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Wandering Aimfully Through Confidence

12 Toxic Mindsets To Avoid as a Business Owner & How To Fix Them

All the business tactics in the world can’t help us if our thoughts are sabotaging our actions.
Jason ZookJason Zook Jason ZookJason Zook

Written by

Jason Zook

Table of Contents

🧠

Introduction

Mending Your Toxic Mindsets

🙅

Toxic Mindset #1

Perfectionism

😩

Toxic Mindset #2

Self-Doubt

😬

Toxic Mindset #3

Need For Validation

🙈

Toxic Mindset #4

Comparison

Toxic Mindset #5

Procrastination

👥

Toxic Mindset #6

People-Pleasing

😑

More Toxic Mindsets

Various Additional Poisons

👏

Wrap Up

Mending Your Mindset is a Crucial Business Skill

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12 Toxic Mindsets To Avoid as a Business Owner & How To Fix Them

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No one is immune to negative thoughts, and that’s why taking a hard look at your mindset is such an important task for any business owner (heck, any human!)

We (hello, we’re Jason and Caroline Zook 👩🏻‍🦰👨🏻‍🦲 by the way) know how tough it is to start a business, run a business, or simply create a new product or service.

The number of to-dos and tasks get piled higher than all the stacks of pancakes 🥞 at IHOP on a busy Saturday morning. But it’s not actually the project to-dos themselves that bring us stress; it’s all the mindset hurdles we have to navigate in accomplishing those tasks that bring our projects to a screeching halt.

We have personal experience with this entire cast of lovely characters…

Fear not, though! Over the years we’ve acquired some tools to shift these mindsets and we want to share them with you. We’ll go over a bunch of these “mindset poisons” in this article AND give you the “mindset antidotes” to deal with them!

We want you to know you are NOT ALONE, and dealing with these mindset hurdles as a business owner is completely normal 🙂.

 


An Introduction to Mending Your Toxic Mindsets

Mindset Poisons

We all have voices and thoughts in our heads that are not helpful. Some voices are louder than others and can keep us from reaching our goals.

🧠 “My work isn’t as good as theirs, so why try?”

🧠 “Who cares what I have to say?”

🧠 “I’m an imposter and totally unqualified to do this!”

These are just a few examples of mindset poisons. They are thoughts and ideas that run rampant in our minds, kind of like a kid getting let loose at a Chuck E. Cheese 🐭🧀🍕 for the first time. (Gosh, remember those simpler times??)

Our goal with the rest of this article is to identify a handful of these mindset poisons and offer you mindset antidotes that have been critically helpful for us and our Wandering Aimfully members over the years.

The 5 Foundational Steps To Dealing With Mindset Poisons

We’ve created a ⚡️ 5-step process ⚡️ to help cure ANY mindset poison you might encounter! This simple process will be the guiding force moving forward (kind of like a giant mouse was the guiding force at Chuck E. Cheese*).

Extremely random and silly fact: From 1977 to 1992 the Chuck E. Cheese mascot was an anthropomorphic rat, then it was changed to a mouse in 1993. In 2012, the mascot was rebranded into a smaller, “hipper” mouse-version in an attempt to increase sales. (Thank you Wikipedia!)

Step 1: Identify the “poison”

The first step to changing anything is becoming AWARE of what you wish to change.

Step 2: Get to the root fear

What is the poison when we break it down into its most basic fear? What moment from our childhood or a previous time in our lives is this fear grabbing onto?

Step 3: Identify the “antidote” to lessen the fear

What thoughts and actions can you intentionally shift in order to offset the effect of the “poison”? What is an opposite action (antidote) you can take?

Step 4: Visualize the new result

Imagine your mindset shifting from negative to positive. How would a specific situation be different using a different outlook?

Step 5: Put that antidote in action!

Identify 3 tangible habits, practices, or processes to ACTIVATE that antidote and see it play out in your work and life.

Don’t worry, we’ll go over specific examples throughout this article, but now that you have a clear process for working through your own toxic mindsets, you will be able to identify your own antidotes any time you encounter an unhelpful mindset in the future.

Okay, let’s get into a few specifics, shall we!

Mindset Poisons and Antidotes

 


Toxic Mindset #1: 🙅 Perfectionism

Perfectionism

Step 1: Identify the poison

When Perfectionism holds you back:

🙅 Projects or tasks drag on because you always see how they can be 1% better.

🙅 You abandon an idea or project before sharing it because you don’t want people to see what you consider an imperfect product.

🙅 You won’t try a new endeavor because you already know you won’t be able to execute to your perfect standards.

🙅 You don’t allow yourself to be vulnerable or authentic because the real parts of you feel imperfect.

