8 Books to Silence Your Inner Critic

8 Books to Silence Your Inner Critic

Is there a little voice in your head that says things like, “you’re not good enough,” “you’re a fraud,” or “who do you think you are to do that?” You’re not alone. That’s your inner critic (also called imposter syndrome) and it can be incredibly debilitating.

I help women who own small businesses overcome their limiting beliefs, and imposter syndrome is one of the most common. I’ve done a lot of research and reading on this topic, and have found some great resources that can help with quieting the inner critic.

If you’re doing mindset work around inner critic/imposter syndrome, self-doubt, or self-judgment, these are a few books that may be incredibly useful to you.

(Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning—at no additional cost to you—I’ll get earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.) 

8 books to help silence your inner critic and stop imposter syndrome

“The Big Leap” by Gay Hendricks

No list of mindset books is complete without “The Big Leap.” I believe it’s the first book anyone should read when working on their mindset.

This book can help you create a major perspective shift. You’ll learn about the four most common fears that hold us back, and begin to understand how you can push beyond them to achieve your full potential in work, relationships, finance, and all other walks of life.

“If I cling to the notion that something’s not possible, I’m arguing in favor of limitation. And if I argue for my limitations, I get to keep them.”

Gay Hendricks

“Braving the Wilderness” by Brené Brown

Feel like you don’t measure up? Think no one will care what you have to say? “Braving the Wilderness” may change your mind—and life.

Brené shares her four-step process to find true belonging through authenticity, bravery, trust, and vulnerability. The book is about learning to stand confidently in yourself as you are, rather than always trying to fit in. And the included story from Viola Davis is worth every bit of the book’s price.

“The truth about who we are lives in our hearts. Our call to courage is to protect our wild heart against constant evaluation, especially our own. No one belongs here more than you.”

Brené Brown

“Playing Big” by Tara Mohr

Are you playing small, held back by fear and self-doubt? If you’re ready to instead start taking bold action and pursue your dreams, then check out “Playing Big.”

Each chapter includes a discussion followed by practical tips and exercises (including journaling questions) to help you move past the internal barriers that are holding you back. It’s all about finding your voice and mission so you can finally create the life and business you really want.

“Playing big doesn’t come from working more, pushing harder, or finding confidence. It comes from listening to the most powerful and secure part of you, not the voice of self-doubt.”

Tara Mohr

“How to Be Yourself” by Ellen Hendriksen

Suffer from social anxiety? So do I, Ellen Hendriksen, and many other successful people. In “How to Be Yourself,” Ellen breaks into manageable chunks the cognitive processes that make basic social settings feel terrifying.

She also shares tools and techniques to push past the wall of anxiety and develop confidence to feel comfortable in any situation. It’s all about learning how to reality check your inner critic, among other things, so you can more fully engage in your life and have the social experiences you desire.

“If you wait until you are ready to do the things that scare you because you feel like you aren’t ready, you will never get around to doing them. We gain comfort and confidence through being uncomfortable.”

Ellen Hendriksen

“Quiet” by Susan Cain

Being an introvert doesn’t mean you can’t also be wildly successful. “Quiet” may inspire you to see your introverted self in a new, grateful light.

Susan Cain’s extensive research shows the slow rise of the extrovert as the “ideal” for success. More importantly, she makes a strong case for the power of introverts and also how the two can personality types can cooperate. The book is a deep well of wisdom about human interaction.

“Don’t think of introversion as something that needs to be cured.”

Susan Cain

“Banish Your Inner Critic” by Denise Jacobs

Feel creatively stifled by that nasty internal dialogue always telling you that you’re not enough? “Banish Your Inner Critic” can help you silence self-doubt so you can unleash your creativity.

Calling upon neuroscience, psychology, mindfulness principles, and self-compassion research, this book offers DIY techniques for putting the Inner Critic in its place. Learn how to defeat the barriers holding you back, and achieve success through a positive attitude.

“By giving the inner critic less of our bandwidth, we access, express, and cultivate our creativity; we take back our creative power. From this place of reclaimed creative power, we can go after even bigger challenges.”

Denise Jacobs

If you like straight talk, you may like “You are a Badass.” It’s a positive kick in the pants to help you stop doubting yourself so damn much!

Calling on the author’s own life experiences, this is a self-help book that shares old self-help ideas with a more straightforward bent. You’ll feel more inspired to stop caring what other people think, to figure out what you want but let go of controlling how it happens, and creating a support system and surroundings that will propel your inner badass into action.

