10 Self-Sabotaging Thoughts That Keep You From Building Your Online Empire

I know more about online business than 90% of people.

That sound incredibly arrogant and is 100% against my nature to say, or even think it, but (she says meekly) it’s probably true.

Last week my husband and I were playing a card game called ‘The Ultimate Game for Couples‘ over a few cold ones at the beach (in Thailand, where it was warm – currently typing this from a house sit in Sheffield, where it is distinctly not warm – I digress).

One of the questions I had to ask him was ‘what do I know more about than 90% of people‘. His answer without hesitation was ‘online business‘.

And, having made a decent amount of money over the years from online courses, email marketing, coaching, ecommerce, blogging, affiliate marketing and many other online business models, after considering his response for a while, I couldn’t find a reason to disagree, other than my own internal nagging self doubts over my abilities.

I think I know the main reason that as I’ve gotten older my confidence seems to be diminishing rather than emboldening. And I’m pretty sure (other than the menopause which sucks the life out of us girls), it’s to do with inaction.

I’ve stayed well within my travel comfort zones of late, in the safe haven of Thailand and the thought of backpacking across South America frightens me. When I do it however, my fear will fall away.

I’ve stayed well within my business comfort zones of late hiding behind a blog. Now I’m venturing back into the noisy world of social media, I’m nervous and unsure. Give me 3 months of consistent posting and discussion and these feelings will abate, making way for new found confidence.

That’s why my no matter which of the following 10 self sabotaging thoughts resonate with you, there is one single answer to resolve them all

1. I Don’t Know Where to Start

I know at my age the secret to health and longevity is to eat a clean diet, strength train and move more.

At 51, I’ve had a multitude of personal trainers over the years, read hundreds of diet books, read thousands of articles on nutrition and health and pretty much know what I need to do to be the best version of myself.

And yet…

I still look for ‘how to get started’ strength training routines online. I’m still asking inane questions, (these days on ChatGPT,) such as ‘best foods for max energy’, ‘best strength training routines for women over 50’ etc.

Deep down I know how to start, and if I don’t the answers are laid out in excruciating detail all around me.

Online business is exactly the same. There are a million YouTube videos, TikTok videos, podcast interviews, courses, and step by step examples.

You do know where to start. It’s just fear getting in the way.

The key is to just start!

2. There’s Too Much Choice, I Don’t Know What Niche to Choose

Ah this old chestnut. I’m still struggling with this myself!

Sure I’m clearly in the travel and online business niche, but I’m interested in so many things that there are at least 3 other niches that I would love to be pursuing right now.

It’s taking an inordinate amount of willpower to stop myself starting splinter businesses in these other niches, until I’ve grown and systemized my current business so it can work without me (or at least with less input). Once that happens I can pursue other things.

If you’re having difficulty choosing niches, there are three routes you can go;

  1. Start a brand as just you. You, yourself & I, simply exploring your curiosities – umpteen personal brands online are doing that these days – Sahil Bloom, Dan Koe, Jenna Kutcher (more recently an online business coach – but has explored multiple niches in her time). There are so many outlets for our curiosities these days you can afford to be more experimental.
  2. Pick one niche, put all your other interests in a little black book, grow it until it works without you, and pursue your next niche.
  3. Pick one niche as your business route, and pursue all your other interests as hobbies! As Marie Forleo says, ‘not every interest needs to be a business

No matter which route you choose the key is to pick one path and take action!

3. I Don’t Know What to Write/Say/Publish, Who’s Going to Listen to Me Anyway

Another of my own corkers.

To obliterate this particular limiting belief I’m attempting to write every day of the week (case in point this article).

However, even yesterday I found myself going down a rabbit hole of reading about Tim Denning writing routine, Kieran Drew’s formula for introductions, Nicolas Cole and Dickie Smith’s reasons we don’t start writing.

Rather than write, because I was suddenly gripped with fear, I ‘researched’.

However, the only route through this self sabotaging thought is to take action.

Write your post; record your podcast; make your video, in spite of your fears. There is no other way other than rigorous practice.

4. I Don’t Have Enough Experience, I Haven’t Made Enough Money, I Don’t Have Any Credibility

Otherwise known as ‘Imposter Syndrome’.

Join the club. We all have it. Very few people actually believe they are deserving of their success.

Justin Welsh ($7.5M creator) in a recent post said;

The key here is ‘high performing person’, in other words those that ‘take action’. If you’re in the arena with the rest of us, congrats! Embrace your imposter syndrome and keep moving forward in spite of it.

5. It’s Not Finished/Good Enough

An old mentor of mine used to say ‘get it done, then get it right’.

There’s magic in taking imperfect action.

It’s called momentum.

Momentum is far more important than perfection. Your work will get better the more you do.

