I take one last look in the mirror before a head out the door for a day full of back to back meetings and the anticipation that today will be full of decisions to be made by me.

As a woman, self-image is something we all navigate on a daily basis. It ranges from a bad hair day, to the belly roll that pops over our jeans, to the blemishes on our face, and then don’t get me started on the thoughts of a saggy butt. I think every woman has that one flaw that seems to glare at them every day just a little more than the rest.

I want to go deeper than just our negative thoughts and ideas as it relates to our image…let’s talk self doubt. The words that we sometimes say to ourselves (especially me) are more than just what we see in the mirror.  It’s the thoughts we have that we can’t do something, are not worthy of achieving more, or not talented or smart enough to become what we aspire to be — when we ask ourselves, “Who am I to (insert anything we dream about doing)?”

Why is it that no matter what we accomplish or the things we journey through we still don’t think we can do the next big thing? We still don’t think we are capable of living out something so grand for ourselves. 

Today marks my next big thing. While it happens to be my 36th birthday (August 14th), today is much more than a celebration of the day I was born. It is now the day that I am able to live out a lifelong dream of being an author. Over the past year and half I have worked on pushing myself to be more than just the woman who founded a nonprofit for those with disabilities. I wanted more. 

I love connecting with people and building relationships that are centered on purpose. I love people and I love being an inspiration to others, through my vulnerability and relatable journeys. For me, the way to fulfill that desire of connection and inspiration was through sharing my personal experience of growing up with a brother with a disability and the emotions associated with that journey.

[For those interested in checking out my book, you can find it here.]

I have read countless best-seller books for female empowerment and self-development. You know the books that when you’re reading them (or in my case I listening to them on audible.com) you feel as if you can tackle the world. It’s that feeling and my most recent mantra of “just do the damn thing,” that gave me the final nudge to sit down and write my own story.

[Side note: Some of my favorite books recently are “Fear is My Homeboy,” by Judi Holler, “Untamed,” by Glennnon Dyle, and “Girl on Fire,” by Cara Leyba.]

Despite reading book after book that encourages all women to chase their dreams, become the most authentic version of self, and allow your fears to fuel your drive to accomplish your every desire — I still suffer from self-doubt. I find myself referencing my notes and re-reading my favorite chapters, because from often that self-doubt is overwhelming. Although I have been able to create my own nonprofit that has grown to over a $2.4 million operating budget to support over 160 individuals with disabilities, while leading over 60 employees, and finding myself in conversations that refer to me as an expert in my field….I STILL have to tackle my self-doubt head-on within each goal I have moving forward — most recently, my self-published book. 

Here are some tips I have learned along the way (a lot from all those female empowerment books I read all the time) on how to keep the self-doubt away:

Don’t Fake Confidence:  I am very open and transparent with others of my self-doubt and the thoughts in my head. I feel this vulnerability allows me to hear how the thoughts I have in my head are insane.  You can be a strong woman achieving your dreams, but still doubt yourself along the way.  I am real about it, but still keep going.  

Know Your Next Move:  Sometimes when you are busy dreaming, creating your vision boards, and knowing what you want to achieve, you’re missing the most important ingredient to achieving it:  the action steps to making it happen. This is a game changer for me.  When self-doubt creeps in (and it does), I just stay focused on my next action to execute. I can swim in self-doubt, as long as it doesn’t carry me backwards and my actions continue to progress forward.  Focusing on action steps and my to-do lists is the perfect distraction of not getting lost in my thoughts that I can’t do it.  

Create a Dreamers’ Circle: You have probably heard time and time again that who you are around tends to become who you are.  I am very fortunate to have people in my life who are achievers, dreamers, visionaries, entrepreneurs, and working to being the best versions of themselves.  We go to lunch, have a coffee date, talk on the phone, and (my favorite) we text throughout the day.  All these things are the fuel needed to keep going and believing in yourself.  Find these people and be intentional.  There are so many people out who are wanting the same things. Find them and connect.  Be each other’s encouragement to achieve more.

Do The Thing & Own It: Through all the self-doubt and second guessing, still find the way to just do the thing. Don’t wait until you’re ready. Don’t wait until you figure it all out. Don’t wait until you have more time. Just do the thing! Little or big, it doesn’t matter. The timing is perfect if you can smile and go after it. If you wait until it’s polished, or safe, or when you feel like you’re an expert then it will be too late OR will never come at all. And when you do the thing, own it and recognize it. I am not saying you have to shout it from the rooftops and demand for everyone to take notice. You need to own it within yourself. You need to be able to be proud of your own damn self with no guilt, and allow that to build your confidence to do more. Give yourself permission to say, “I did the damn thing, and I am proud of myself!” Man, this is a lot harder than I make it sound! This is my biggest struggle, as I typically discredit my own work OR devalue what I accomplished. But I am going to take my own advice and start to recognize the journey I am building, but with grace! 

While I hope that those reading this blog take away something, even the smallest nugget of advice, I’m going to be real with you… this blog post was for me. With the release of my book today, I am in a cycle of self-doubt. Who am I to be writing a book? Who wants to hear from me? Why do I think my experience could help others? 

But here I am, taking the next action step and writing this blog. You can do this. I can do this. Press on and just do the damn thing. Oh, and in the meantime, maybe add my new book to your reading collection.  

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