Step 2: Get to the root fear

The question to ask yourself: “What fear does my perfectionism really stem from?”

Potential answer: “I’m afraid of feeling not good enough.”

Ways this root fear can impact you…

👉 “I’m afraid people will judge me if I put out something less than perfect.”

👉 “I learned as a kid that I wasn’t worthy of love unless I was perfect so feeling not good enough feels like I’m worthless.” (This one goes out to all our fellow over-achievers!)

 

Step 3: Identify the antidote to lessen the fear

Let’s go with: “I’m afraid of feeling not good enough.”

🤔 What are some thoughts you can repeat to yourself that can assuage that fear?

💡 “I am already ‘good enough’ as a person because my worth is inherent.”

💡 “I have the power to decide what ‘good enough’ means in my work, which is separate from my worth.”

💡 “My skillset may not be perfect, but I’ll never improve if I don’t continue making and sharing things.”

 
Basically…learn to be your own best friend and lean into some self-love (you deserve it)!

Self Love

The antidote to Perfectionism is Completion…

🙅 Perfectionism (poison) says: “I’m afraid of feeling not good enough.”

💪 Completion (antidote) says: “I’m the one who gets to define ahead of time what is good enough in my work and that will help me keep creating.”

Constraints help you pre-define “good enough” and completion helps you focus on finishing (not perfecting) so you can make more awesome stuff.

The goal is no longer to make something perfect; it’s to COMPLETE something in the time allotted to the standards you already set.

There is a snowball effect—the more you complete, the more you will see that things don’t have to be perfect for them to get you results.

You practice overcoming the fear of feeling not good enough by reframing good enough as something YOU determine, not anyone else.

Step 4: Visualize the new result

Previous you: Posting 1 or 2 “perfect” things on social media and continuing to feel stuck.

Antidote you: Posting consistently according to your constraints, knowing you’re planting seeds of audience growth every time you publish!

How to fight perfectionism

Step 5: Put the antidote into action

📝 Try a daily challenge: Here’s an idea. For the next 2 weeks, publishing something daily that’s imperfect but still helps move the needle forward for your business. There’s nothing like a daily challenge to desensitize you to imperfection.

Constrain your time: You only get ONE hour to do X task. Once the time is up, you are done and you move on. No extra time. No perfecting for hours.

📋 Write a “good enough” list: Before you start a project or share your work, try making a checklist for yourself for what Good Enough means in your eyes.

Constraints help you fight perfectionism by pre-defining “good enough” and completion helps you make more awesome stuff with less pressure.

 


Toxic Mindset #2: 😩 Self-Doubt

Self-Doubt

Step 1: Identify the poison

When Self-Doubt holds you back:

😩 You say no to opportunities because you doubt your abilities or don’t think you’re qualified.

😩 You feel paralyzed before you get started on a new idea because you don’t believe you’re capable of figuring it out.

😩 You’re afraid to raise your prices or charge more for your product because you doubt people will pay it.

😩 You feel a general sense of Imposter Syndrome which affects the confidence you bring to situations.

Step 2: Get to the root fear

The question to ask yourself: “What fear does my self-doubt really stem from?”

Potential answer: “I’m afraid of being exposed as a ‘fraud’.”

🤔 What are some thoughts that can assuage that fear?

💡 “I know that I’m conscientious and I will give my best to every opportunity.”

💡 “I have taken on opportunities before when I felt fearful and it turned out okay.”

💡 “I’m not ‘defrauding’ anyone! If I’m clear about my strengths and honest about my skills, I can set the expectations of those I fear letting down.”

 

Step 3: Identify the antidote to lessen the fear

The antidote to Self-Doubt is Self-Trust…

😩 Self-Doubt (poison) says: “I’m afraid of being exposed as a fraud.”

🤗 Self-Trust (antidote) says: “Giving myself the opportunity to grow does not make me a fraud. I trust myself that I can handle the discomfort of growth and I will bring my best to any opportunity.”

You think you need confidence first in order to trust in yourself, but you actually need to trust yourself before you can build confidence.

Self-doubt counts you out before you even begin; self-trust deals you in so you can continue to grow.

Self-trust is a muscle. The more you can trust yourself and practice sitting with the discomfort of feeling “out of your depth” the more you will grow and the less uncertain you’ll feel.

Step 4: Visualize the new result

Previous you: You say NO to speaking or podcast opportunities because you doubt in your ability to deliver.

Antidote you: You say YES to opportunities, even if they scare you, and you grow your brand awareness and improve your speaking skillset.

