By Carolyn Campbell, MA, CPPC

I feel incredibly fortunate to be at the forefront of change, working with a diverse spectrum of leaders, business owners and career shifters who are breaking through old paradigms to create new ways of being in the world. While there is crisis in our world, there are equally powerful forces for positive change. When we dare to actualize our dreams, the impact ripples to unimagined places.

Living your dream is not for the faint of heart, however. It’s so easy for ingrained belief systems, personal and communal, to come out with gun-slinging fury, terrorizing our heart into submission and clouding our dreams with shadows of doubt. As the pressure for success, acceptance, and accomplishment bear down, your mind can begin to throw all sorts of doubts your way.

Some of the questions that I’ve heard surfacing are:

  • “Can I build my practice without succumbing to the selling tactics everyone is pushing?”
  • “Is it really okay to say I want more, when so many people are struggling?”
  • “Fun and work were never words that went together in my family…can I really do that?”
  • “My rates are higher than others; do I lower them to stay competitive?”

These questions are quite common and normal. The challenge is that they come up at the most inopportune moments: when you’re about to call back a potential client, write a grant, or craft a speech to present to a conference. In times of uncertainty, your best friend is often your gut, your intuition, your sixth sense. I have found with my clients that the courage to move forward comes when they couple their intuition with a clear sense of their strengths and challenges.

To overcome the nay-saying of the mind, we need only to remind ourselves of the firm foundation upon which our dreams are based. Here are some ways to deal with the doubts and connect more effectively from the strength of your conviction:

1. As soon as the critic creeps in, STOP. Take a time out.
Even when the deadline is looming—especially when the deadline is looming—it’s important not to let the nagging thoughts get under your skin. Once they catch hold, they will wreak havoc with your clarity and confidence. Before they start to control you, take a moment to re-ground yourself and reinvest in your purpose.

2. Name your strengths.
To put your focus back on succeeding, take time to name your unique strengths. Remember specific times when you succeeded because of these strengths, however small the successes might seem. (You might find it helpful to write them down.)

Examples:

~~~ During a meeting, I interrupted the flow and spoke with candor. It felt like we were off track and I wanted to solidify a point of few. Afterwards the staff thanked me for so effectively spotlighting the issue.

~~~ When the new clients came to see me, my intuition said, just listen. After booking their next session, they both commented on how comforting it was to be held in such a gentle yet powerful way.

~~~ When I felt it was appropriate to talk about fees, I said to my potential client, “Would this be a good time to talk about the budget?” She said, “That’s great. I was just thinking that myself.”

The more ways you can identify how your intuition effectively supported your strengths, the more confident you will be using it again and again.

3. Name your challenges.
Knowing your challenges minimizes the opportunities for your mind to sabotage your actions. When we slide into the land of doubt, our challenges seem to rear up and take full focus. By identifying your challenges, you can create systems to focus on your strengths and enhance the trust in your intuition.

Some might be:

~~~ Speaking: When I don’t have a clear outline, I can go off topic and lose people. (Knowing this, you can take time to make an outline. Remember, others might know that speaking from an outline keeps them too rigid. This is where it’s so important to trust your gut and name what you need!)

~~~ Interviewing: I can easily drift off track when I tell a story about myself. By writing down the question, I can keep reminding myself of the point of the story.

~~~ Fundraising: When I call for donor support, I feel like I’m intruding on their life and I freeze. When I ask them, “Is this a good time?” before I start the conversation, I am more at ease and attuned to what they are saying.

Why is this so important? When you take full advantage of your strengths and account for your challenges, you become far more effective with significantly less effort (and uncertainty). When you cultivate ease and confidence in your life, trusting your intuition comes naturally.

4. Refocus your attention.
As you take a fresh look at your grant, your meeting, or your introduction, ask yourself, “Can I engage more fully from my strengths? How might I more respectfully honor my challenges so that I can lead from my best, most authentic and powerful self?”

As you trust your intuition more and connect from your strengths, you might be amazed by how much easier your work becomes. Or perhaps you’ll wake up to the realization that you’ve been living or working in a way that dishonors who you really are inside. As I mentioned in the beginning, living in your power takes courage and conviction, faith and purpose. When you honor those, get ready…life will take on a whole new meaning.

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Carolyn Campbell has more than 30 years’ experience working with non-profit and for-profit businesses. In creative and connecting ways, Carolyn melds her expertise in community outreach, education and business development to help clients expand their reach and increase their impact…using their unique approach to life. Her areas of specialty include leadership, visioning, outreach and community building.