How to overcome imposter syndrome
“I have no clue what I’m doing and everyone is soon going to know! I don’t deserve to be here. I only got the job because my friend recommended me and I interview well.”
Does this sound familiar? It’s possible that while you’re navigating the new job (which you are totally qualified for!) you might also be experiencing impostor syndrome. If this is you, you are not alone. A recent study found that 62% of UK adults experience imposter syndrome at work
People with imposter syndrome feel inadequate, dismiss their achievements and are overly critical of themselves. The majority of the time, they don’t have a real understanding of how competent they actually are, because their mind believes that they are a fraud.
Below, we have shared the best remedies for this destructive syndrome to help you gain the confidence you need to be successful in your job.
Remedy 1: Give yourself a reality check
The first step to combatting imposter syndrome is to pay attention to your negative thoughts. You know, the ones where you assume that your co-workers think you’re clueless and interpret their every frown or lack of lunch invitations as confirmation.
When you start thinking these thoughts, it’s important to recognise it as a thought, NOT a fact. Instead of getting sucked into a negative thought overload, make a self-affirming statement. An example of this could be “I am having this thought because I am not feeling so confident of myself. The reality is that I have a lot of experience and know what I’m doing. I also put a lot of effort into my work.”
Our emotional state also affects our perception. If you’re anxious about a tight deadline or a challenging project, your go-to emotion might be anxiety and self-doubt. It’s important to accurately observe your emotions and triggers so you know the appropriate coping mechanisms to use. If you are anxious about the project, remind yourself that your anxiety may trick you to believe that you are a fraud but you are not.
Remedy 2: Keep track of your strengths and accomplishments
It’s easy to stay so focused on your to-do list, overflowing inbox, mistakes, and weaknesses that you neglect to focus on the things you are great at!
Try making another list, one that lists all of the skills and accomplishments that make you uniquely qualified for your job, so it’s at the top of your mind when you’re having a bad day.
Consider creating a vision board with goals and a list of what makes you different than your colleagues. By focusing on small goals and celebrating your uniqueness early in your career, you’ll have a greater awareness of what you want to achieve and what makes you special.
Another way to protect yourself against those negative thoughts is to keep a separate folder in your inbox where you save any positive feedback you’ve received from colleagues, managers and clients.
Not only will this help you to see a pattern where you are succeeding, but it can help you to identify where you may need to focus on developing within your role.
Remedy 3: Create a support network at work
The worst thing that people with imposter syndrome can do is to isolate themselves from receiving accurate and positive feedback from other people.
Work hard to build relationships with your colleagues, so you have people to go to lunch with and lean on for support, especially if you are navigating being the newbie. They can often help you to normalise your experiences and reassure you that what you are thinking about yourself isn’t accurate.
Another relationship you’ll want to nurture is the one with your manager. Don’t wait for a performance review to get their assessment of your work. Instead, make a point of asking for feedback on work you have done well and ask for pointers on what you could maybe improve on.
When you're starting a new job or a new career, it's expected that you don't know everything. Managers very much appreciate someone who is inquisitive, wants to grow and asks good questions.
Once you’ve built a trusted network, you won’t be afraid to ask your colleagues if you’re unsure on how to tackle a piece of work. Instead of getting stuck in feeling like an imposter, ask for help if you are not sure what to do.
Don’t forget - you’ve got this!