Do you ask your boss or colleagues for approval too often? Do you seek the answers from your co-workers, no matter how many times you’ve done the same task? Is the urge to ask for help all too strong?
Perhaps you are a little self-critical or skeptical. Perhaps a little lazy.
Or maybe you’re encumbered by what I call excessive doubt.
While I am still learning to completely overcome self-criticism, I can say this:
“It’s imperative that, every now and again, we drop by to check in with ourselves.”
Have you asked yourself how much you value your own opinion lately? How much you trust your own capability to complete tasks successfully? How independent you really are when making important decisions at work?
It’s not always easy to think on our feet because we fear making the wrong decisions and being condemned for them, when all we intend is a good outcome. Sometimes a decision should not be made quickly. But sometimes it should.
“Unfortunately that sense that you’re not quite sure can leave you living in permanent limbo, never taking that final decisive step … Psychologists have found that people who doubt themselves too much end up engaging in excessive information processing which leads to procrastination and self-handicapping.” – Dr. Jeremy Dean
Self doubt stems from different places. Perhaps yours is from an absolute obsession with being perfect. Maybe it arises from some desperate need for approval. According to this site, lack of self-confidence can even be considered a form of laziness. Whether or not that is true in your case can only be decided by you.
If I am totally honest here, it makes me feel really stupid to ask someone a question that, deep down, I already know the answer to. The key is within me!
If you don’t trust yourself and show confidence in your actions, it will be hard for others to trust you. Relying on others can make us seem weak. Insecurity is obvious.
The How To
Here are a few questions I compiled to help myself trust what I have learned:
- What steps did I take the last time? (Asking this reminds me that there is a process, and that I can follow it again. Our memory of the process acts as a “guide” for similar situations in the future.)
- Do I have a process guide? If not, I need one. If yes, can I find the answer there? (Have I made sure that I looked over everything and weighed all my options? Is there a possibility I missed something? This reassures me of that I am equipped to go ahead, or if I don’t have what I need to continue, I can discuss these needs my manager.)
- If I’ve settled on a particular decision, what has convinced me that it’s the right decision and what makes me think it could be wrong? (By asking this, I confirm to myself that I know what I am doing. With these questions you build confidence to avoid procrastination. By asking myself why I think I could be wrong, I can clear up any misconceptions or worries in my head before turning to my manager.)
- What does my gut say? (I can talk about the nuances of intuition all day. If all else fails, go with your gut. Sometimes our past experiences aren’t immediately available to our conscious mind, but we still have a vague sense of how things should go. This is what ultimately pushes us in a particular direction.)
When you reflect on some of your most troubling dilemmas, these questions may seem a little… futile, if you will. But they really help. Why? Because asking yourself questions and then allowing yourself to answer them builds self-trust, as it positively confirms what you already know and allows you to trust your next decision.
Even if–after reflection–you still end up asking for help, at least you were thorough in exploring your own knowledge base.
“…find the answer on your own”
To be brutally honest, sometimes it is just easier if your boss or colleague gives you the answer, right? Less work for you. Less thinking on your part. It’s just all too convenient.
Wrong! We should all aim to really try our best to avoid this at all costs. It’s just not cool. Putting your responsibility to think on someone else is poor form and downright lazy. However, if you’re truly struggling to keep up, it’s all right to ask for help, and you should consider discussing the problem with your manager.
Here are a few questions I compiled to help avoid laziness when confronting difficult questions:
With this set of questions, you need to be 100% honest with yourself. Do not beat around the bush.
- Do I have the resources to find what I am looking for? (Simple. Yes or no?)
- If I have what I need, what is it really going to cost me to just quickly think for myself? (Ask yourself this to clearly determine your real constraints. If you admit there are none, then you are simply being lazy.)
- If I do not have the resources, why is that? (Can you obtain them on your own before asking for help? If you are able to do this, then there is no need to involve anyone else. Sort yourself out.)
- Is it really worth it to waste someone else’s time when I know I am fully capable? (Why would you want to ask someone else, if you could very possibly do an even better job? What will the next person think of you when they know that you are just as capable as they are of arriving at an acceptable conclusion? Asking others to think for you and do stuff for you is not good for one’s self esteem.)
Harsh, right? Yeah, that’s the point.
You have to know you have what it takes to handle life’s curve balls. You can handle this on your own. Otherwise you wouldn’t be where you are now. Someone trusted you to be there. Now you have to prove them right.
Allow yourself a deep breath of fresh air and remember what you learned, the decisions you made, and the work you completed successfully even with its ups and downs. Remember that nothing comes without a hiccup or 10. Life is full of hiccups, but that shouldn’t scare you away from trusting yourself in the process.
It’s not as hard to make important decisions, because we’ve done it before and we just know that it has to be done again.
Sticking to what you have learned over and over again and know to be true is a lot more empowering than leaving things unattended, and waiting for someone else to show you the way.
If you think about it, isn’t that in itself enough to build up your self-confidence and self-trust?
You are the only one who can pave the way to more self-confidence. One decision at a time.