Self-doubt is a prison you must escape.
“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will,” wrote Suzy Kassem. I can't agree more.
Here are some questions I get most often.
- What should I write about?
- How can I travel the world?
- What should I study?
- What can I teach?
- How do I know people will care about my work?
- Why would anyone buy from me?
- What should I do with my life?
Here are four beliefs to help you navigate through down times and moments of self-doubt.
- No one knows what they are doing.
- No one cares as much as you think they do.
- You don’t have to have all the answers.
- Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
1. No One Knows What They Are Doing
No matter how many degrees you have, how many books you read, how successful you become, you won’t know what you are doing. You’ll have doubts, you’ll feel lost, you’ll question everything and will never know everything.
Everything you do is your best guess on how it will turn out. From successful CEOs to celebrities to average families, everyone is just betting on life with their best guesses. It’s easy to follow one or the other philosophy, religion, a way of life but there is no one answer. Anyone and everyone is free to choose how they want to live their life.
We, humans, tend to seek advice and guidance from people more accomplished than us, more recognized, more successful, more credible. We do this to avoid taking the full ownership of our own life expecting that other people know better how to live. Everyone is just trying to figure it out. So do you and I. It is very little that you know about life and a whole universe of things you don’t know that you don’t know. The more you study your field, the more you understand its vastness. One of the smartest people in history, Albert Einstein, said: “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.”
You understand that you understand nothing when you get to see how big everything is. It’s simply impossible to know what you’re doing in every aspect of your life. How to raise kids, how to learn, eat, sleep, exercise, build a business, invest, cook, have great relationships and the list goes on.
I trust Jim Carrey and this is what he said, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it's not the answer.”
2. No One Cares as Much as You Think They Do
Recently I wrote about seeking approval and validation. It’s a never-ending loop of human nature. We are animals seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. We want to survive and leave a legacy. Sadly, our brain and thinking couldn’t keep up with the agricultural, industrial and information revolutions that allow us to live in comfort without having to worry about survival and life threats as our ancestors did. However, you can’t just tell your brain to stop worrying and start living. Every rejection, every intention to put yourself and your work out there is a potential threat to be rejected.
We are self-centered beings and see things from our own perspective. When you fail at a job no one really cares as much as you think they do. Everyone has their own problems and worries. They care about themselves. Some people may care about your work, life, failure, success but not for as long as you imagine.
People move on faster than you think. Think about the latest failure that you cared about that wasn’t yours. You moved on and forgot it. You didn’t care much.
The best way to see yourself that no one cares as much as you think they do is to create and share your work. Compose a song, shoot a video, write an article and publish it. See what happens. I promise that people won’t care as much as you think. The world will still be turning. It was turning before you and will be still turning long after you.
It’s sad but it’s liberating at the same time. Once you realize that you are not obliged to create the best work every time and once you realize that you care about what others think of you more than they do, you will finally be able to do your best work because you’ll do it for yourself.
3. You Don’t Have to Have All the Answers
No one has all the answers. Smartest scientists in the world admitted that they don’t know everything. People considered geniuses admitted many times before that they don’t have all the answers. They might know a lot in their field but they don’t know everything.
It’s alright to not know everything. If I had to explain the technology behind WiFi and microwave to someone who never heard of it, I couldn’t, but that doesn’t stop me from using these inventions every day.
What I know for sure is that your life is limited and it’s ending. Tomorrow is not promised and your life can end at any moment. You won’t get a new life. Make this one count.
In the words of theoretical physicist and Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman:
Fall in love with some activity, and do it! Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn't matter. Explore the world. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough. Work as hard and as much as you want to on the things you like to do the best. Don't think about what you want to be, but what you want to do. Keep up some kind of a minimum with other things so that society doesn't stop you from doing anything at all.
Embrace the uncertainty and accept that it’s alright to not know everything. Admitting that you don’t have all the answers allows you to make mistakes. It allows you to trust yourself.
It allows you to be a human.
4. Do What You Can, with What You Have, Where You Are
At any moment in your life, you can choose to be reactive or proactive. You can choose to own the moment or be owned. You can choose to be the main character or you can choose to be a spectator and see your life pass by.
You have a choice to do your best with what you have, where you are right now.
Don’t obsess about the future, think about making great choices in the next five minutes.
What you have right now and where you are right now is a sum of your decisions. Your health is a sum of your diet and exercise choices. Every choice you made in the past leads to where you are now. If you’re broke and unhappy it’s because you made poor choices that got you here.
Here’s something I believe to be the secret to life. You can reset your life and own it starting right now. Make better choices, let yourself feel uncomfortable, make hard decisions in the next five minutes and see where it gets you. See your life changing. Keep focusing on the next five minutes and making best decisions you can and observe how it leads you to a different path.
I believe that at any moment in life you are where you have to be. The best teachers I had in my life were empty pockets, empty belly and broken-heart. When you completely hit the bottom there’s nowhere to go but up. You face the truth. You have a choice. To stay where you are and make same mistakes and easy choices that lead to same outcomes or you can choose to make hard choices that lead to the life you want.
I believe life can be designed and it’s your responsibility to make it a journey of a lifetime.
You have to trust yourself. Steve Jobs once said, “You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
I hope these beliefs I use to design my life will help you make better decisions and inspire you to make harder choices so you can have an easier life.
You owe it to yourself and to the world.