How to not feel like a loser in business & set attainable goals instead. Click through to read and download a free goal-setting worksheet.

Look, I know it’s hard out there. Good grief do I ever. The fact is, something like 80% of businesses fail. That’s some pretty harsh statistics, especially if you are currently feeling less than successful in your particular pursuit. But you know, that’s kind of part of the deal with entrepreneurship, you sign up to carrying around that heavy cape of uncertainty. Of constant self-doubt and time spent battling with obstacles.

But there’s something in you that, despite realising you’re handing over your sense of safety, makes you feel like this is the life for you. Deep down you know you have something to give. And you have that yearning. Yearning for freedom, of following your purpose, of living an artistic life.

Unfortunately, knowing that this life is for you doesn’t safeguard you from self-doubt. It doesn’t mean there won’t be times when you feel you’ve wasted time going in the wrong direction with the wrong idea. Times when your support system disappears due to change in external circumstances. Times when you’re just about to make a great breakthrough, but you run out of money, or time.

There might come a time when it feels hopeless. When you feel like you’re not cut out for this. When you wonder whether you have the skills or the knowledge or the stamina. I get that. I so get all that. The thing is, for some universal reason, the good stuff is generally always just around the most desperate corner. And only those who keep going even when it feels so tempting to give up and retreat to safety, are the ones who reap the rewards.

So, even if you’re feeling like the biggest loser right now. Like you're banging your head against the wall trying figure out that missing piece. Before you surrender your dream, see if the following might help you through this time.

1. Remember why you started your journey

Did you dream of a financially secure future, artistic freedom or being able to help others? Do you still want the same things? Is the only thing that’s changed the fact that you don’t at the moment believe that you have the chops that it takes? But remember, you are still the same person. You still have that same ability in you. Perhaps this pain is something you have to go through in order to push through around that corner beyond which success lies.

2. Consume less information

This is definitely something I myself suffer from. I love learning, but sometimes, especially in this day and age when information is so readily available everywhere, you can definitely go overboard and end up overwhelming yourself with more knowledge than you could, or should, ever implement. Consuming too much information can either paralyse you, as you can’t quite decide what advice to follow, or you might develop a dangerous habit of planning without ever getting around to executing. Slim your information consumption down.

Find the voices that resonate most strongly with you, and commit to following through on what you learn.

Find the voices that resonate most strongly with you, and commit to following through on what you learn.

3. Don’t let the thought of success make you feel uncomfortable

I can see you scratching your head at this statement. Surely success is what we’re all chasing, whatever that success looks like to each of us. But I just want to throw this thought out there, because, perhaps somewhere underneath it all, the thought of success makes you feel kind of… anxious. Maybe it’s not even so much the success, but the responsibility and the impact that comes with it.

What you do will affect other people, and the more people you get to serve, the chances are you might end up disappointing some, or angering others. The only way not to have an impact on people is to never teach or sell anything to anyone. So perhaps, even though you are dreaming the dream, you are also dreading the influence.

You’ll have to get brave. In order to be in for a chance to positively affect the lives of others, you must be ready to take the risk of disappointing someone else. Stop playing it safe, and concentrate on the things you have to give, and the rewards you and your clients get to reap.

5. Be careful of impulse decisions

This is a tough one, especially for us creatives. Creative work often depends on that impulse, or what we call inspiration. It can hit like a bolt of lighting and it will get you working relentlessly through the night until you’ve gotten what you need to create out on paper, on film or arranged in musical notes, whatever your medium might be. But living a life where you learn to surrender to inspiration can sometimes backfire when it comes to your business.

Because we teach ourselves to take that leap at times when we feel the strongest, if those feelings happen to be of the negative variety, such as anger, anxiousness or disappointment, there’s a danger of making bad impulsive business decisions. I’d urge you to always honour your feelings, especially when it comes to artistic inspiration BUT when you are making decisions about the direction of your business, let that feeling pass through you fully and then write down an actual plan based on it. If the plan still makes sense to you once the feeling has surpassed, start implementing. But you might notice that had you acted on impulsive at the height of your emotion you might have made decisions about your business that would not have served you well.

4. What if you don’t reach your dream

There is a possibility that your big goal is unrealistic (although I do think we have the ability to forge our way towards anything if we want it enough), or that the time is not right. But what I don’t want you to do is to give up because you’re afraid of failing. Or because you worry about people judging you for not being successful in the way that suits their idea of success. If you do keep going, even when you feel like a loser right now, you will be a winner in my eyes no matter whether you reach your big goal or not. The things you learn on your journey, the person you grow into being, will be so much more worthwhile than deciding to throw in the towel out of fear of failure.

