We carry memories of our past experiences around with us like baggage. If we’re lucky, some of these memories bring us joy or laughter. But more often than not, we carry memories of negative, hurtful experiences.
New research suggests that humiliation is the strongest human emotion. Can you remember the last time you felt embarrassed? I certainly can. But carrying around negative emotions, especially those that accompany bad experiences, has a profound impact on how we act in the present.
Whether we realize that’s what we’re doing or not, this baggage can prevent us from moving forward in our personal and professional lives. It’s hard work to consciously try to rid ourselves of the emotions and sentiments that don’t serve us, but it’s worth the effort.
These are the four things entrepreneurs should try to rid themselves of:
1. Self-doubt is like the flu: At some point, we’re all going to have to endure it. Unfortunately, many of us experience self-doubt from a very early age. I’m not tall enough. I’m not good-looking enough. Maybe you were picked last in gym class. Maybe you weren’t. It doesn’t really matter. Even the most self-confident people are plagued by bouts of self-doubt. Just the other week, the cover story of The Atlantic discussed that even the most powerful, successful women feel like they’re inadequate -- and maybe even imposters.
Self-doubt rears its ugly head in particular when we try new things. Maybe you think you’re not smart enough to break out on your own. Maybe you feel like you don’t have the right skills. It helps to acknowledge self-doubt for what it is. Call it out. Recognize it. Don’t be afraid of it. Once you acknowledge that’s what you’re feeling, it has less power over you. Self-doubt is just a feeling: You can still act even if you feel it. Ask for help. Better still, consciously try to abandon memories that made you feel less than. They’re holding you back from doing your best.
2. What’s “appropriate” for your age. Your state of mind is so much more important than your biological age. I firmly believe there’s no such thing as being “too old” or “too young” when it comes to being an entrepreneur. Don’t let memories of others judging you for your age hold you back. Those people are just projecting their own insecurities. Be inspired by people for whom age is nothing but a number -- because really, that’s all it is.
3. Your fear of the unknown. In my experience, situations never turn out quite like I spent time thinking they might. We carry around fear of the unknown so tightly. It doesn’t make much sense to me. How can we be afraid of what we do not know? Many people spend so much time trying to predict or control the future that they don’t do anything at all. What are you waiting for? We don’t have control over what happens, but we do have control over our emotions. Choose to be brave and feel good. Have the courage to take the first step. It’s just one!
4. Your accomplishments. I see it all the time. Yes, you did that! But you can’t stop now. Entrepreneurship is not for those who want to rest on their laurels. You will achieve so much more if you greet every day like the new day that it is. No one cares about what you did. They want to see and know what you’re capable of now. What did you achieve today? What opportunities did you seek out? Live in the present. Even carrying around the memories of your accomplishments can prevent you from moving forward if you hold on to them too tightly.