Opportunities and my new found ability to second-guess myself.
Recently, I have found myself in a situation where I have been second guessing my talents and skills. I’m not exactly sure why this has started. I still am doing well in school, and I still have the unruly desire to learn any and every thing there is to know about programming. But as I get closer and closer to finishing my studies, I have found that I have talked myself out of opportunities. On a few occasions, I have decided not to follow the white rabbit. This is opposite of my normal behavior and tendency to seize every opportunity and make something of them. So, what gives?
The well-known enemies of Opportunity…
Although there could be many reasons as to why someone fails to grab hold of an opportunity, I personally believe that there are a few core reasons for this behavior:
- Self doubts – When an opportunity arises, we get into our heads sometimes. The more unanswered questions we have, the more we may be likely to shy away from an opportunity.
- Lack of Confidence – For me, I am pursuing an entirely different career path than what I spent the majority of my adult life pursuing. So, naturally, there is a confidence deficit that, if left unchecked, can become a bigger issue.
- Fear – This is an obvious one. Fear of the unknown. What if the other people going after this opportunity are better? What if I fail? What if I’m not the candidate they are looking for? Fear manifests itself an many ways and it’s important be able to identify fear when it occurs.
- Anxiety – very close to fear, but is really an underlying general apprehension towards situations in general, although there may not be a specific threat. Varying levels of anxiety can keep a person from going after an opportunity.
Micro vs. Macro thinking…
Another issue that I’ve personally experienced, as well as, identified in my peers is the scope thoughts. There is an assumption of there not being enough. Therefore, by assuming there aren’t enough opportunities, people give up before even trying. For me, I’ve had to reevaluate my personal views on the value that I add to a situation. For years, I had a certain skill set that I knew that I could bring to the table. However, after changing careers, I never reevaluated the value that I can bring to a team. So, my self-perceived value went to 0 because my skill set (in my twisted way of thinking) was no longer applicable. Finally, I believe that people sometimes fail to see the big picture. Sometimes, we do not spend enough time day dreaming and thinking big. Not enough time is spent on researching the end goal and breaking the big goal into small, digestible parts. The big leap from now to the future that we seek can seem daunting if we don’t break it down into achievable pieces.
Ways to overcome our negative inner voices…
Ok, so Trinity tells you to follow the white rabbit… The next thing you know, there’s a knock at the door and BAM, there’s a white rabbit staring you in the eye. What do you do? Talk yourself out of the next adventure in your life? Convince yourself that you were seeing things and no one really warned you to follow that adorable white rabbit? Or, do you grab your jacket and follow the white rabbit? This answer isn’t as easy as making a decision, often times it takes a bit of preparation for our next big opportunity. Some tips that I personally practice are:
- Surround yourself with positive people — I can not stress this enough. Positive, like-minded people are always a great catalyst for being successful. There’s also the benefit of possibly having someone nudge you in the right direction. A friendly invitation to engage in a beneficial activity can go a long way. If you don’t have someone physically around you to be that positive influence, find a digital source. Maybe a group on social networking could be helpful, or contributing to a newsgroup, or contributing to an online project. Regardless of the method, it’s important to get out of our comfort zones and expanding our network.
- Celebrate your victories! — No matter how small the victory, sometimes we are our worst critics. We don’t take the time to congratulate ourselves on a job well done. Sometimes with the demand of work, we finish something then rush on to the next project. Take time to breathe, give yourself a high five for finishing a project on time, or for learning a new programming language. It all adds up, and the more positive thoughts you can create, the more self-confidence you will generate as well.
- Help someone else! — I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been reenergized about a personal project after helping someone else with a project that they were working on. There’s something about taking the time to help someone else that keeps us focused and gives us a small confidence boost. Also, there’s the added benefit of paying it forward, you never know when you will need help in the future.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes — Sometimes our negative inner voices scream our fear of making mistakes. But guess what, we aren’t perfect. Often times the best way to learn is to mess up first and learn from our mistakes. Also, don’t be afraid to learn from other’s mistakes. If you fear making mistakes, research others that have made the mistakes and learn from that!
Don’t let the next opportunity pass without tossing your name in the bucket!