Is it a confidence problem or a fear problem?

I was recently talking with a woman who had been daydreaming for years about quitting her corporate job.

When I told her my story about leaving my own high paying gig after just one week (during a recession), she called me a hero.

I certainly didn’t view it that way. To me, leaving the corporate cage was the only option. But our conversation left me thinking about the many reasons women don’t pursue the things they want.

This post on Instagram—which shares that men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, yet women apply only if they meet 100% of them—struck me. It’s often assumed that women don’t chase their dreams because they struggle with a lack of confidence, but that’s not always the case. I’ve heard from many clients who genuinely feel they’re up to the task, but they’re still afraid, for a host of reasons, of taking that next step. In other words, fear seems to be a common denominator.

So how do you know whether confidence or fear is holding you back? Here are a few clues.

If you feel like a fraud, you have a confidence problem. Imposter syndrome is a surefire indicator of a woman in need of confidence. If you feel unworthy of your job, relationship, etc., and you’re just waiting for everyone to “find you out,” you’ll likely miss the chance to celebrate wins you’ve rightfully earned.

If you’re preoccupied with what others think, you have a fear problem. Do you find yourself worrying about how others will perceive you—so much so that you feel paralyzed to act? Making decisions solely, or even mostly, based on outside opinion will only serve to stifle your wants and needs.

If you devalue your worth, you have a confidence problem. So many women I work with leave money on the table because they don’t have the confidence to ask for what they’re worth. This leads to missing out on earning their potential, on promotions and on job opportunities.

If you’re worried the grass isn’t greener, you have a fear problem. Sometimes we don’t just fear failure—we fear success, too, because what if succeeding isn’t as good as we’d imagined? Or what if it’s worse than what we have now? This kind of fear can cause us to unnecessarily second-guess ourselves. Because what if it IS greener?

If you undermine your experience and expertise, you have a confidence problem. I’ve coached a lot of clients who do this, especially through language. They tear themselves down, often in an effort to receive validation, which is draining to people around them. It can also cause them to lose respect because they don’t own their genius.

If you resist leaving your comfort zone, you have a fear problem. Comfort can be deceptive. Yes, it’s reassuring to stay in the familiar. But that’s not where the good stuff happens. Staying in our comfort zone means we miss out on opportunities to learn and grow.

Whether you’re hesitating because of fear or lack of confidence, know that I’m rooting for you to take the next step. And if you need a little boost from a coach, let’s schedule a call.