5 Steps to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

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Have you ever felt that your achievements are down to nothing more than good luck? Are you scared of being exposed as incompetent, inadequate, under-skilled or under-qualified? If you answered "yes" to either of these questions, you may be experiencing imposter syndrome. Symptoms can include self doubt, harsh self criticism, expectations of self perfection and a fear of being exposed as a fraud.

In my 20s, I landed the role of my dreams which came with a lot of responsibility. My team members were all older than me, my budget was bigger than I’d ever imagined and we were undergoing a massive change project. On the outside, I was hitting my goals, had great relationships and was making a consistently positive impact. However on the inside, I was plagued by self doubt, convinced everyone would find out that I was terrible at my job. There was absolutely no basis to my fears but they were very real to me. Imposter syndrome is very common and apparently affects high achieving women more than any other group (although anyone can experience it). It can also be worse if you belong to an under-represented group. However there are some steps you can take to overcome it.

What You'll Need

  • Yourself

What You'll Do

  • Acknowledge your achievements. Reflect on what you have achieved and the hard work that made it possible. What are you proud of? What have you overcome? What positive feedback have you received? Start capturing your accomplishments, as and when they happen, so that you can refer to them when in need of a boost.
  • Listen to your thoughts. The things we tell ourselves become our reality. If you have constantly negative thoughts, you will internalise them and everything you achieve will be seen through this lens. By listening to your thoughts, you can start to turn anything negative into a positive affirmation. Challenge yourself to only have positive, kind, loving thoughts towards yourself for a week, and see what a difference this makes.
  • Forgive your mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes and the best way to react is to treat them as learning opportunities. Your mistakes do not define you but the way you react to them does. Forgive yourself for mistakes that you have made in the past. The next time you make a mistake, focus on what you can learn from it and what you will do differently going forward.
  • Visualise success and set goals. Create a clear picture of what success means to you and then break it down into small goals that will take you closer to your vision. Focusing on what you want to achieve helps to overcome imposter syndrome as it shifts your focus from your perceived inadequacies to the bigger picture of what you wish to achieve.
  • Seek help. It can be difficult to view ourselves positively and if this is something you are struggling with, seek help from a supportive colleague, friend or mentor. A mentor in particular can help to normalise what you are feeling, whilst looking objectively at your achievements, advising and guiding you on any particularly challenging areas and giving you an outlet for some of what you are experiencing.
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