How to fight self-doubt

Step 5: Put the antidote into action

📝 Create a “trustworthy” list: Sit down and make a running list of all the things you’re good at and the things you know how to do—all the reasons big and small that make you trustworthy. Go back to this list when you doubt yourself.

💪 Intentionally practice a skill: Building self-trust takes EXPERIENCE. But you don’t have to wait for an opportunity to grow. If you want to get better at something, set time aside to practice which will improve your confidence.

💯 Set a “rep goal”: 50 speaking engagements. 20 podcast interviews. 50 art pieces. Focus on a clear goal to get the experience and this will help you establish building self-trust as the goal, not the outcome.

Overcome self-doubt with self-trust. You think you need confidence first in order to trust in yourself, but you actually need to trust yourself before you can build confidence.

 


Toxic Mindset #3: 😬 Need For Validation

Need For Validation

Step 1: Identify the poison

When Need For Validation holds you back:

😬 You let the thoughts and opinions of your audience steer your content in a direction that doesn’t feel authentic.

😬 A negative comment or email sends you into a self-doubt spiral.

😬 You try to be everything to everyone so you don’t turn anyone off your brand, but for this you end up being vanilla.

Step 2: Get to the root fear

The question to ask yourself: “What fear does my need for validation really stem from?”

Potential answer: “I’m afraid of not being liked.”

🤔 What are some thoughts that can assuage that fear?

💡 “Not being liked might feel crappy in the short-term but stifling my own wants or needs in the long-term will have much more severe consequences.”

💡 “I can’t make everyone happy anyway, so I might as well be true to myself.”

💡 “Relying on other people for my source of happiness or validation puts way too much power in the hands of other people.”

 

Step 3: Identify the antidote to lessen the fear

The antidote to Need For Validation is Intrinsic Motivation…

😬 Need For Validation (poison) says: “I’m afraid of not being liked.”

😇 Intrinsic Motivation (antidote) says: “Being liked is not my primary objective—being MYSELF is. I’m not chasing acceptance, I’m fueled by my own deeper purpose.”

Intrinsic motivation is about finding a WHY and a purpose that has nothing to do with the opinions of other people.

It requires that you prioritize your opinion of yourself above the opinion of others.

You have to be willing to be misunderstood, not liked, or ignored in order to try something new.

You can be motivated by the desire to develop a skill; the desire to be creative; the desire to impact other people positively…anything but “I am motivated by the desire to be liked.”

You have to learn to prefer the free feeling of being true to yourself above the fleeting feeling of being patted on the back or liked

Step 4: Visualize the new result

Previous you: You water down your content to please everyone and feed the algorithm, but start to feel uninspired.

Antidote you: You allow yourself to experiment, you feel free, you stumble upon a new area you want to explore.

How to fight need for validation

Step 5: Put the antidote into action

📝 Write down your why: When you embark on a project or endeavor, be sure to take time to write down your deeper why. This will help you stay connected to your motivation even if people don’t “get it.”

🙈 Don’t wait for the response: If you’re putting your work out there or hitting publish on something, don’t just wait with bated breath to see the reaction. Once you release it, let that be enough.

🎉 Celebrate yourself: Become your biggest fan. When you push the envelope or try something new, celebrate it. Congratulate yourself. Learn to value your opinion of yourself in the highest regard.

Avoid the constant need for validation by focusing solely on intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is about finding a WHY that has nothing to do with the opinions of other people.

 


Toxic Mindset #4: 🙈 Comparison

Comparison

Step 1: Identify the poison

When Comparison holds you back:

🙈 You use the talent or success of others to put yourself down or feel negative about where you are.

🙈 You follow others so closely that you lose your unique voice and start to copy their blueprint instead.

🙈 You compare your beginning to someone else’s middle so you think something isn’t worth doing because you don’t have the skills of someone who’s further along.

🙈 You see how someone else does things and it makes you question your instincts.

Step 2: Get to the root fear

The question to ask yourself: “What fear does my comparison really stem from?”

Potential answer: “I’m afraid of being judged as inadequate.”

🤔 What are some thoughts that can assuage that fear?

💡 “Inadequate according to whom?! I can’t let the opinions of other people stop me from making progress toward my goals.”

💡 “Comparison is relative, so why do I only use comparison as a means to discourage myself, rather than comparing myself to where I was a year ago?”

💡 “I can’t compare my journey to anyone else’s because they aren’t me. They don’t have the same strengths, values, skills, etc. that I do so I have to make decisions that are right for no one else but me.”

 

Step 3: Identify the antidote to lessen the fear

The antidote to Comparison is Owning Your Story…

🙈 Comparison (poison) says: “I’m afraid of being judged as inadequate.”

