Hey y’all! So by now you’ve probably heard all about imposter syndrome.
It’s basically that niggling feeling that your successes or achievements are fluke, chance, luck and absolutely nothing to do with your skills or talent. The one that says you’re not good enough and any minute everyone will realise you’re a fraud.
And the worst thing is you might not even realise you have it. It can be so ingrained in your psyche that you think it’s perfectly normal.
I’ll hold my hands up, I’m guilty of that. In fact, even though I know what it is, I don’t always recognise it straight off the bat.
So how do we figure out when we’re letting imposter syndrome squash us? And how do we tell it exactly where to go?
1. Are you really failing?
Success isn’t satisfying when you’re impostering all over the place.
Last Christmas was my most successful quarter yet. And yet every time a new order came through, I felt that it just confirmed it was a fluke. Each nice bit of feedback seemed like reassurance that any minute it would all stop and I would feel like a failure.
So take a minute and look at the stats. How many sales did you make this month? How many people have reached out with nice feedback? Which targets have you met recently?
They’re a cause for celebration, and it’s highly unlikely they happened by chance. You’re putting the effort in, so own it when it works.
2. What are you afraid people are going to find out?
It’s easy to get really vague about failure.
The mere thought “I’m a failure” carries such weight it can genuinely frighten you and get you down in the dumps.
But when I’m worried people will find out I’m a fraud, I have to ask myself: what exactly are they going to find out? What do I really think I’m hiding from everyone?
I come up blank every time. And it helps me realise that I shouldn’t be afraid.
3. Retrace your path
When you’re a high achiever, it’s likely you’ve moved up the career ladder or become a leader in your industry. And it can feel like you only got there on sheer dumb luck.
So trace the steps that got you where you are today.
Was that promotion luck, or have you worked hard for months leading up to it? Was winning that award luck, or did other people have to weigh up your talents and work? Did any of your progress come out of the blue or can you see the steps you took to make it happen?
Once you answer these, you can see that you deserve your status.
4. When did you last genuinely relax?
Often we imposters are complete workaholics. This is because we seek validation from the work environment.
And when you work for yourself that can mean your “days off” are totally guilt ridden because you’re thinking about all the work you could be doing. I have it so bad I think of everything in blocks of half hours, and it becomes so much harder to give that time up to something non-work related.
So plan some time out of work and out of the house. Go explore a nearby town or go to the cinema. That way you won’t have to feel guilty, and can actually let your brain relax.
5. Are you moving the goalposts before you’ve even celebrated victory?
I’m the worst at this.
I set myself targets and the second I pass them that’s not good enough anymore. Or I think I only reached that target because it’s easy to reach.
Take the time to celebrate each goal you’ve met. Otherwise you’re not taking ownership of that victory. That achievement came from you and you alone, and when you set it you thought achieving it would be amazing.
So next time you feel down or you’re in a slump, take the time to reflect and ask yourself these questions. Because the first step to absolutely crushing imposter syndrome is realising it’s taken hold of you. Then, you can totally tell it where to go.