“What other people think about you has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.”

Jen Sincero

“Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk” by Danielle Krysa

Dubbed as “duct tape for the mouth of every artist’s inner critic,” this book is a quick read filled with uplifting advice and practical exercises for silencing that stifling voice once and for all.

“Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk” introduces 10 truths creatives must face to defeat self-doubt. And this isn’t psycho-babble—it’s filled with anecdotes from successful creatives on how to silence your inner critic and build the confidence needed to create great work. 

“Do what you love, and the money will come. And if it doesn’t, you won’t care, because you’ll be happy.” 

Danielle Krysa

Undeniable and Relentless

Undeniable and Relentless

There was an interesting conversation this week inside my membership community, and I’m sharing because I think it’s a great lesson about how to become an industry expert and business leader.

A member shared this TED talk from a stylist who talks about dressing for confidence. Another member saw it and was upset for a reason I wouldn’t have expected.

Her response: “It bothers me that I frequently see articles go viral that are the things I talk about on an everyday basis. …. Seeing other people succeed at being so much like me is a little depressing at the moment. I feel like Monica in that episode of Friends where that girl steals her identity and lives her life better than she does.”

She went on to ask how someone does such a thing, identifying a topic, embracing it, marketing it, becoming known for it.

First, I am so honored that members of my community feel safe enough to express such real, raw, vulnerable feelings. I love that they know they won’t be judged and instead will be embraced and given positive feedback. That’s magical.

Second, this person’s experience is so incredibly common. So many of us are sitting on life’s sidelines and (with bitterness, anger, resentment, disappointment, sadness) saying, “How do I get in the game?” I’ve been there, too.

My response is equally simple and difficult: Just do it.

What I said to that member of my community: “You can’t think something or wish something but not do something and then be surprised when no one knows you can do that thing. If you have something to say, then say it.”

The woman in this TED talk probably started talking about this topic among friends or on her Facebook page, then turned it into a blog, then shared it on podcasts and local media, then turned it into a signature speech that she gave at local and then larger events, and finally applied to TED.

The takeaway? She honed the message until it was undeniable and then shared it relentlessly. That is how you become an industry expert. It’s also how you grow a successful business.

Success = Being Undeniable + Being Relentless

Of course, I recognize that’s easier to say than do. It takes clarity and confidence. It means honing your craft or message over time, making hard cuts and tweaking over and over until it’s undeniable. It means being persistent even when times get hard and you feel like giving up. This is the hard part.

So, the woman in the TED talk was successful because she did it. More importantly, she was successful because she believed in herself and believed she could be successful.

My member went on to ask about the mechanics of the process (ie, how doing a TED talk equals money and how to go from idea to undeniable). First, this woman is a stylist so that’s how she makes money; the talking, I’m sure, serves to increase her following and potential client base (or, maybe, to lead into something like selling a book). Second, it’s not just “build it and they will come.” More than just writing a blog post, you have to share it everywhere, ask others to share it, pitch yourself to podcasts and media and for speaking opportunities. You have to work hard for a long time.

Again, it’s like running a business. You can just put up a website and wait for clients to find you. You have to network, share content (provide value), do discovery calls or pitch yourself, ask for referrals, and never give up. Over and over and over again. Undeniable + relentless…

If you’re still stuck on the sidelines and not sure how to move from wishing to doing, let me offer a few resources to help you get going.

First, that’s what I do for my clients so hiring a coach is a great idea if you’re ready to really invest in yourself. If you can’t yet pay hundreds of dollars for help and want to DIY your mindset makeover, here are a few books I recommend*:

  • “Mindset” by Carol Dweck … Learn the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset, and why the latter is so darn important. This may be an eye-opening book that helps you begin to see why your upbringing and life experiences are making it difficult for you to dream and do bigger.
  • “The Big Leap” by Gay Hendricks … Want to dig even deeper into why you’re stuck? This book will help you clearly make the association between your past and where you are today. And once you can recognize those patterns, you can begin to change them. I can’t stress enough how transformative this book can be and has been for so many of my clients (and for myself).
  • “Braving the Wilderness” by Brené Brown … I adore every word Brené has ever written. I think this book is especially helpful for people who feel like they are too “different” or aren’t “enough” to ever be wildly successful. I don’t know how anyone can read the included story about Viola Davis and not be forever changed.
  • “Expectation Hangover” by Christine Hassler … If you tend to get caught up in a cycle of big hopes and giant disappointments, then do yourself the favor of reading this book. It has lots of great exercises to help you understand the roots of your wish-defeat cycle and how to begin to dismantle it so you can let go of outcomes and finally feel joy in the moment.
  • “Building a StoryBrand” by Donald Miller … If your problem isn’t so much mindset but just figuring out how to craft an undeniable message, then this is the book for you. The step-by-step guide for making your story compelling has been revolutionary for my business.

