As a talent acquisition coordinator at Perficient, I work hard to pursue my personal and professional goals in the office and beyond. However, like many of us, occasionally I confront self-doubt. Just as I start to feel confident, the doubt monster creeps in uninvited. In the past, my rendezvous with these emotions left me disheartened and questioning my worth. With practice, I’ve learned to turn a shoulder and toss my hair to such intrusive thoughts. For those of you who didn’t realize your concerns and fears about your professional value had a name, allow me to introduce our honored guest. Put your hands together for Impostor Syndrome.
Meet Your Fiend: Impostor Syndrome
Impostor Syndrome is the unfounded and untrue perception that we are incompetent. Lou Solomon, founder of Interact Authentically, writes on Impostor Syndrome, and even spoke on the topic at a TedTalk. According to Solomon, Impostor Syndrome manifests itself through four primary symptoms: anxiety, perfectionism, self-doubt, and fear of failure. It’s as if we have attended a concert and fear the bouncer is going to force us out at any minute. The kicker in this analogy is that we have no reason to feel anxious because we bought our over-priced tickets like everyone else. Impostor Syndrome typically plagues high achievers, is more frequently experienced by women than men, and is most common among millennials. To all of the high-achieving millennial women reading this – stay with me because you can overcome it.
5 Ways to Slay Impostor Syndrome
Perhaps what’s most challenging about Impostor Syndrome is that it hinders us from what we could achieve. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: we believe we aren’t deserving, so we don’t take as many risks, and thus we miss out on opportunities and rewards. Your professional success literally depends on you overcoming your imposter syndrome. Luckily, there are many strategies to help you on your journey. Consider these 5 suggestions:
Generally speaking, others want you to succeed.
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When facing self-doubt, it is important to remember that others want you to do well just as much as you do. For example, when you attend a concert, you don’t pray it’s a disappointment. You have invested your time, money, and energy into being present for the performance. You want your musical heroes to do well! Similarly, those in leadership roles should want you to succeed. When attending a job interview, ask yourself how you can help fill the company’s needs. Focus less on yourself and your fears, and consider how your experience can solve company challenges.
Challenge yourself every day.
Learn to lean into discomfort. Find small ways each day to put yourself out there. The more opportunities you take, the higher your probability of success becomes. Allow yourself to be ok with rejections and mistakes. Embrace and accept your fears to achieve more than you believed possible. Find small ways to get out of your comfort zone. Coincidentally, the more you get out of your comfort zone, the more comfortable it becomes!
Try repeating daily affirmations.
Try envisioning your success and intentionally thinking about your strengths. Write down your past achievements and where you shine. Many blogs and sites provide daily thought emails. My colleague at Perficient introduced me to one such site, called Tiny Spells. Each day, I receive an inspirational email that challenges me to put my best foot forward! It is a great way to practice replacing doubt with confidence.
Remember, we are all human.
While it is important to seek out mentorship, remind yourself that authority figures and mentors are human too. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s easy to idolize celebrities, experts, or authority figures. While we can learn a lot from these role models, don’t discount your own instinct and opinions. Find a balance between accepting feedback while allowing yourself to consider your own take.
Question your intrusive thoughts.
Intrusive thoughts are characterized as the typically negative beliefs that interrupt your zen. These head voices state, “I’m a failure” or, “I don’t deserve my achievements.” When you encounter an intrusive thought, ask yourself, “Where is the evidence that this information is true?” and “If there is truth to it, is this information useful?” Filtering your thoughts and shutting down those that are negative can be difficult, but it is essential to feeling truly confident.
Advice from Perficient Employees
The following quotes come from anonymous Perficient employees who wanted to share their strategies to overcome imposter syndrome. Take a look at how they stay confident!
I have been successful in life and my career accomplishments, but there have always been doubts. I wonder “Did I really earn this?” or “what makes me better suited than the next person?” However, when I notice self-doubt creeping in, I use my past accomplishments to ignore it; I haven’t gotten where I am today by luck — my accomplishments are a result of me as a whole.
I have certainly held myself back due to a lack of confidence and fear that I won’t be as good as the next person. One thing I tell myself is that “there are always going to be people with more experience than you if you never try to get the experience.” You have to start somewhere.
Comparing yourself to others is so overrated! Be proud of where you are and what you’ve accomplished so far. You never know when someone might be looking at you thinking “#goals”
Despite struggling with impostor syndrome, I have found success. I once thought it was a faux pas to ask for a promotion. However, I got to the point where I felt that I deserved one. Another side of me would say, if you deserved one, you would get one without asking. To overcome this, I gathered data about where I was, where I should be, and why I feel I should be there, having the information made it even more clear that I deserved promotion. When presenting the information to management, they were in agreement as well. The difference there is I had to see the hard information myself in order to change my own mindset.
Practice Self-Compassion and Self-Confidence
It is all too easy to compare ourselves to others. While it is true that you have the same number of hours in a day as Oprah, this isn’t to say she’s never looked in a mirror and doubted herself. The difference is that she tamed her doubts and took chances anyway. To be successful in anything, you must be your own biggest cheerleader. You must believe in yourself more than seems rational and dream wilder than you deem necessary. Be ready to refute the doubts of others who don’t see your future as brightly you do. Remember – it is your future, not theirs. Nurture and protect it.
What do you think? How do you slay impostor syndrome to achieve your dreams? Let us know what great strategies you’ve discovered.