13 Tips to Help You Beat Imposter Syndrome at Work
Imposter Syndrome at work can hit in a variety of ways. In the first scenario, it's what gives you a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach when you wait to hear what your boss has to say. It's this surety that no one else will do their part of the project as well as you could. At the same time, it’s also manifested in the way you cringe when you see a task you’ve never done before.
In all of these scenarios, the core idea here is fear. Fear of having others see you're not good enough. Fear you don't have the skills to do what you're given. Fear you don't have control of the situation or the ability to prove (again) you have what it takes …even if you don't believe you do.
Imposter Syndrome at work is especially damaging. It’s what holds you back from promotions. It’s the reason no one gives you added responsibility. It’s also the cause of too much stress, too many lost weekends where you put in hours upon hours while no one else does. It’s also the reason you micromanage and can’t let go of mistakes. Especially your own.
So how do you deal with Imposter Syndrome before it derails your career completely?
Know the Statistics
Did you realize 70% of people (some studies put this as high as 87%) suffer from Imposter Syndrome at some point in their life? You're not alone in feeling this way. Some would even say it's normal.
Understand the Origin
Not everyone has the same reason for having Imposter Syndrome, though. When you start feeling like you don't measure up, it's time to ask yourself questions. Do you feel like you do not understand the assignment? Could it be you're in the wrong department or, worse, the wrong career entirely? Or are you just thinking you might be in over your head?
Make an Action Plan
Once you know why you're feeling this way, it's time to figure out how to address the problem. Imposter Syndrome is only a symptom of something else. For example, you're not feeling comfortable in your career do you need more time to get used to the job? Or more training in a certain area? Or is it time to be looking elsewhere for work? Create a plan to tackle and beat back Imposter Syndrome once and for all.
Imposter Syndrome tends to make us overcompensate constantly. You become so worried about impressing those around you. You might start creating great, big impossible goals. Knowing this, what are some smaller goals you can set to help you feel more comfortable at work?
Look for Advice
There’s a lot to be said for mentors, especially ones who have already accomplished the things you’re setting out to do. Talk to your mentor about how you feel. Ask them for advice on Imposter Syndrome. What did they do which helped when they felt this way?
Recognize Your Accomplishments
Not every workplace is going to make a big fuss whenever you get something done. This is why it’s up to you to track your accomplishments. By making a list of what you’ve done, you have a record of success you can pull out whenever you feel like an imposter. As a side note, this might come in handy the next time you want to update your resume.
Get Your Priorities in Line
Your career really can take over your entire life if you let it. This is especially true when Imposter Syndrome kicks in, and you start to feel the need to overachieve to make up for your own perceived shortcomings. These feelings will have you working every night and weekend in addition to your regular hours. The problem? This lack of balance can take a nasty toll on your family life…and physical health. This is why it's so important to keep a healthy balance between work and the rest of your life, even when you're trying to get ahead.
Surround Yourself with Excellence
Imposter Syndrome tends to separate from others because you don't want them to see who you are. In this step, you're going to make a point of getting out and talking to the people who matter. In your workplace, there are bound to be people you admire. Look around you. Who has the traits you most want to emulate? Who seems like they have it all together? Who is getting ahead? Spend time with these people whenever you can.
Find Your People
In thinking along the same lines, don’t forget the people who believe in you. While these might not be the go-getters, they’re also incredibly important. You want people in your life who make a practice of building you up, especially if Imposter Syndrome is constantly tearing you down.
Ignore Everyone Else
Imposter Syndrome always is ready to point at those around you, so you sit up and take notice. You're going to notice every great achievement, every accolade, every win which isn't yours, along with the reminder they never will be. In the workplace, this can be deadly. Nothing will derail a career faster than the belief everyone has it better, everyone is more accomplished, and everyone will come out ahead of you. After all, if this is the case, there's no need to keep trying. This is why it so important to do just what your teachers tried to drum into you back when you a child: keep your eyes on your work. It doesn't matter what kind of success your coworker had. There's plenty of success to go around. By focusing on your accomplishments, you’re telling Imposter Syndrome to take a hike once and for all.
When you’re in a work environment, it’s normal to want to appear to be capable, like you’ve got it all together. Occasionally though, you won't always know what to do next. Imposter Syndrome kicks into high gear in these circumstances, reminding you relentlessly how it might look to ask questions. It's times like these where your best recourse looks a lot like keeping your head down and faking your way through. But is it? The problem with faking it is you're never going to do your best when you're floundering on the details. When in doubt, ask questions. You'll come out looking a lot better in the end.
Check Your Body Language
Imposter Syndrome affects a whole lot more than your attitude. When you're not feeling confident, it shows. Someone with a lot of doubts and insecurities is apt to hold back in groups. They'll avoid eye contact and even hunch in their shoulders or hold their arms in close as if warding off a blow. These are all protective gestures used unconsciously, which reflect how you’re feeling inside. Sadly, these same gestures will plant a lot of doubt in the minds of your managers. It’s hard to give added responsibility to someone who looks fearful or evasive. The fix? Believe it or not, here is where faking it actually will knock down Imposter Syndrome. Take on a more confident stance. Stand up straight, make eye contact, have a firm handshake. What you’re going to find out is pretending to have confidence makes you feel more confident automatically. It also knocks Imposter Syndrome flat on its back.
Regain Your Focus
Finally, if you're feeling derailed by Imposter Syndrome, consider this: whatever your situation, you came into this job with a certain purpose in mind. Either you had a goal that put you where you are today, or you intended this job as a means to get to where you eventually wanted to go. Whatever the case, allowing feelings of doubt and insecurity to pull the rug out from under you isn't going to accomplish any of your goals. This is why it's important sometimes to take a step back and return to your original vision. Strength of purpose pure power when it comes to defeating Imposter Syndrome once and for all.
The tips in this article should get you back on track into the world of quiet confidence and ultimate achievement. The important thing to realize is it might take time to undo some of the habits of Imposter Syndrome which have been following you around. You're going to have to build new skill sets and create a new way of thinking about yourself and others.
The good news? Once you do, you’ll never be held back by Imposter Syndrome again. Finally, you can achieve the kind of success you’ve always wanted!