I hope this inspires you to be undeniable and relentless so you can become an industry expert and business leader. I know you can do it!


* This post contains affiliate links. If you use them, I’ll receive a small reward but the cost is the same to you either way.

How to become an industry expert

How to become an industry expert and business leader

How to Measure Goals

How to Measure Goals

Last year, I set a bunch of lofty goals and…I failed to achieve any of them. It didn’t feel great but, after the initial sting, it helped me see an opportunity for growth. I realized it’s time to shift how I craft and measure goals.

In short, I need to stop creating ego-driven goals.

Here’s what I mean. When I sat down last month to assess how things went in 2018, I immediately felt disappointed. I hadn’t hit any of the numbers I’d written down when the year began. Not one. But when I got honest with myself, I wasn’t surprised.

Those numbers were HUGE and completely arbitrary. I pulled them from thin air because they looked good.

If I made six figures, I’d feel successful.
If I had an email list of 10,000, I’d feel important.
If I reached 5,000 Instagram followers, I’d feel cool.

It didn’t matter that I was building a new business and starting from $0. Or that it had already taken me a year to get just 1,400 people on my email list. Or that 5k Insta followers would be a nearly 500% jump in one year.

Are you tired of setting and failing to reach your goals each year? Learn about how I'm making changes to better measure goals.

Clearly, my goals weren’t based on reality—they were just numbers designed to stroke my ego. And, at the end of the year, I didn’t feel successful, important, or cool. I felt like a big ol’ failure.

Thankfully, I’ve done enough mindset work at this point that I don’t stay in the self-pity place for long. Instead, I did some more digging to see what I could learn from my numbers.

Turns out, it wasn’t all gloom and doom. In fact, there was a ton of good news hidden in my “subpar” results.

1. Income Goal
Bad news: I didn’t hit $100k
Good news: I increased revenues 83% without additional childcare hours (meaning, I did it while working an average of 25 hours a week). All 100% of the increase came from an entirely new business (coaching), which grossed more than $30k in its first year. And my original business, corporate writing, earned more than $45k (same as the year prior) despite my divided attention.

2. Email Goal
Bad news: I didn’t grow a list of 10,000
Good news: In fact, I ended 2018 with a list of just under 1,000 (50% less than at the start of 2018). That sounds like a giant flop, until you learn that I cut my email list from 1,500 to 300 in May in response to GDPR (a new European email privacy law). So, I actually tripled my email list in just 7 months. Better yet, my open and response rates also went up.

3. Instagram Goal
Bad news: I didn’t get to 5,000 followers
Good news: My Instagram following only grew by about 200 followers (of course, I didn’t really engage on the platform so, duh!). But, my overall social media reach grew by 41%. That’s about 2,200 more followers (across all platforms combined) than I had in 2017. I’ll take it.

This year, everything is different. No more vanity metrics! I’m using the OKR method, which my amazing friend Angela at All The Ops teaches (or you can learn about it in John Doerr’s Measure What Matters) to outline goals that are incredibly specific. I’m also using the last year of real data to choose numbers based on historical trends (as in, no more expecting to grow page views by 500% if my average annual increase is 10%).

I also invested in a detailed audit of my analytics (you should, too, and Annie’s Crafty Marketing is the company to hire!). This helped me see what’s really working and what isn’t so I can invest my time, money, and energy into high-impact activities.

Finally, I’m doing monthly check-ins (with the amazing members of my membership community) to regularly assess what’s working and to tweak and refine my goals and to-do list based on actual results.

Instead of feeding the ego monster this year, 2019 will be all about combining data with intuition to guide my choices and measure goals. How did you set and measure goals this year? Comment below!

Scarcity Mindset

Scarcity Mindset

“Who am I to charge $____?”
“Why would anyone ever pay me $____?”
“I’d have to work endless hours to make $____.”

I hear some version of these statements from most of my coaching clients. It pains me to hear them, but I also understand them.

