The subject of imposter syndrome isn’t a new one, but in terms of posing challenges in the workplace, well, it’s certainly at the top of a lot of professionals’ list of concerns.
As Career Coach Allison Tatios notes, “Imposter syndrome can be your worst enemy,” threatening to hold you back in making major career strides. Proving your worth in an organization isn’t so simple when you fear you don’t measure up. Tatios explains, “Even if everyone else around you sees the amazing talent you have, if you don’t know how to own it, you may end up falling behind.”
Getting over this means gaining confidence and living up to your potential, without letting anxiety and doubt hinder you. Since the inability to internalize accomplishments can prove seriously problematic if you’re trying to get ahead at work or make your mark in a company, it’s essential that you figure out how to deal with these uncomfortable feelings, or at least learn to effectively manage them so they don’t damage your professional reputation.
Ahead, nine ways to win the battle against imposter syndrome from experienced career coaches.
1. Accept the Facts
Imposter syndrome is natural, and everyone has it at some point. Realize that you don’t get over it, you act in spite of it. Like any unproductive thinking pattern—what some call stinking thinking—the goal is to first catch yourself thinking that way, then find alternative thoughts that are more helpful. You don’t need to be perfect to succeed, but you do need to take action. Success favors the bold over the smart.
2. Work on Your Resume
Set aside time each month to work on your resume. Reflecting on your accomplishments in real time is critical, not just as a self-assessment and empowerment tool, but also as a preparation tool so that if and when opportunity arises for internal advancement or a new job, you’ll be ready.
3. Start a Humblebrag File
The key is to take ownership of your strengths by writing them down. Create a ‘humblebrag file’ to document your accomplishments, including milestones achieved or testimonials from customers and colleagues. It’ll come in handy the next time you ask for a raise or promotion. Anytime you start to feel inadequate, whip out your file and remind yourself of how awesome you are.
4. Develop Affirmations
Affirmations are a great tool for building inner awareness and self confidence. Use them in your head walking down the street, post around your desk or use as a screensaver, have them pop up as a reminder message on your phone, or make a poster of them to hang in your bedroom. Phrases like ‘I am confident in who I am and what I do,’ ‘I am strong and capable,’ and the default and most powerful, ‘I love myself,’ are like feeding yourself nutritional bits of self-esteem.
5. Stop Seeking Perfection
Don’t make perfection a goal. Recognize that you’re human and prone to making mistakes. Making errors on the job doesn’t mean you’re an imposter; it means you’re human. If you strive for perfection at all times, you will undoubtedly let yourself down, and that’ll lead to a feeling of inadequacy that will be hard to shake.
6. Identify the Root
It’s important to identify what’s causing these feelings of incompetence. Are they related to a lack of skills or area of knowledge? If so, consider taking a class or getting trained in a desirable skill if it will help you feel more confident about your abilities. If it’s a lack of confidence and not a concern over a skill you don’t have, try analyzing your work-related accomplishments to boost self-worth.
7. Think Strategically
Think of a strategic plan to move you forward and away from the consuming feelings of fraud and self-doubt. Get in the habit of re-wiring the negative messages coming into your brain. Turn them into positive thoughts, and be prepared with alternative messages to reference when you’re triggered and feel like a failure.
8. Embrace Support
Use your friends, family, and colleagues to support you. Make a point to get together with people you trust and practice sharing things you love, appreciate, and admire about yourself. This exercise challenges you to identify your wins aloud in the presence of others, something most of us don’t do often enough.
9. Hire a Professional
Enlist the services of a professional to update your resume for you. A good career coach will help pull out the things that really make you shine in your work. He or she will organize your history and skills so that they tell a clear story about you as a professional. Not only will you end up with a compelling, on-point marketing document, but you’ll also start to see how incredible you really are.
Ditching imposter syndrome altogether isn’t easy. It’s likely that it’ll surface from time to time, even if 95% of the time you feel proud of your accomplishments and confident about your work. When those feelings of inadequacy creep in and insinuate that you’re incompetent, you’ve got to call upon ways for overriding the negative thoughts. Whether that’s reviewing your accomplishments, reciting a personal mantra, or reminding yourself that perfection doesn’t exist, it’s up to you to take charge and reject the thought that you’re not good enough.
As Career Coach Avery Blank says, “You do not have to be 100% competent to be confident.” Now those are words of wisdom to internalize as you continue to embark on your professional path.