The more feedback you get (by way of engagement, sales, collaborations etc), the more you can improve your messages, content and offers.

Forget about your work being amazing, instead focus on it being consistent.

Perfectionism is simply another form of….

6. I’ll Do It Tomorrow, I’m Not Ready Yet

Despite what you may think, procrastination isn’t always rooted in fear.

Sometimes it’s a sign that you’re moving in the wrong direction.

If you really don’t want to do what you’ve tasked yourself with doing, it’s a good idea to take a minute to identify whether it’s because you’re just being lazy, are fearful of the outcome (or lack of potential outcome), or whether there’s another reason.

  • Perhaps you’re doing it because everyone else is and so you think you should be too.
  • Perhaps you’re trying to prove a point to someone (or yourself) instead of chasing a passion.

Be bold and identify the root cause of your procrastination and address it head-on.

Then once you’ve determined what’s important to you, break tasks into smaller, manageable steps and set deadlines for yourself.

Sometimes momentum is all you need to get the ball rolling!

7. This New Idea is so Much Better, I Should Focus on That Instead

Otherwise known as ‘bright shiny object’ syndrome.

Personally I love a bright shiny object. Without it my husband and I may never have discovered Amazon and wouldn’t be where we are financially today.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being on the lookout for opportunities, however the trick is to recognize whether the opportunity is an extension of what you’re already doing and can help move the needle or whether you’re just running away from hard work.

If the BSO looks too good to be true, it usually is, and if it promises great results without any sacrifice, that’s also unlikely to be the solution you’re looking for.

Everything costs in the end, whether it’s time, money or pure hard graft.

And more often than not, all you need to achieve your goals is consistent action coupled with some patience.

8. I’m Not Cut Out for This, I Don’t Have What it Takes

An extension of imposter syndrome is a general lack of self confidence.

As I said at the start of this article, I know deep down I probably know more about online business than 90% of the population. It’s highly unlikely there’s a question about online business I don’t know the answer to. So I know I have what it takes regards my knowledge.

However, I have a million self doubts over my age, my weight, my writing abilities, my photography/videography skills (or lack thereof), my ability to engage people, or be interesting, or unique. You name it!

I could probably fill a page with my self doubts.

The answer here is to practice self-compassion, surround yourself with supportive people who believe in you, and take action anyway.

You’re more brilliant than you know!

9. I Can’t Seem to Stick to a Schedule, I’m Not Disciplined Enough

I’m terrible at routine!

Especially now we’re travelling in different apartments or hotel rooms, different time zones, planes, trains, buses. My lifestyle is definitely not conducive to a regular daily routine.

And yet one of the most important disciplines when building your online business is consistency.

The key is to pick your weekly non-negotiables and your most important PQO’s (a term coined by Brendan Burchard in his book – High Performance Habits).

I have two non-negotiables;

  1. Write and publish 3 blog posts every week, one in each of my three categories – make money, travel the world, live your best life.
  2. Send my weekly newsletter (which includes my 3 blog posts)

My PQO’s (Prolific Quality Outputs) are my daily articles. I don’t always manage to publish a post every single day, but I do my damndest to write one.

Other example PQO’s so you get the idea;

  • Amy Porterfield – Podcasts
  • Justin Welsh – LinkedIn Posts
  • Tim Denning – Medium Posts
  • Seth Godin – Blog Posts & Books
  • Apple – Yearly new iPhone releases

PQO’s are the things that you become known for doing consistently and prolifically.

Once you choose your non-negotiables and your PQO’s, as long as you get those jobs done every week, everything else is a bonus.

10. I Don’t Have Enough Time to Work on My Business

Years ago I did an awesome interview with a doctor-turned-author – Julie Coffey who said;

If you have passion, you have the time

Here’s the full podcast episode;

Seth Goden said it best with his recent blog post – After the emergency;

If we need to wait until after the short-term emergency is settled, it’s unlikely we’re ever going to get to work on the long-term important work.

Of course, we want to do “everything we can” when an emergency strikes. But the standard for that has always involved tradeoffs. Perhaps we should resist trading the important work for the urgent distraction of right now.

Final Thoughts

We all suffer self sabotaging thoughts daily, some hourly, some minute by minute.

There is only one solution, one ‘magic bullet’ if you will, and that’s action. If possible – consistent, focused, action. But the consistent and focused part can come later. The most important part is action.

Stop thinking, deliberating, talking, researching, learning.

Instead, in spite of yourself, start doing.

And if you want to surround yourself with a supportive community;

Get started today in my free 50+ Nomad group! Come and chat with a bunch of very lovely and very welcoming like-minded people, and share tips and strategies for boosting your income on the go, exploring new destinations, chasing dreams, and living your best life!

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