Have you ever experienced imposter syndrome at work? Maybe, even more importantly, do you even know what imposter syndrome is?
Imposter syndrome is a feeling of self-doubt related to work accomplishments. If you often feel at work that you don’t deserve to be there or if you feel like a fraud and you are tricking your colleagues that you are good at your work, and you fear that someone at work will soon find out, then this means you are experiencing imposter syndrome.
Imagine a situation where you were working on an important project, and you were highly successful in managing it, resulting in impressive outcomes. However, despite this tremendous success, you don’t feel like it was a genuine achievement. You might be thinking that it was merely a stroke of luck, and sooner or later, when you embark on a new project, there will inevitably be some kind of failure.
Furthermore, you grapple with a profound fear of failure, to the extent that even a minor mistake leaves you acutely sensitive. These feelings are characteristic signs of imposter syndrome. Individuals experiencing this syndrome often manifest various symptoms, including:
- Perfectionism: Striving for unattainable levels of perfection.
- Lack of confidence at work and burnout: Working excessively hard, leading to feelings of burnout and diminished self-assurance.
- Fear of disappointing your team or supervisor: Constantly worrying about letting your colleagues or superiors down.
- Setting impossibly high standards for yourself: Establishing unrealistic expectations that are difficult to meet.
- Self-doubt in your skills and competence: Continuously questioning your abilities and competence, even in areas where you excel.
- Crediting external factors, such as luck, for your success: Believing that external factors are responsible for your achievements, rather than acknowledging your own capabilities.
These symptoms collectively characterize imposter syndrome. Nowadays, as we all live in a fast-paced and ever-changing world, I can assure you that you are not alone in experiencing this. In fact, recent statistics indicate that approximately 62% of global employees grapple with these feelings. What’s even more intriguing is that imposter syndrome tends to be more prevalent at senior levels.
One crucial aspect of this topic is raising awareness around it and understanding that there are others who go through the same experiences.
I vividly recall my own experience, where for the longest time, I believed that feelings of being a fraud or simply lucky to be where I was, were entirely normal. Even when I achieved significant milestones at work, no amount of positive feedback or accolades seemed to dispel that persistent sense of luckiness. Then, one day, I stumbled upon the concept of imposter syndrome, and suddenly, there was a name for what I was experiencing. It was a revelation to discover that I wasn’t alone in this struggle. As I embarked on my journey to overcome these feelings, I realized the importance of building awareness around imposter syndrome and breaking the silence. Speaking up about it can make all the difference.
So as I mentioned the good news is that there are ways to mitigate these feelings. I wanted to share 3 ways that helped me to overcome imposter syndrome:
- Acknowledge and Challenge Negative Self-Talk: Negative self-talk is something we all experience; however, the key distinction lies in how we manage it. Some individuals find strategies to navigate and counteract these negative thoughts, while others allow them to take control. Which group you want to belong to is entirely within your control. The first step in combating imposter syndrome is to recognize when those self-doubting thoughts arise. Pay attention to the negative self-talk that tells you that you’re not good enough or that your success is due to luck. Challenge these thoughts by seeking evidence of your competence and accomplishments. Keep a journal of your achievements and positive feedback to remind yourself of your capabilities.
- Set Realistic Goals and Expectations: It’s not uncommon to see people, including members of my own team, attempt to pile up an excessive number of tasks within a single day. I’ve been there myself. However, trying to cram three days’ worth of work into one day isn’t a practical approach, and it’s essential to recognize this behavior and address it.
Often, imposter syndrome arises from setting unrealistically high standards for yourself. Instead of striving for perfection, focus on setting achievable goals. Break down larger tasks into smaller, manageable steps. Celebrate your successes along the way, no matter how small they may seem. This can help boost your confidence and diminish feelings of inadequacy.
- Seek Support and Mentorship: Don’t hesitate to seek support from colleagues, mentors, or a therapist. Sharing your feelings of imposter syndrome with trusted individuals can be therapeutic and reassuring. Additionally, a mentor can provide guidance, share their own experiences, and offer valuable advice for navigating challenges in your career. Connecting with others who have experienced imposter syndrome can help you realize that it’s a common phenomenon and that you’re not alone in your struggles.
Remember that overcoming imposter syndrome is an ongoing process, and it’s normal to have moments of self-doubt. By implementing these strategies and practicing self-compassion, you can gradually build confidence and reduce the impact of imposter syndrome on your career.