Thankfully, my days of the feast-famine, calm-crazy financial cycle are over. After lots of hard work, I’ve shifted from a scarcity mindset to abundance thinking. I’ve developed practical strategies for overcoming fears, pushing past doubts, and finally believing I can and will make more money.

[Want to learn my secrets? I spill them all in my 28-Day Money Mindset crash course. Don’t miss this chance to finally shift your thinking!]

6 signs you have a scarcity mindset

Not sure if it’s scarcity thinking that’s holding you back from making more money? Here are six signs:

1. Constant worry: Money is almost always on your mind. You’re stuck in a worry cycle, spending hours a day (and losing sleep at night) over your fear of not having enough money.

2. Judgment (aka secret envy): You think rich people are arrogant, lucky, spoiled, rude, etc. and having money is bad. It’s easier to say you don’t want money than to deal with your guilt, shame, or other negative feelings about it.

3. Avoidance: Money goes as quickly as it comes in. You’re “bad” with money and don’t want to deal with it (after all, “If I have money, I’ll just lose it”) so you don’t bother with pesky things like bookkeeping.

4. Low prices: You’ve priced your way to the bottom of your industry because no one would ever pay a premium for what you do, right? When someone says you’re too expensive, you believe them.

5. Overspending: Shopping is fun! You buy without thinking, spend everything you have, and use shopping like others use alcohol or food. Hitting “buy” is like a warm cozy blanket.

6. Underspending: Shopping is evil! Every penny you spend now is one less you’ll have in the future when you may need it more. “I can’t afford it” is always your go-to response (whether you’ve looked at your accounts or not).

Recognize yourself in any of those? Are you letting any of these pesky mindset problems hold you back? If so, make this the year you finally conquer your scarcity mindset and start thinking like a millionaire.

Sign up today for my Money Mindset crash course. It’s 28 days of inspiration and practical strategies that will challenge you to change your beliefs about money. Give yourself this gift and make this your most profitable year yet.

6 signs of a scarcity mindset6 signs of a scarcity mindset6 signs of a scarcity mindset

Business Success

Business Success

How to Succeed in Business: It's not as Easy as Some Experts Make it Seem

Last week, someone in my VIP membership community asked about how to succeed in business. She bravely shared that she’d made zero Black Friday sales and was generally feeling completely defeated.

“This is getting too exhausting. I haven’t made money in months and it’s killing me.”

She said she’s now second guessing every decision she makes, and she’s even beginning to think that maybe people just don’t like her.

The post broke my heart … and it made me mad.

I’m mad at the online “gurus” who contributed to her feelings. They clog our newsfeeds with “easy secrets” for five-figure launches and six-figure businesses and growing a massive following. They tell us they know how to succeed in business and make it seem oh-so-simple.

Enough is enough.

Here’s the truth. It may not be what anyone wants to hear, but I think it’s what everyone (especially this amazing woman in my community) needs to hear:

Starting and running a successful, sustainable business is HARD WORK. Period.

Are there unicorns who lucked their way to the top overnight? Sure. But for most of us, it takes time to craft clear messaging and create a solid offer. It takes time to build a following or a network of ideal clients. It takes time to nurture them and to get them to buy. It takes time to develop loyal clients who become repeat buyers. Want to know how to succeed in business? The answer is it takes time.

I’m sick of people trying to sell the bill of goods that you can somehow skip ahead in line if you just learn their handy, dandy secrets.

I’m even more sick that I’ve seen behind some of those curtains and now realize that many of these same people fail to tell you that their “7-figure business” is based on gross numbers and they actually clear something far less. Or that the “5-figure launch” they’re hyping cost $5,000 or more in Facebook ads. Or that their “overnight success” came because of a total fluke viral post or because they were an early adopter of a now-overrun social media channel.

Very often, with a little digging, you discover the truth isn’t as simple as the promise.

If you’ve ever done home repairs, you’ve probably heard “you can have it good, fast, or cheap — pick two.” The same is true with business.

👉 You can build a financially successful business fast and cheap, but it will probably be a really crappy business (as in, one built on tricks or lies).
👉 You can build a GOOD and financially successful business fast, but it won’t be cheap (as in, you’ll need to spend a lot of money on ads, lists, or professional help).
👉 You can build a GOOD and financially successful business cheap, but it will take time (as in you, you’ll need to float that business while you DIY your way into clients).

