It’s easy to feel like you don’t belong. “I’m not worthy of the praise I receive” or “I’m a fraud” are thoughts people around the globe, maybe even you, experience persistently and can create huge obstacles in their professional lives.
This guide is here to help you deal with imposter syndrome so you can work better and make sure nothing stands in the way of you having a rewarding career that moves forward.
What is Impostor Syndrome?
Impostor syndrome is a complex psychological issue that often affects high-achieving individuals. In loose terms, the definition of it is doubting your abilities or feeling like a fraud.
When you have worked tirelessly to achieve your goal and you still find yourself thinking, “I don’t belong here” or “that was just luck, I’ll never do it again,” you probably are experiencing impostor syndrome.
1. Being Aware
Of course, we are thinking all the time. But using your emotional intelligence at work and being aware of the signs of impostor syndrome can often be a good way to start dealing with them.
Here are a few warning signs:
- You feel that your achievements are luck, even when you put in hard work to reach your goal.
- You are convinced that you are going to be found out as a fraud and consider your contributions worthless.
- The standards you set for yourself are almost unattainable.
- You think that if you display confidence you will be seen as overcompensating or obnoxious.
- You find it difficult to accept praise.
Sometimes it’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of thinking like this when you’re at work.
When you are going through the process of ‘hard work’, whatever that may look like for you, slow down, step back, and take the time to think about all of the efforts you are putting in. This will help greatly when it comes to knowing that you tried hard.
Also, when these thoughts start to invade your mind, it’s important to alter the language that you are using. Simply opting for more positive words in your vocabulary will help greatly. Your choice of language matters when it comes to your self-perception.
2. Seek Help
A medical journal said in a 2020 review that between 9 and 82% of people had felt like they were frauds.
Senior managers and mentors exist at work so that you can talk to them about your accomplishments and how you feel about working with them. Take the time to get to know yours, and you’ll find that they are likely to have experienced thoughts like this, so consider asking how they coped with it or still cope with it.
You may even choose to speak to people outside of your workplace about it. It is so common that you won’t be searching for long before you find someone who’s going through the same thing as you and can help.
In addition, there are toll-free medical advice lines open around the clock, and you can even have a doctor email list database available online for you to reach out to.
You can also sign up to self improvement courses and take advantage of a pre-recorded webinar or virtual classes to improve your skills.
3. Know your worth
Impostor syndrome relies on the idea that you consider your contributions or work to be worthless or not important to your business or workplace. Praise can often feel like a joke.
For example, let's say you work for a company that doesn't know much about how a subscription to an online sales platform can help. You look into what software is out there, start presenting the software you find, your coworkers adapt it, and sales go up. You are deserving of praise and recognition for your great decisions.
Be humble when it comes to receiving positive praise. When you show gratitude for your rewards or when someone tells you how valuable you are, it can help you understand what you're worth.
If you work hard to overcome difficulties at your company, such as aircall issues, or solve problems within your team, take the praise; it was your doing.
Another great step to take is trying to recognize and respond when others are doing well too. It shows humility and you will come across as humble and appreciative. It also helps us recognize that everyone can work hard and everyone is worthy of praise.
4. Stop being a perfectionist!
Often, those who suffer prolific impostor syndrome are high flyers. They have incredibly high standards for both themselves and their work.
Not only is this impossible to maintain, but it feeds directly into considering yourself a fraud. Striving for perfection will only sow seeds of doubt when it comes to handing it to your manager.
Setting achievable and manageable goals can help with this one. Now, this doesn’t mean slacking off at work. Simply take the time, when you are completing a project or working to a deadline, to ask, “Is this good enough?”
Asking that straightforward question often helps us put things into perspective. If it will achieve the goals your company needs and is of a good enough standard, then the praise or accolades you receive will feel much better.
Also, use the tools that are there to help you. If you are constantly contacting others, using systems like enterprise phones to manage your business conversations can improve productivity.
5. Take some time for yourself
We have all been working incredibly hard over the past two years. With a pandemic, changes in the economy and politics, and the news, it is so important to take some time for yourself. Many businesses have overworked employees, and it’s not good for growth or success.
This isn’t about reducing responsibility in the workplace. It’s just about using the time that you have to put yourself first from time to time.
Our brains are always under huge stresses and strains. When this happens, we can start to think very differently and start to develop a negative mindset.
Alleviating some of that stress can help us to think much more clearly when it comes to our work.
Taking time to exercise, spend time with loved ones, share our thoughts and feelings about work, and appreciate what we have around us can help us value ourselves more and improve our mindset. It’s all about finding a great work-life balance.
6. Track Your Successes
Success is often difficult to accept when we are experiencing impostor syndrome. Most likely, you have put in considerable effort and are not seeing it.
Make a document or folder that you can start to fill with successes. Here are a few things you can track to get you started:
- Positive praise
Any positive interaction you have, whether it is face-to-face or through remote work, That may come from email, or you could write up a conversation you had with a colleague. Make sure you include your name so it feels personal. These are great to come back and look at in the future.
Find a piece of trackable information that is important to you. For example, employees at web app testing companies may choose to track how many people use their apps and watch the number increase over time. This lets you see your accomplishments and understand that your hard work is paying off. This lets you see your accomplishments and understand that your hard work is paying off.
- Done lists
We all know about the dreaded to-do list, but what about done lists? These help us see what we have achieved.
Often, we make a to-do list and cross off one or two things, but we’ve been busy all day. Okay, you might not have completed what you thought you would, but what have you done? What positives can you take from your day?
Track how you are successful and do it regularly. Seeing our successes helps us recognize our hard work and reduce the “impostor” feeling.
7. Say Yes
Impostor syndrome comes with a horrible feeling of being unable to do things even when they are achievable. Saying yes can be difficult if we feel this way. Now, I’m not advocating that we say yes to everything. It’s important to still manage our expectations of ourselves. However, it feels good to say yes and achieve something great.
Furthermore, saying yes brings us so many new opportunities. We meet new people, have new experiences, and learn new things.
Imagine that your boss would like you to take over the audio conferencing department of your company. You might know very little at the beginning. Take the time to read an audio conferencing definition and throw yourself into the role; you’ll be surprised at what you can do.
8. Use It To Your Benefit
Completely eradicating your impostor syndrome should be the ultimate goal; however, it can be difficult, especially if you’ve experienced it for a long time.
If you feel that it’s never going to go away, that’s okay. All you need to do is recognize when you are experiencing it and move forward anyway. Doing this means you aren’t creating barriers to your own success.
The most effective thing you can do now is start learning the symptoms of impostor syndrome. This will give you a head start when it comes to coping with it in the workplace. Being able to instantly combat your negative thoughts with more positive ones will greatly improve your self-perception.
Following this guide is the first step in a lengthy journey. Take time and small steps, and you will start to move past your impostor syndrome and into a much happier professional position.