Will impostor syndrome be the one thing holding you back from achieving your goals this year? If you’ve ever felt like a fraud or you’ve doubted yourself, you know what we mean. Becoming aware of your impostor syndrome — and taking action to stop it in its tracks — can be one of the best things you do for yourself this year as you progress toward your goals.
How do you know if you’re dealing with impostor syndrome? Impostor syndrome warning signs include thoughts like, “If I can do it, anyone can,” “I had a lot of help,” “I’m not sure I belong here,” and “I don’t deserve this success.”
If you’ve caught yourself thinking these thoughts, it’s important to take action to overcome them. Impostor syndrome can stop you from asking for your next raise, going for a promotion or signing up for a big project. It stops you from achieving your full potential.
Determined to make 2020 the year you finally put those negative thoughts to rest and defeat imposter syndrome? Explore some quick tips to change your mindset and increase your ability to reach all of your goals.
1. Recognize your hard work
One of the biggest tricks impostor syndrome plays is diminishing the hard work and effort you put into gaining the success you have reached in your career thus far. When feelings of being an impostor and a fraud creep in, it may be because your focus is on comparing yourself to others, thinking about everything you don’t know and any mistakes you’ve made.
“Imposter syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success,” writes Gill Corkindale in the Harvard Business Review. “‘Imposters’ suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence. They seem unable to internalize their accomplishments, however successful they are in their field.”
Flip those thoughts around and look at all you’ve done so far. Consider your path with objectivity, as if it was someone else who had achieved what you have. You may discover incredible effort and strength within yourself that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Challenge yourself to take this perspective when you start to feel like an impostor and you’ll be able to transform those thoughts into self-confidence.
2. Appreciate your skills
When it feels like you’ll never ‘be enough’, chances are you’re underestimating yourself. In fact, studies on confidence reveal that often those who perform well believe they did poorly and those who perform poorly are overly confident in their results. It’s normal to worry that you aren’t doing great at your job and underestimate the outcome of your efforts.
“High achieving, highly successful people often suffer, so imposter syndrome doesn’t equate with low self-esteem or a lack of self-confidence,” Corkindale continues. “In fact, some researchers have linked it with perfectionism, especially in women and among academics.”
To overcome these fears and beliefs, turn your attention to your skills. What have you learned that’s valuable to your career? Get creative if you’ve jumped from one industry to another. Make a list of skills and keep them in a folder you can look through when you’re feeling less than confident. While your thoughts may make you feel like a fraud, you’ll have a list of undeniable facts that show you’re more than prepared.
3. Look for the trigger
What is bringing up these feelings of impostor syndrome? By finding the source, you may uncover how to overcome the problem. Pay attention the next several times you start to feel these feelings and write down what happened immediately before them. You may find that a certain co-worker, boss or client makes you feel this way.
Once you’ve identified the trigger of your impostor syndrome, head to your journal and start writing your thoughts down about why this happens. What is it about this person or project that brings up these feelings? What thoughts arise? What would it look like to flip those thoughts around? Figuring out the source of your impostor syndrome is a powerful way to fight it.
4. See the stepping stones in failure
According to impostor syndrome expert Valerie Young, perfectionists have a particularly difficult time with feeling like a fraud. Every little mistake sends them into a tailspin and makes them wonder how they ever achieved anything. For perfectionists, changing their mindset around mistakes is crucial.
When perfectionism starts to get in your way, it’s time for a little exercise on failure. Get out a notebook or journal and write out a few mistakes or failures you’ve dealt with in the past. Now, brainstorm all the things you’ve learned and gained from those experiences big and small. However painful it may be to dwell on failure, you’ll see that every misstep is for your benefit.
5. Share your experience and connect with others
All too often, those struggling with impostor syndrome feel alone, backed into a corner with only their faults to keep them company. You may be surprised just how many women struggle with impostor syndrome. Some of the most successful, accomplished women — including Maya Angelou, Tina Fey and Michelle Obama! — have felt just the way you’re feeling.
This is another reason why it’s so important to build a network of support. At Central Exchange, you’ll find a collective of women ready to uplift you. You may find your next mentor, friend or colleague here. You will find women who manage impostor syndrome and continue to reach their goals in spite of it. You are welcome here! Register for one of our many upcoming programs and get the motivation you need to achieve your goals this year.