Imposter Syndrome & How I Deal With It
Imposter syndrome, it's a nasty old thing, isn't it? For those who haven't come across the term before, it basically refers to feeling like you're not really qualified for a job or opportunity, and a constant fear that someone is going to find out that you're a "fraud". I've suffered with imposter syndrome for pretty much all of my adult life. I've second guessed the opportunities I've been given, I've worried that I've somehow cheated the system, and I've felt guilty that I'm wasting other people's time. I've laid awake at night wondering when I was going to get find out, and how I'd carry on paying my mortgage when it happened. And the sad thing? I know I'm not alone. I think almost every single woman I know has battled with imposter syndrome at least once in their life.
I think that starting a new job is probably a big trigger of imposter syndrome and self doubt for anyone, and I've certainly found that to be true during the past few months. Now I'm getting into the swing of things I feel more confident, but I definitely felt the first few weeks worried that I'd do something wrong and be fired on the spot...
I'd like to think it's something that we'll all grow out of with age and experience, but from speaking to my Mum, I'm not sure this is ever really the case. Instead, we just need to find ways to deal with it, little tricks and tools that we can use when imposter syndrome is rearing it's ugly head.
So that's what today's post is all about. Those tips and tricks I've picked up over the past few years that stop me from collapsing into a ball of self doubt...
Remember that everyone suffers with imposter syndrome from time to time
That woman at work you admire so much because she's always smashing her targets and achieving amazing things? She probably doubts herself from time to time. That blogger who's life looks totally perfect in every way? She likely has a wobble whenever she compares herself to her peers. Your mate who seems to be moving up the career ladder at an alarming pace? I bet she still has a crisis of confidence every now and then.
I find it comforting to remind myself that everyone suffers from imposter syndrome from time to time - not because I want other people to feel the same ways as I do, but because they're proof that a bit of self doubt isn't enough to stop you from achieving your potential. Heck, I bet even Beyonce has felt unqualified for the job once or twice, but she didn't let that get in the way of world domination, did she?!
Keep an achievement log
This was a tip that someone gave me in my very first job and ever since, I've been passing it on to anyone who will listen! At the end of every week, spend 10 minutes jotting down the things you've achieved that week. It might be something small, like finally mastering that Excel formula, or something huge, like pitching to a client or presenting at a conference. Either way - jot it down in a notebook.
If you can keep this up and form a habit, within a couple of months you'll have a pretty robust achievement log. Not only will it help you when the ol' performance review rolls around and you can't remember what you've actually spent the last year doing (I can't be the only one who struggles to fill those forms in, right?!), but whenever the self doubt starts to creep in, you'll have a record of all the ace things you've achieved, which will give you a huge confidence boost.
Remember that you're setting an example
This is something that has become really important to me now I'm managing a big team of young girls - if I publicly put myself down and belittle my achievements, I'm setting an example that they should do the same. Remembering this reminds to me own my successes in the same way that I want them to own theirs, rather than brushing them off as insignificant or less worthy than other people's.
Whenever you start putting yourself down and worrying that you aren't good enough, think about who you might be setting an example to. It doesn't have to be a team at work, it might be your little sister or your daughter, but be conscious about the habits you want them to learn from you. It's okay to admit that you suffer with a bit of self doubt every now and then, but constantly belittling yourself is a no no.
Force yourself out of your comfort zone
A few years ago I attended a presentation about the differences between how men and women act within the workplace. A recent study conducted by the company presenting showed that in order for a woman to feel qualified and confident in applying for a new job, they felt like they had to be able to do at least 90% of the tasks on the job description. The percentage that men felt like they needed to be able to do before applying? 40%.
That stat has stuck with me ever since. Whenever I see a job that I love the sound of, but worry that I don't have all of the experience they're looking for, I remember that stat and apply anyway. Whenever there's a task at work that I don't feel 100% comfortable doing but know that I could have a good stab it, I put my hand up and volunteer myself. When I realised that imposter syndrome was a significant contributing factor to the gender career gap, I knew that staying within my comfort zone wasn't an option anymore.
Do you suffer with imposter syndrome? What are your top tips for dealing with it?