The Self-defeating Inner Voice

‘Listen to your inner voice’ advice is like learning to make a cup of tea when the only part of the recipe you heard is “…and then you add milk…”. Add milk? How much? When? What do I add before that? Cow milk? Buffalo milk? Milk causes cancer… doesn’t it? In the end, you’re only left with milk; there is no tea.


What’s the most challenging part of quitting your job and starting your own business? I can tell you from my own experience and conversations with my other solopreneur friends that after you take the decision and start your business, your biggest enemy is your own self defeating voice and mental chatter. And that’s why starting your own business is harder when you have worked few years in a job set-up; when you get used to of the idea of working under a bosses and managers, taking directions from others and getting rewards and punishments for it.

But then – what happens when you quit the job and become your own boss, when no one cares what time you reach the office, how many holidays you could apply, how many hours you put in a day or how productive your were in those hours? Well, that’s when your inner devils try to become your boss and take over.

If you have been through the process of leaving your job and starting your own entrepreneurial journey, you will would that it only feels liberating for a week and after that – a fight starts between you and your inner voice. This or that? Now or when? Me or them…within couple of weeks you start wishing you had a boss again.

Not that you didn’t have an inner voice when you were an employee. Of course you always had an inner voice but when you have a boss at work, you are so busy listening to her that it’s easier to ignore all the internal chatter.

I can tell you from my 4 years of relationship with my own inner voice – listening to my inner voice without moderation only made me a mess and had a paralyzing effect on me, making it much harder for me to be disciplined, creative, and efficient – the most essential skills you need to successfully run a business.

Here some real life examples of some of my inner voice in the first year of starting my business, as I can still recall them very fresh in my memory.

Morning – when I wake up (my phone alarm ringing)
Hmm, Nice distant music playing, who cares, I am not listening..
Aah, wait – it’s about to end, can’t leave it unfinished (I often find myself stuck the climax of my dreams, especially the morning ones)
You poor thing – you worked so hard yesterday – you need more rest

Before I go for my morning run
You’re too late.
Look it’s so sunny already
Look at those dirty shoes, buy a new pair first

When I sit down to write an article
Dude, this table is a mess – clean it first
What a bad topic – who wants to read that
Wipe that god damn dust on your laptop screen
I need another cushion to rest my back
This is rubbish. Nobody is going to read it.
Aren’t you feeling hungry? Let’s take a round to the kitchen

When I am about to send quotation to client 
Dude, you’re going to give him a heart attack with that price
Can you even deliver what you’re promising him
You need to add more meat to this proposal
He isn’t going to buy, you’re wasting your time

You can imagine how rest of the day goes, if I keep listening to every inner voice.

Every time I had to write a piece of article, get on a client call, send a quotation, I have to defeat my inner voice, ignore the brain farts that keep telling me – ‘why I shouldn’t do it?’.

I am not saying that you shouldn’t listen to your inner voice. It’s impossible to not listen to yourself; after all that’s your brain talking to you and you got to listen. All I am saying is that if you want to start a business as a solopreneur – you will have to learn to stick to your plan and build the brain muscle to moderate your self defeating inner voice. You should know when to listen to him and when to shut him up and get things done. Without developing this ability, if you let your inner voice take over your actions – you will find yourself running in circles.

Just sit down, stay there – commit yourself to get it done now. Get used to of the discomfort. Perhaps, learn to make peace with it. That’s the only way you can calm your self defeating voice and get yourself into the zone of creation when you will make amazing art, write winning emails, create kick-ass proposals  and get things done.

Image Credit: The sound of silence