Self-doubt and changing my mind too often

Book Journey

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Hey friends,

This week, I spent quite a lot of time on Zoom chatting to a bunch of people familiar with the book-writing world. It’s been both reassuring and alarming.

It’s reassuring because it’s just nice to know that there’s a pool of experts where I can get feedback and share my concerns. I feel super lucky to have met these generous people who are so ready to jump on a call and offer me solid advice that keeps me typing away.

But it’s also been alarming because I often get conflicting advice about how to shape the book. I’ve had some conversations that made me wonder “hm... should I change the premise of my book?” Tbh, I didn’t expect to have these existential questions at this stage of the writing process...

✍️ What we worked on this week

The good news is that the existential crises are now solved, but it made me wonder whether I’m too fickle with ideas. This happens quite often to me: wake up thinking that Idea X is gamechanging and revolutionary; have lunch with someone who challenges Idea X; go home doing a 180 on Idea X.

Relatedly, this week, we worked on how doubt (a lack of certainty/conviction) can be a source of procrastination. The idea is that a lot of the times, what holds us back from getting something done isn’t how difficult that task is. Rather, it’s our doubts about whether we can do it that holds us back.

🧠 The most interesting thing we learned

As part of our research, we revisited Adam Grant’s book “Originals”. In his Ted talk on the habits of original thinkers, Adam says that there are 2 kinds of doubt:

  • Self-doubt: This is what happens when you doubt your ability to do something. It might sound something like “I’m not creative enough to write a book” or “I’m not fit enough to train for a marathon.”
  • Idea-doubt: This is what happens when you doubt an idea (and, crucially, not your ability). It might sound something like “Hm… this idea for the book isn’t great right now” or “I’m not sure training for a marathon is a good idea because of my bad knees, maybe I’ll train for a swimming competition instead.”

You can probably guess what kind of doubt is more damaging. As Adam says in his talk:

I discovered that there are two different kinds of doubt, self-doubt and idea-doubt. Self-doubt is paralyzing, it leaves you to freeze. But idea doubt is energizing. It motivates you to test, experiment, to refine.”

❓Question of the week

We’d love to get your thoughts on self-doubt and whether it’s gotten in the way of you doing things you want to do. If you’re up for sharing a story that might feature in the book, please reply here. We’ll be asking you questions like:

Has self-doubt ever gotten in the way of you doing something you really wanted to do?When you experience doubt, what are the main reasons for this?Do you have any techniques to deal with self-doubt?

As usual, the form will ask you for your name and email (optional) so that we can give you credit for the story, or potentially reach out to you to ask for more details 🙂

📢 Answers from last week’s questions

Thanks to all of you who took part in our survey on anxiety where we asked you about your experiences of anxiety and whether you have any tips and strategies to deal with it. We read through all your responses!

Thanks to Adam for sharing how a subtle mindset shift can be helpful:

I remind myself that this is a physiological response that is designed to heighten my sense… By focusing on the narration in my head and changing the narrative “hey this is helping you think better, even if it feels very uncomfortable” it helps numb that overwhelming feeling.

Thanks to Kaloyan for showing how awareness of breath can be a tool to get away from your mind:

Breathing can help — just awareness of breathing, realizing that I am here, and not wherever my thoughts make it seem like I am.

And thanks to Liah for sharing how channeling anxiety into creative projects (e.g. growing your YouTube channel, planning videos) can be a way to release that anxiety

With increasing levels of stress, I turn to my creative projects and start putting in a ton of time and focus into them. It helps block out the thoughts of the cause of my stress, and allows that energy to flow in a different, but still productive and non-wasteful direction. It’s really like “stress/anxious energy” are channeled to where I point them.

That’s it from me for now. Have a great week!

Ali xx


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