I’ve chosen Option 3 (good and cheap, not fast) both times I’ve built a business.

The first time, I spent 6 months planting seeds for and saving money to float a freelance writing business while I was still working full-time. Then I spent another 6 or more months relying on my savings as I actually grew the business after leaving my 9 to 5.

The second time, I spent 6 months laying the foundation for a coaching business while making 100% of my income from my writing business. This year, I began to make money from coaching but I’m still doing writing work to sustain myself financially.

As I shared with my membership group, less than half of my income this year came from the work I really want to be doing (coaching, community, and courses). By the end of next year, I hope to be making almost all of my income from this new venture.

That’s not glamorous, and it certainly isn’t the stuff of flashy Facebook ads. But it’s my truth, and the truth of so many other successful business owners I know.

Why am I sharing this today?

I want you to know you’re not alone. You’re not alone if, like the woman in my membership community, your business has you feeling exhausted and frustrated. You’re not alone if, like her, it’s taking more time and energy than expected to be successful.

If you feel that way, take a deep breath and know it’s normal. Then, silence the voices that are adding to those feelings. They aren’t helping you and, more than likely, their “secrets” about how to succeed in business won’t either. Finally, find yourself a business community that is built on truth and support.

Surround yourself with others who “get it” and who are willing to share the good, bad, and ugly of owning a business (not just the Instagram-worthy highlights).

You can build the business of your dreams. You can get rich from your special gifts and talents. But if it takes you more than a few weeks or if the “3 secrets” don’t work for you, that doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It means you’re normal, and that’s okay.

Good, fast, or cheap—which 2 are you choosing? Comment below and let me know!

How to Succeed in Business: What the Experts Don't Always Tell You
Lessons from Failure

Lessons from Failure

Earlier this month, I hosted a business retreat (it was the second I’ve hosted this year). By most markers, the event was a flop. I only profited $811. It takes about 200 hours to plan, market, organize, and execute the 3-day retreat. That means I earned about $4 an hour. But I’m here to share that there are always lessons from failure.

My first retreat back in May sold out and I cleared a bit more than $2,800. That’s about $14 an hour. Not great, but three times more than this go around.

Why am I telling you these numbers? Well, I’ve realized there are valuable lessons from failure that I really want to share.

I’ve always been quick to tell people that they should always charge what their work is worth. What I’m realizing is I need to be more cautious about giving that advice. There are exceptions to any rule, including pricing, and it’s unfair for me to paint with broad strokes.

I could easily feel like a complete failure for hosting a second event that made so much less than the first and that had three fewer attendees than planned/budgeted.

The truth is, my $4-an-hour effort was a total success (and, frankly, it would have been even if I had lost money). Here’s why:

DATA: This was an amazing learning experience. I discovered that fall is a tough time to host an event because the primary sales period is during the summer when most business owners aren’t in buying mode. I realized I need to do get full or more sizable payments upfront to reduce the risk of losing money. I also learned that I much prefer a smaller group because it allows deeper connections. Finally, I got an opportunity to test new techniques to see what works and what doesn’t.

SERVICE: The attendees got amazing value from the retreat. I created a safe space for women to learn, share, and grow. They walked away with a deeper understanding of their businesses, their goals, and themselves. They made meaningful connections with other women that I am confident will continue for months and years to come. I want to make money, of course, but ultimately I became a mindset coach to empower women and this event did just that.

CONFIDENCE: I walked away from the event with a major boost in confidence. Like most people, I sometimes wrestle with doubt and imposter syndrome. Although I’ve been self-employed for 14 years, I’ve only been coaching for a little over a year. I appreciate any opportunity to do this work and receive positive feedback for my efforts. It’s more than a nice pat on the back; it’s a reaffirming experience that motivates me to keep doing this work I love.

Does this mean I’d be satisfied making $811 for future retreats? Or $4 an hour for anything? Heck no.

I’ll use everything I learned to make mindset and tactical changes so this doesn’t happen again. I’ll do my best to make sure my next event or offering results in a financial payout that leaves me feeling proud and successful.

That said, I’ll also remember that when things don’t go as well as I hope (because sometimes they wont, no matter how hard I work), that it doesn’t mean I’m a failure. And I hope you do the same.

Learning to reframe failure, and find the successes even within the disappointments, is incredibly powerful.


The truth is, my $4-an-hour effort was a total success (and, frankly, it would have been even if I had lost money). Learn why.