No matter how positive and convinced we are, sometimes, doubt creeps in. Doubt can deteriorate into guilt or a loss of confidence. Left unattended, doubt can become a downward spiral into the inability to act, crippling our plans, confusing our minds.

Here is how successful people I've met overcome doubt and get back on track.

1) Have a systematic way to determine when there is doubt.
“Do I have any hesitation to proceed full speed and confidently?” If yes, reconsider before beginning or continuing.

2) When doubt is obvious, write down your concerns.
Don't just do this as a mental exercise. Keep asking and keep writing until you develop a sense of clarity.

3) What you can describe, you can conquer.
Once you've written the causes of your doubt, begin to think of solutions for these reasons. What are options, alternate courses of action? Do you need to rethink your position? List the answers; develop a proactive approach to implementing them.

4) Realize that you can manage doubt.
If you wait until you are 100% certain, you will never act. Strive for a balance between the level of uncertainty, the level of risk, and the cost of failure.

5) Make mid-course corrections frequently.
Reinforce your good decisions. Reduce the impact of your bad ones. Think and act, don't succumb to the "paralysis of analysis."

6) Get help when you can't figure out a situation by yourself. There are experts in every field. Find them and use them appropriately.

7) Get to work.
Do something. Act in some positive way. We all fail. It is difficult or impossible to succeed without failing. Learn from the failures and continue on an improved course toward success.

When doubt assails you, do what other successful people do. Look at it directly. Determine its causes. Resolve them and get back to enjoying a life of increasing success.

Copyright 2000 Timothy J. O'Brien. The Institute for Stress Management,

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Author's Bio: 

Tim O'Brien is director of The Institute for Stress Management
( and a syndicated columnist for the Knight-Ridder Tribune News Service. visit for practical, result producing ways to gain more control in your life. Free ebooks, posters, newsletters, and other stress managment resources.