💬 Owning Your Story (antidote) says: “My story is mine alone. I can’t look to the path of others to set my standard of adequacy; only I can do that for myself.”

Owning your story will help you focus on the strengths within your own experience/self instead of chasing the story of others.

Comparison is about looking outward at others for cues on how you’re doing; owning your story is about looking inward instead.

Once you realize that everyone’s path is 100% unique to them, you realize that comparison is futile.

Step 4: Visualize the new result

Previous you: I want to start a travel vlog but compare my video editing skills to the popular channels and feel discouraged and paralyzed.

Antidote you: I know I have a unique creative voice to bring to the table so I start anyway and one year from now my travel vlogs feel polished and unique to me.

How to fight comparison

Step 5: Put the antidote into action

🙅 Limit your consumption: One easy way to stop comparing yourself is to limit your exposure to what other people are up to. If you find yourself comparing, unfollow. Spend more time creating than consuming.

🧭 Make a core values list: Remember, those you are comparing yourself to are not operating with your same core values. Write down what YOU care about, what your guiding list of values is, and this will help you own your unique path/story.

🗺 Write down your journey: Write down a timeline of all the pivotal moments that led you to where you are now. This will help you focus in on YOUR journey, no one else’s, and remind you how far you’ve come.

Steer clear of comparison traps by leaning heavily into your story. Owning your story will help you focus on the strengths within your own experience/self instead of chasing the story of others.

 


Toxic Mindset #5: ⏱ Procrastination

Procastination

Step 1: Identify the poison

When Procrastination holds you back:

⏱ You put off getting started on projects because you don’t know where to begin.

⏱ You don’t get back to clients or other business connections in a timely manner.

Step 2: Get to the root fear

The question to ask yourself: “What fear does my procrastination really stem from?”

Potential answer: “I’m afraid of feeling overwhelmed and like I’m not capable.”

🤔 What are some thoughts that can assuage that fear?

💡 “The most overwhelmed I’ll be during a project is likely at the beginning, so the sooner I get started, the sooner I can get through that feeling.”

💡 “Overwhelm is something I feel if I focus on the WHOLE project instead of just the first step.”

💡 “Not knowing how to get started or what to do is a natural part of figuring anything out.”

 

Step 3: Identify the antidote to lessen the fear

The antidote to Procrastination is Permission to Start Ugly…

⏱ Procrastination (poison) says: “I’m afraid of feeling overwhelmed.”

✍️ Permission to Start Ugly (antidote) says: “I embrace feeling overwhelmed or inept at the beginning of every project because I know it’s a part of the process.”

Giving yourself “permission to start ugly” will help lower the stakes for getting started.

By focusing on “starting” rather than the whole project, you can reduce that overwhelm just a tad and find the discipline just to tackle step 1 instead of steps 1-100.

Keep your expectations super low to get started and with that first action, you’ll notice you build momentum, requiring less effort to continue moving the ball forward.

You’ll make yourself feel like whatever crappy version you start with was done on purpose!

Step 4: Visualize the new result

Previous you: Waiting until the week of a deadline to start a project, getting stressed out and working long hours all week.

Antidote you: Starting the moment you got the project, and working in increments to slowly complete/improve the project.

How to fight procrastination

Step 5: put the antidote into action

🦢 Make “ugly” part of your process: Not everything starts out as a swan! Whatever your process is for your work, make step 1 something that is VERY low barrier and easy to accomplish. Ex) coaching slides

Set a “Getting Started” timer: Constraints for the win again! If you have trouble feeling overwhelmed when you start, try setting a timer for just 15 minutes to “start ugly.” You can do anything for 15 minutes!

🐜 Do the 5-minute task first: Title the Google Doc, even if you don’t start it yet. Import your footage. Write bullets for the blog post. Choose one maddeningly simple place to start.

If you’re constantly procrastinating, giving yourself “permission to start ugly” will help lower the stakes for getting started.

 


Toxic Mindset #6: 👥 People-Pleasing

People-Pleasing

Step 1: Identify the poison

When People-Pleasing holds you back:

👥 You say yes to too many opportunities because you don’t want to say no or let people down.

👥 You let clients take advantage of you and project scopes creep because you have trouble putting your foot down.

👥 You don’t speak up for yourself when a situation feels out of integrity or inauthentic because you don’t want to seem “difficult.”

Step 2: Get to the root fear

The question to ask yourself: “What fear does my people-pleasing really stem from?”

Potential answer: “I’m afraid of letting other people down.”

🤔 What are some thoughts that can assuage that fear?

💡 “My responsibility is to myself first. I have to put on my own oxygen mask first.”

