How to: Overcome imposter syndrome

‘Do you even go here?’ 

If you’ve ever felt totally lost in an important meeting, during a presentation, or in any other work-based scenario, you’re not alone. Imposter syndrome is an annoying yet perfectly natural reaction to a step outside of your comfort zone. But it can be tackled.

If your feelings of self-doubt are affecting your confidence, here are our top tips on how to overcome imposter syndrome for good:

 

What is imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is a feeling that despite your skills and achievements, you don’t belong in your role or your company.

It stems from irrational thoughts that you’re a fraud, you aren’t capable of doing your job, and everyone’s going to find out.

However, none of these feelings are accurate or true, and are simply a manifestation of your insecurities – often brought on by a new job, a promotion, or a change in responsibilities.

 

Identify the cause

OK, so you know how you feel, but why are you feeling it?

Identifying your feelings is easy, but knowing where they’re coming from (especially if your imposter syndrome is subconscious) isn’t always as straightforward.

Ask yourself; is it a new job title? A promotion? A new role all together? Or is it your current workload, a project with a lot riding on it, or a senior level meeting?

Translation: a step outside of your comfort zone.

With new responsibilities often comes doubt, insecurity, and a feeling of ‘I’m not good enough for this, and everybody is going to find out’. And this is even more prevalent when the stakes are high. But that doesn’t mean your feelings are justified truths.

So don’t panic. Luckily, realising what’s knocking your confidence is the first step to turning your mindset around.

How to: Get promoted

 

Talk about it

Now you know what the problem is, you’re one step closer to solving it.

But you don’t have to do it alone. Imposter syndrome is almost always a manifestation of your own feelings; so get it out of your head – and talk to someone.

Of course, you shouldn’t choose just anyone. For example, colleagues are probably a no-go in this situation, especially the ones who are influencing your feelings of self-doubt.

Instead, pick someone you trust, outside of work. Not only can they remind you of your strengths and assure you that your fear is irrational, they can also (almost definitely) relate to how you feel. After all, almost everyone has experienced imposter syndrome at least once in their lives, even if it was only short-lived.

If nothing else, you’ll feel better for getting things off your chest. You might even come to your own self-assured realisations, just by voicing your feelings.

How to: Communicate effectively at work

 

Stop comparing yourself to others

Ever heard of the saying ‘the grass is always greener on the other side?’

Well this also applies to the damaging (yet often hard-to-avoid) act of comparing yourself to people around you – whether it’s a friend who’s speeding ahead in their career, or a colleague who always seems to know that little bit more than you in every meeting you attend.

Sure, they seem like they’ve got it all figured out. But chances are, they may be struggling with the same things as you. You just can’t see it.

And it’s not just the fact that you can only see certain aspects of a person’s skills and abilities (see also: ‘humble braggers’) that makes it impossible to compare yourself to others. It’s also that, to put it simply – everyone’s different.

Whilst that person you’re putting on pedestal may thrive in areas you feel weaker in, you’ll likely have strengths in other areas that supersede theirs.

So stop using other people’s careers as a benchmark for your own. Focus on you.

 

Give yourself a pat on the back

Let’s face it, you’re your own harshest critic.

This means that you find it difficult to identify your achievements – but are all too good at belittling them.

Yeah, you did great work last week, but was it really enough? It was probably just a fluke anyway. It was luck that allowed you to deliver that project on time. And how much longer can you keep this up?

If all of the above sounds like a thought process you’re familiar with, you probably need to work on some self-love.

To turn your negative thoughts into positive ones, consider making a list of your key skills and accomplishments. Not only will this instil some much-needed confidence, it’ll also help you to realise that you are actually good at what you do.

Remember: you were hired for a reason. The people around you have confidence in your abilities; which means you should too.

How to: Speak confidently at work

How to: Feel valued at work

 

Accept that you won’t always know everything

Unfortunately, not having all the answers is often the main cause of imposter syndrome – especially on those ‘off days’ where you find yourself drawing a blank on every question you’re asked.

But you know what? You’re not perfect, and that’s OK.

And whether your own lack of confidence stems from of a career change, a new role, a promotion, or you’re just new to the world of work all together, there will always be times when you don’t feel up-to-speed.

But that doesn’t make you an imposter.

As long as you retain confidence in your abilities, you’re open to learning, and you aren’t afraid to ask for help, your feelings of self-doubt will likely disappear in time.

Remember: If you’re working hard and giving your all to the role, you should have nothing to worry about.

How to: Take criticism at work

How to: Deal with work problems professionally

 

 

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