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Imposter syndrome

Navigating Imposter Syndrome for a Thriving Career

Last Updated on January 29, 2024 by Career Reload

Ever had that nagging feeling in the workplace that any moment now you’ll be exposed for the “imposter” you believe yourself to be? That you don’t quite deserve the position you landed in the workforce or your place around the boardroom table? Well, guess what – that nagging feeling, it’s pretty common – in fact around 70% of people have confessed to having imposter syndrome at some point in their careers according to Forbes Magazine.

Successful people have shared their struggles with feeling like a fraud, but with the right mindset, anyone can overcome it.

We’ll guide you through the journey you can take from banishing self-doubt to a thriving and successful career; helping you navigate imposter syndrome.

Understanding Imposter Syndrome

So, let’s take a moment to understand imposter syndrome. It’s a psychological phenomenon characterized by persistent self-doubt and the inability to internalize your accomplishments, even if you have evidence to the contrary. It’s important to recognize that imposter syndrome can affect anyone, regardless of their level of success or expertise.

The Imposter Syndrome Spectrum

Imposter syndrome isn’t a one-size-fits-all experience. It manifests in various ways, and you might identify with one or more of these common profiles:

The Perfectionist

Striving for flawlessness but never satisfied with your achievements.

The Expert

Feeling the need to know everything before taking on a task, you often avoid challenges to evade potential failure.

Natural Genius

Believe that your success is solely based on your natural talent or intelligence.

The Soloist

Believing that you must accomplish tasks alone and not ask for help or collaboration.

The Superwoman/Superman

Juggling multiple roles and feeling the need to excel in all of them without showing vulnerability.

Recognizing the Signs

If any of the characteristics in the imposter syndrome spectrum feel relatable – then having this self-awareness is one of the first steps to help you begin to overcome imposter syndrome. It’s also essential to recognize the signs of when it might begin to creep up on you, for example:

  • Second-guessing your abilities.
  • Downplaying your achievements.
  • Feeling like a fraud.
  • Fearing failure.
  • Overworking to prove your worth.

Take a moment to reflect on your own experiences and see if any of these resonate with you. If you allow imposter syndrome to creep in, it can really slow down the progression of your career. You might be inclined to bypass an amazing opportunity for fear of failure, or experience burnout because you are forever pushing yourself to be perfect, you might lack confidence and belief in your abilities which in turn hinders your growth. Knowing what impact imposter syndrome has on your growth – should be your motivation for overcoming it.

Building a Foundation: Cultivating Confidence

Building confidence is at the heart of conquering imposter syndrome. Start by increasing your self-worth and recognizing that your achievements are the result of your hard work, skills, and determination. Start to see mistakes as valuable learning opportunities and a way to build your resilience. Mistakes are the experiences that contribute to your growth, everyone makes them, and the main thing is, that you learn from them.

Strategies for Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

  1. Confront Negative Self-Talk: Turn your inner critic into your inner coach. Replace self-doubt with positive affirmations. Remind yourself of your accomplishments and abilities.
  2. Set Realistic Career Goals: Break down your long-term goals into manageable steps. Remember to celebrate small victories along the way to boost your self-confidence.

Find a mentor or Coach

If you identify as a ‘Soloist’ then you may struggle with this one, but finding a good mentor or coach to help you develop in your career can really help to push you forward a lot quicker than you may do trying to go it alone. Don’t hesitate to seek support. A mentor or coach can provide guidance, help you to set goals, hold you accountable and help build your confidence. Professional relationships can be invaluable in overcoming imposter syndrome by sharing their experiences and making you realize you are not alone.

Networking with Purpose

Build a strong professional network. Surround yourself with supportive peers who understand your journey and can offer encouragement. Share your experiences and listen to others’ stories; you’ll find that imposter syndrome is a common challenge.

Celebrate Your Achievements

One of the best ways to build your confidence and self-esteem is to do the things you said you were going to do, holding yourself accountable, and then when you have those wins, and see progress – celebrate your success, no matter how small they may seem. It’s always important to take a moment along your journey to recognize how far you have come. A really nice way to do this is to keep a journal of your milestones to look back on and remind yourself of your growth and accomplishments.

Real Success Stories: Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Another thing to help you along your journey and to keep you inspired are stories of successful individuals who battled and triumphed over imposter syndrome. They are the living proof that doubt can be transformed into confidence.

Former Facebook COO, Philanthropist, and author Sheryl Sandberg has spoken about her imposter syndrome, particularly in her book “Lean In.” She encourages anyone who suffers from imposter syndrome in the workplace to challenge self-doubt, take risks, and not let it hold them back from their career goals.

Maya Angelou, the late poet and author, famously revealed that she often felt like a fraud and feared that people would find out she couldn’t write. She combated imposter syndrome by acknowledging her doubts but continuing to write and learn.

Reading inspirational books dedicated to overcoming imposter syndrome can provide you with a deeper insight into the effects it can have on you but also how it can be overcome.

Charting Your Path to Career Success

As you are building your career and your confidence along the way, and you just start to do the things you said you were going to do, your belief in yourself will grow, along with your self-esteem and confidence. Create your own action plan and goals you wish to achieve based on the strategies outlined here and set yourself milestones, that way, when you reach them you get to celebrate yourself and the hard work you did to get there.

Final thoughts: Embrace Your Potential and Thrive

Imposter syndrome is a formidable opponent, but it’s one you can defeat. Embrace your potential, acknowledge your worth, and take actionable steps toward overcoming self-doubt. Remember, the journey from doubt to success is not linear, but with determination and the right mindset, you can navigate imposter syndrome and thrive in both your life and your career. Your success is waiting for you; believe in yourself, and you will achieve greatness. You’ve got this!

Frequently Asked Questions

Does imposter syndrome ever go away?

You can manage imposter syndrome and work on your mindset to stop it from creeping in with the right tools and strategies.

What are the five types of imposter syndrome?

The five imposter syndrome types are the Perfectionist, Superhuman, Natural Genius, Soloist, and Expert. While the types appear differently, all make you feel fraudulent about achievement.

Is imposter syndrome a type of anxiety?

Though the impostor phenomenon isn’t an official diagnosis, psychologists and others acknowledge that it is a very real and specific form of intellectual self-doubt.