Anxiety Toolkit: Strategies for fine-tuning your mind and moving past your stuck points (Perigee), emotions expert for Women’s Health magazine (AU), and a popular blogger for PsychologyToday.com. You can get the first chapter of her book for free by subscribing to her blog updates here.