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Have you ever felt like you don’t deserve your job or accomplishments? Or that you weren’t capable of the job you were hired (or recruited) for? You’re not alone! Impostor Syndrome first gained recognition in the late 1970s. It refers to an individual’s self-doubt of their achievements, sometimes to the point of fearing they’ll be exposed as a fraud. In fact, recent research estimates that 70% of people will deal with Impostor Syndrome across all backgrounds, industries and roles. So what can you do to deal with it?
Be yourself! When you start a new job or step into a new role you may feel the pressure to “act” the way you believe someone with your new title should. This mindset is a trap that many people fall into, thinking their new role is something they need to embody. In reality, you already embody your new job! Nothing really changed between the day you were given your new role and the day before. You were already qualified and capable of taking on your new position, in fact, that’s probably why you got it. Don’t start acting differently just because you have a new job. Make small personal and professional adjustments overtime as you settle into your new role. Being genuine also carries the added benefit of staying in touch with your feelings, wants and needs, This makes the transition less emotionally taxing.
Learn From Your Mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes. But, if you’re someone who struggles with Impostor Syndrome chances are you spend a lot of time beating yourself up over any mistakes you make, or failures you’ve had. This type of agonising is a waste of your time. And is hugely unproductive. Take time to learn about other people’s mistakes and the lessons they’ve learned. You’ll begin to realize that everyone makes mistakes, but it’s how you handle them that determines what happens next. Instead of beating yourself up, try harnessing that desire for success. Look at mistakes as learning opportunities and the chance for improvement.
Whether you’ve completed a big project or received positive feedback from your boss, celebrate your achievements. No matter how small, learn to reward yourself for a job well done and acknowledge your hard work. If you’re someone who has always been a high achiever or had a lot of expectations placed upon them, rewarding yourself might not come easily. Practice giving yourself a pat on the back and enjoy your achievements when they come. You’ve earned them!
Fake It ‘Til You Make It
No matter how experienced you are, there will always be times when you might not feel confident. In these instances, acting confident in the place of true confidence can yield the same results. This can help you develop self-assuredness as you realise how capable you really are! Taking risks will help you understand your true competencies and develop confidence in your abilities. You’ll also find that when you appear confident, those around you treat you as so and are unlikely to be able to tell the difference.
While most people will experience Impostor Syndrome at some point in their lives, these bouts of self-doubt are often short lived and limited to times of change. If you’re struggling with Impostor Syndrome, talking to a close friend or family member can help you challenge your self-doubt. It’s important to remember you’re not alone in feeling like an impostor and that learning positive habits can take time. Practice as often as you can and give yourself room to grow.
Remember, nobody starts off as an expert. Curating your professional talents and skills takes decades of experience. Even the most successful people begin their careers feeling unsure of themselves. As Richard Branson, the self-made billionaire writes:
Fortune favours the bold, so don’t be afraid to task risks!
“Even if I have no idea where I’m going or how to get there, I prefer to say yes, instead of no. If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you’re not sure you can do it, say yes –then learn how to do it later!”