9 Ways to Overcome Doubt When Remote Work Feels Hard

overcome doubt - Virtual Vocations telecommute and remote jobs

Have you questioned your job decisions or professional worth when remote work feels hard? In this article, we provide nine tips to help you overcome doubt and find a new spark for telecommuting. 

9 Ways to Overcome Doubt When Remote Work Feels Hard

Working remotely can be one of the most invigorating and liberating experiences of your life. You can remove the 9-to-5 restraints, set your own hours, and work from wherever you want to create the ideal work-life balance for your life. Your friends are jealous and your career path is even more fulfilling.

If only you could ride that high forever.

Sadly, it doesn’t always work that way. Fear, exhaustion, and even imposter syndrome can work their way into your mind and body, wearing you down until you’re full of self-doubt. You can start to question whether you’re cut out for remote work, or if you’re even worthy of such a position. It happens to professionals all the time—you are not alone.

It may take some time to break out of your funk and enjoy telecommuting again, but you can overcome doubt with these simple tips:

1. Give Yourself Some Time Off

A regimented remote work schedule is almost a necessity, especially if you have specific times you need to be by the computer. However, remote work can blur the line between parental duties, job tasks, and personal time. If you’ve been soldiering on for months without some time for yourself, it’s time to pencil that into your schedule.

The benefits of using your time off to unwind and unplug are plentiful. It can remove mental and occupational stagnation to forget about dates and deadlines—you can focus on you. Then, when you’re back in the home office, you’re ready to dominate. This will not only reduce doubts but also boost productivity.

2. Hit the Gym (or Yoga Mat)

When you really want to replace negative thoughts with positive ones, put on your workout clothes and head to the gym. Research from Scientific American shows that when you work out, it increases blood flow to all parts of your body, including the brain. This gets your neurons working, which is proven to enhance cognitive function.

An added bonus of working out is that your body releases endorphins. While endorphins are technically the brain’s way of numbing pain or discomfort, the chemical also gives you a sense of well-being and a body high. Keeping these things in mind when you work remotely can often help improve a day that’s gone sour because of self-doubt.

3. Remember, You’re Here for a Reason

If you didn’t have the ability to telecommute, you wouldn’t have been hired for the job. If you didn’t have the talent to freelance, you’d have run out of money a long time ago. It’s sometimes difficult to wrap your head around these facts. To compound the issue, the dark side of your consciousness can often play tricks on you, making you feel less self-worth than you should.

During these times, remember that you’re here for a reason. Someone interviewed you for a remote position and liked what they saw. A client looked at your portfolio and trusted you to deliver high-quality work.

Focus on your attributes and achievements to remind you that you have the skill set, experience, tangibles, and intangibles to get the job done. You’ve got this!

4. Remind Yourself: What’s Done Is Done

You may have been working on a project or email, and all the sudden it happens. Your brain shouts, “What the heck am I doing?” And you start to believe it. Every strange scenario and every career choice plays out in your head. Is it too late to go to law school? What if I would’ve gone into marketing? What if I would have followed my high school sweetheart to college? All of these what-ifs are a surefire way to drive you crazy.

Sure, it’s fun to think about what-if situations in a light-hearted manner, but when it impairs your ability to work, think, or enjoy life, it’s problematic. That’s when you can tell your brain to shut up with one simple phrase: what’s done is done. And that’s it. You can’t change it now.

Remind yourself of what made you want to telecommute in the first place, or why you love your job. It may take some digging, but you’ll find that the positives usually outweigh the negatives.

5. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

You may not be aware of it, but every time you hop on social media and stumble across a friend from school or another job who appears to have an entertaining, fulfilling life, you start comparing. Pictures of them in exotic locations, or announcements about their career or family, can give your friend an unearned celebrity status in your head. Unfortunately, this can instantly send you in a tailspin. You subconsciously start comparing yourself to them and find yourself lacking. Don’t let it happen.

If you can swing it, take social media off your schedule or agenda during the day. This will help you avoid a situation where you compare yourself to others constantly. If you can’t keep away from social media, go in with a mindset that you’re your own person. You’ve had successes; you’ve had failures—it’s all part of life.

That’s what your peers don’t post on social media, and that’s why you need to stop comparing yourself to others. If it means getting rid of your social media profile or paring it down to only those close to you, so be it. At the end of the day, you’ll feel better, and you almost certainly won’t miss the pick-and-choose content uploaded by people you haven’t talked to in a decade.

6. Dress Up for Work

It may sound counterintuitive to remote workers, but getting out of your pajamas can provide a boost to your confidence and set the tone for the day. When you put on fresh, casual or business casual garments they can provide a sense of empowerment; something you can’t quite put your finger on, but it’s there. Even if getting dressed in the morning seems like a hassle, or you need to wake up 20 minutes early (one of the great banes of the remote worker), you’ll feel ready to tackle the world. Plus, you’ll be prepared for impromptu video conferences with clients, bosses, and colleagues.

7. Find Inspiration to Overcome Doubt

Inspiration is everywhere you look, but if you’re wallowing in self-doubt, inspiration is far from conspicuous. Oftentimes, things that inspired you in the past don’t have the same motivational qualities as they once did. That’s when it’s time to branch out and discover new ways to ignite that spark of inspiration.

Both fiction and nonfiction books provide anecdotes, lessons, or rags-to-riches stories that can help you regain your work mojo. If you aren’t a bookworm, you might find inspiration in other areas, such as nature, sports upsets, or music. The source of the inspiration isn’t nearly as important as the value it brings to your life—both professionally and personally.

8. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Comfort and contentment have a place in your life, but they can breed complacency and contempt if you have too much of a good thing. This problem grows tenfold when you don’t have colleagues or co-workers around to discuss your feelings or provide encouragement.

When you feel this way about your remote job, a good way to infuse some urgency and confidence to overcome doubt is to get out of your comfort zone. This can be as subtle or sensational as you want. Changing up your routine can help alleviate some of the negative aspects of the comfort zone. You could also ask for a new project or responsibility that forces you to get creative or gain new knowledge.

Whatever you choose to do, breaking out of your comfort zone can improve your on-the-job skills and raise your morale.

9. Rebound and Learn from Your Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes. The difference between long-term success and failure is learning to rebound from those mistakes.

If a client dropped you from a campaign or you messed something up on a project or report, it’s not the end of the world.

First, focus on how to fix or mitigate the damage caused by the mistake moving forward. Next, analyze the circumstances so you can make changes to prevent the situation from arising again. Maybe “Jeopardy!” was on when you were putting in that Excel formula. Or perhaps your kids came home from school. Or maybe you ran out of coffee that morning. Regardless of the reasons behind your shortcomings, you can always bounce back, learn from your mistakes, and take the necessary steps to ensure they don’t happen again.

Fear of failure, self-doubt, or a lack of motivation are all in your mind. Sure, everyone needs a break now and then to rest physically, but the rest are inventions of the brain, designed to keep you down. The good news is that you can overcome doubt! Learn from your mistakes, keep a proper work-life balance, and trust yourself to know when to walk away. You may just find a newfound zest for your awesome remote work lifestyle.

What are your tips to overcome doubt when remote work feels hard? Connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to tell us your advice. We’d love to hear from you about how you’ve learned to overcome doubt as a telecommuter.

iStock Photo Credit: 1. ipopba; 2. NickyLloyd


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