💡 If people are not okay with me standing up for my own needs, they are not people I want to let into my circle anyway.”

💡 As long as I’m clear and up front about what my feelings/needs are, most people will respect that.”

 

Step 3: Identify the antidote to lessen the fear

The antidote to People-Pleasing is Boundaries…

👥 People-Pleasing (poison): “I’m afraid of letting people down.”

Boundaries (antidote): “When I take on too much or don’t speak up for myself, I let myself down. I have a right to protect my energy and be honest about what I can and can’t take on.”

Boundaries are how you articulate—to yourself and others—what does and doesn’t feel authentic to you.

When you are clear about your boundaries, you limit your resentment toward other people or the feeling that they’re taking advantage of you.

Every time you enforce a boundary, you’re choosing to “love yourself, even if you risk disappointing others” (credit: Brené Brown).

Step 4: Visualize the new result

Previous you: You say yes to every request a client makes because you don’t want to disappoint them but you end up spending twice as long on a project for half the money.

Antidote you: You establish clear boundaries and scope with your clients upfront, and because you’re sticking to timelines you can take on more clients while being happier.

How to fight people pleasing

Step 5: Put the antidote into action

🛑 Know your limits: Hard to enforce boundaries if you don’t know what they are. Decide where your limits are. How much are you willing to work? How many opportunities are you willing to take on?

📝 Write down your “no scripts”: Saying “no” sometimes feels awkward because we’re so trained to say yes. If you need to practice, write out thoughtful responses to some requests that have crossed your boundaries before.

📋 Create a “not okay” list: Boundaries aren’t just about what you’re willing to take on, they’re about what behavior you’re willing to accept. Make a list of things that are not okay with you so that if they come up, you can speak up.

If you’re constantly procrastinating, giving yourself “permission to start ugly” will help lower the stakes for getting started.

 


Mending Your Mindset Various Additional Poisons

Mindset Poisons

In this section, we wanted to give some quicker antidotes to additional poisons that can affect our mental fortitude as entrepreneurs.

Mindset: 🧠 Over-Thinking

Over-Thinking (poison): “I’m afraid of making the wrong decision.”

Embracing Experimentation (antidote): “It’s impossible to know the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ decision. I can’t think my way to an answer; I have to ACT my way to an answer and learn by doing.”

Mindset: 👨‍💻 Need For Control

Need For Control (poison): “I’m afraid of putting my fate in someone else’s hands.”

Collaboration (antidote): “I recognize that there are also positive things gained from combining forces with someone else.”

Mindset: 😕 Disappointment

Disappointment (poison): “I’m afraid I’m not cut out for this.”

An Attitude of Service (antidote): “One setback doesn’t define me. Instead of focusing on one lackluster launch or project, I choose to focus on helping/serving others and how good that makes me feel.”

Mindset: 😤 Over-Committing

Over-Committing(poison): “I’m afraid of losing out on an opportunity.”

Prioritization (antidote): “My next opportunity is not my last opportunity. I can only be effective if I choose where to place my focus carefully.”

Mindset: 🤦 Giving Up Easily

Giving Up Easily(poison): “I’m afraid of trying and failing so I give up before I can feel disappointed.”

Patience, Persistence, and Practice (antidote): “I know anything worth pursuing will have setbacks and I need to offer myself time to work through those setbacks to get to where I want to be.”

Mindset: 😥 Unworthiness

Unworthiness (poison): “I’m afraid I’m not worthy of good things.”

Self-Love (antidote): “Every single human is worthy of good things, including me. I will practice loving myself out loud until I believe that in my bones.”

 


Wrap Up: Mending Your Mindset is a Crucial Business Skill 👏

Much like learning how to sell, market, grow an audience, or even creating a great product or service, mending your mindset is a business skill.

Without the tools (antidotes) to deal with mindset hurdles (poisons) we all face, none of the practical business skills are enough. You know, just like going to Chuck E. Cheese isn’t fun if you only eat pizza and never play whack-a-mole!

Our hope is we’ve given you a process to work through whatever mindset poisons might be affecting you or that you might run into in the future. Just remember, your fears and your mental roadblocks are normal and we all go through them!

Now, grab your antidote and kick those poisons to the curb.

12 Toxic Mindsets To Avoid as a Business Owner & How To Fix Them

(Big Fat Takeaway)

No amount of business tactics will make an impact if you don’t mend your self-limiting mindsets.

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This article written by

Jason Zook

(he/him) Co-head-hancho of this WAIM thing. I used to wear t-shirts for a living, now I just wear them because I'm not a nudist. You can usually find me baking things, watching JCVD movies, and dreaming of living on an island.

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