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“I bet she’s wondering how they made those pants in your size.”
That’s a real thing my inner mean girl said to me once at yoga teacher training. It was the first time I heard her voice as something separate from me, something shocking and harsh. These internal critics can halt our progress altogether if we let them.
I was curious if other female entrepreneurs deal with this, so I decided to ask my friend Angie Lee. I thought getting her opinion would be helpful, as my business operates largely behind the scenes, and hers is, well, Insta-famous. Lee runs an Instagram empire and has had her share of difficulties, but she continues to show up for the nearly 100,000 people in her audience.
Here are our tips for showing up when the pressure is on and the self-talk has turned to smack talk.
Be known for one thing — this will help tame impostor syndrome
When you’re an entrepreneur, and especially when you’re in the early stages of creating your brand, it can be tempting to try to do a million things all at once. Maybe you act as a podcaster, an author and a content creator all at once. But what would happen if you focused on just one thing and mastered it until you were known for your one special skill?
As Lee says, “We all want to be Tony Robbins, but the truth is we can’t all have a giant lifestyle brand. I kept my health element out of my business until I was truly known for marketing and business to keep my direction crystal clear.”
Work that work-life blend
“My friends are not entrepreneurs, and that’s on purpose,” Lee says. “My boyfriend and I have a no work after 6 p.m. policy. I shut it off.”
She’s right: If all your friends have their own yoga gear lines, how are you going to decompress? As much as entrepreneurs love work, we have to walk away from it so we can see it with fresh eyes. Our inner critic gets louder when we are burnt out. We must remain rested and moderately balanced. Decide when you’re going to work and when you aren’t, and go all-in on your “on” time as well as all-in on your “off” time.
Give back and pay attention to your audience
“One of the best tips I have learned along the way is to always respond to your followers’ direct messages,” Lee says. “It doesn’t have to be right away, but by responding to them, you let them know you hear them and care about their opinion. It blows my mind how people on the top just ignore their DMs. These people are the reason you do what you do, right? So spend some time with them or pay someone who can.”
Your brand is built on the people who support you, and as long as you want a successful brand, you have to take care of the people who made it a reality in the first place. Your inner mean girl will be nicer to you when your heart is in service and gratitude. Set some time aside everyday to give back and get into joy.
Stop trying to serve everyone, that’s mean girl food
“It’s a humbling reality when you learn that it is almost certain not everyone will like you,” Lee says. “On the other hand, it’s an equally calming feeling when you realize that’s okay. When you realize that it’s not your job to please everyone, you’ll find yourself feeling much more at peace about your work and who your work is meant for. Remind yourself that it’s your job to show up for the 90 percent of people who will love your work and also know when it’s time to leave the other 10 percent behind.”
Aim to do 80 percent of your tasks, make 80 percent of your clients happy and eat 80 percent vegetables. Work with that inner-mean girl voice and set boundaries against perfection.
Lastly, if the inner mean girl attacks, know that tomorrow can always be a better day
“Some days are just bad days, and that’s okay,” Lee says. “There are days where I wake up and feel sluggish, unmotivated and downright lazy. Other days, I doubt if I’m doing the work I was meant to do or if I’m where I’m supposed to be in my stage of life, and that’s when my inner mean girl comes out.”
When you find yourself in a tough spot of self-doubt or confusion, remind yourself of these five steps to reset, and then get back out there and kick ass in the space you were meant to be in. I also find it helpful to write down what your inner mean girl is saying to you, then tear the piece of paper up.
Most importantly, prove the voice wrong by being kind to yourself. As you journey into more positive self-talk, be sure to share your experience so you can relate to other women — we’re all in this together.