Here’s a question for you: what things would you choose to do if you knew for certain that you couldn’t fail? Would you run a marathon? Start a charity?
Make a documentary? Learn Stairway to Heaven on the panpipes?
It’s a useful one to ponder, as taking fear of failure out of the equation can help us work out what our goals should be and what we want our daily lives to look like. It can also help us hone in on the things that are holding us back, and come up with some good ways to overcome them.
Somewhere near the top of the “things that hold people back” list has to be self doubt. It’s something most of us struggle with to one degree or another: whether it’s lacking the confidence to try a new thing, beating ourselves up when something doesn’t go entirely to plan, or overthinking things rather than trusting our gut and just going for it.
But don’t fret, as there are ways to conquer this. Confidence is something you build by doing stuff – it’s like a muscle. So why not just decide to say “yes” a bit more often in life? Much of the time, when you start acting, you stop thinking, and that can be a fabulous way to quiet the doubting mind.
Whether it’s procrastination, eating junk food or staying up too late watching YouTube videos of breakdancing cats, bad habits are often a major barrier both to creativity and productivity. But simply quitting a bad habit and hoping for the best doesn’t always work, because all habits, good and bad, fulfil some sort of need within us.
The best way to deal with a bad habit is to work out what need it is addressing and then to address that need in a more positive way. Here’s an example: if you feel that you’re hooked on social media and are constantly checking your phone, investigate the reason why this might be. If it’s because you’re craving human connection, try to meet this need in another way, perhaps by organising more get-togethers with your friends or by joining a local interest group (Panpipers Anonymous, anyone?). Doing this before attempting to cut down on screen time should mean you’re more likely to succeed. You can read more about how to build good habits here.
Modern life is full of distractions, and avoiding them can be seriously tough. But there are things we can do to improve our chances of staying focused on the job in hand. Keep getting sidetracked by incoming app notifications or emails? Turn off your notifications. Find that during a long task your mind keeps wandering to thoughts of your next holiday, or haircut, or sandwich? Try breaking it down and doing shorter, concentrated bursts with a five-minute rest between each one. If you tend to procrastinate by tackling the smaller, easier jobs before the chewy stuff that needs to be done ASAP (sound familiar?), try making a list of the stuff you need to do, in priority order, and when you find yourself losing focus, switch to the next most important thing on the list. Then when you feel your productivity waining again, move back to the original task.
If you’re not feeling tip top, it can be very hard to get cracking on the to-do list. So it’s really important to look into what may be causing you to feel sub par.
Studies over the past few years have linked a whole host of problems – low mood, fatigue, skin issues, bloating… even difficulty concentrating – to gut health. And it’s now thought that improving the health of your gut could help with these conditions, boosting your mood, energy, concentration and overall immunity. Genius, really.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to feed the friendly critters in your gut (the good bacteria) and starve the not-so-friendly ones (the bad bacteria) by making some simple changes to your diet (you can find out all about that here). Want to unlock your potential? Why not start here?
So if you could banish self doubt, bad habits and distractions, and improve your mood, energy and overall health, what would you do? What would you do if nothing could stop you?