5. Are you invested enough

It’s much more easy, and tempting, to walk away when you haven’t fully invested in something. Whether that be a course you get for free and never finish, an offer of help you never claim, or indeed a business you haven’t put your everything into. If you’ve played it safe, emulating what others are doing and not fully put your heart and soul on the line, it will be so much easier to walk away from your dream. And perhaps it was never fully your dream to begin with in that case.

If you are serious about making it happen, you should feel like you’ve devoted so much time, energy, heart, soul and even money into an endeavour that it would be a super hard decision to call it quits. If quitting seems an easy thing to do, you were never 100% behind what you were trying to accomplish. But if you feel like you’ve put so much into it, that it would be properly painful to walk away, does it really make sense to give up just because you’re going through a wobble in self-confidence?

Do this instead of letting self-doubt overwhelm you

Make sure to set attainable goals

This is often the main reason why you start feeling lost along the way. I believe in always having that big life goal in mind, something that you work towards even if you sometimes take more convoluted routes towards it (if you subscribe to the Inspire Your Inbox letters you would have seen my post about this last Sunday). But you also need smaller, realistic and measurable goals, which preferably have deadlines. Those are the goals that make you take the next step, and then the next, and the next… And those are the ones that at least I personally often fail to set properly. Whenever I feel like I’ve started to drift into entrepreneurial overwhelm, I check whether I need to write some more actionable goals down to get me back on track.

The process should look like this.

1. Write down your big scary goal, that overall dream you’re working towards
2. Write down 5-9 goals you want to reach in the 12 months, making sure they align with your big goal
3. Break those goals down into actions
4. Depending on what order makes sense, write the goals down in your planner. No more than one goal per month.
5. Fill the weeks and days prior to your goal completion date with the actions
6. Start each day with completing at least one action item, before you tackle the never-ending flow of running tasks and admin work.

Set actionable goals - free worksheetFREE DOWNLOAD

I made a worksheet to help you with setting actionable goals. Have fun!

As an Inspire Your Inbox subscriber, you can download this worksheet from The Library.

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Author: Marianne Taylor

Her Lovely Heart founder Marianne Taylor is a photographer, an educator, and a lover of colour & light. Her work has been published in blogs and magazines the world over and her personal photography has been part of an exhibition at Tate Britain. To work with Marianne, see the mentoring services she offers. Or, if you like the photography on HLH, you might want to check out her Product & Lifestyle photography services to see whether you could work together to help your brand grow. She is also slightly obsessed with her two cats, Astrid & Sofia, and loves Instagram.

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5 thoughts on “How to not feel like a loser in business

  1. I love this! It can often feel really scary when you don’t know exactly where you’re going or how you’re going to get there, but remembering why you’re doing it in the first place is a great way to feed motivation and push yourself forwards. Thanks for this inspiring post!

    Posted on November 9, 2015 at 7:52 am
    1. Totally. It’s so easy to lose perspective on your own progress when we’re surrounded by so many (loud) success stories, combined with the fact that the road usually looks the foggiest just before you turn the corner which makes all the difference. I’m glad you like this post! x

      Posted on November 12, 2015 at 5:52 pm
  2. Wow Marianne, you nailed so many of the same feelings I’ve been experiencing. I’m reading this saying yes, yes, yes. I love posts like this because it’s great to know you are not the only one :) Thank you so much for sharing!

    Posted on December 4, 2015 at 11:10 pm
  3. Awesome post Marianne!! I especially resonated with number 2 and 4. I’ve definitely over consumed information and need to start focusing on executing. I need to start making things my own. I’ve also realized recently, and this post re-affirmed it, that I’m letting fear get in the way. I keep telling myself I need to learn more but the reality is I’m scared to fail because I want it so bad. If I don’t start I can’t fail right? Wrong. If I don’t take the leap then I’ve already failed :) Thanks for the encouragement and I will definitely be sharing.

    Posted on December 9, 2015 at 5:26 pm
    1. That’s so true, if you don’t even try you’ll never know if you can do it. I don’t really believe in failing or succeeding in the traditional/dramatic sense, just in always trying to aim for the kind of life that would be most fulfilling for you. Sometimes it’s easier, and sometimes it’s harder, but the thing that makes a difference how both of those feel is the amount of love and effort you put into the trying.

      Posted on December 10, 2015 at 2:09 pm