How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome at Work

How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome at Work - Style Nine to Five

Do you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing at work? Do you feel like it’s only a matter of time before other people notice that you’re unqualified to succeed in your role? You’re not alone! This is a completely normal feeling that nearly everyone experiences at some point or another along their career journey.

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome can be summed up as unfounded feelings of inadequacy, almost like you somehow landed yourself in a position you don’t belong in. Like you’re a fraud and the clock is ticking until someone exposes you as someone who shouldn’t be there.

Having imposter syndrome can make you feel like the only reason you hold your current position is because someone made a mistake. It is an awful feeling and can hold you back from reaching your full potential because you might feel like you don’t deserve to have your role or that you don’t deserve to succeed. Imposter syndrome also ends up entangling itself in so many other career aspects, from performance, to knowing your worth, to reaching your goals.

How Does Imposter Syndrome Impact your Career?

Before we get into solutions, let’s first discuss the negative impact of imposter syndrome and why it is so important to look out for.

Firstly, imposter syndrome can prevent us from pursuing our dream job, or even the stepping stones to get us there. If you feel like you don’t deserve the job you’re in, you certainly won’t ever feel like you deserve to move up. This can lead you to stay stuck in a job you don’t enjoy, or staying in a job long after you’ve outgrown it. This can result in resentment and overall unhappiness both within our job and extending into our life outside work as well.

Have you heard of the psychological phenomenon known as “self-fulfilling prophecy?” This is when you cause your own false presumptions or expectations to come true. How exactly does this happen? When you believe something so strongly, you end up acting in response to those beliefs, even when they aren’t true.

For example, let’s say you land your dream job as a fashion photographer for Vogue, but you believe you got there by some kind of mistake—this will ultimately be reflected in your actions. For example, if you’re lacking confidence in yourself,  you might end up underperforming because you believe you’re not good enough, leading those around you to only see the results of a poor job, and letting opportunities pass you by because you don’t have the confidence to go after them. This could end up leading to a poor reputation in the industry and even job insecurity.

A common issue with imposter syndrome is that it results in people accepting less than they are worth or never asking for more. When you have a low self-image and don’t believe in your own abilities, you can’t expect others to either. In turn, you value yourself a lot less and accept a lot less than you really deserve.

So, how can we push past these feelings, or better yet, try to avoid them altogether?

How Can You Overcome Imposter Syndrome?

1 – Build Confidence

A great place to start! If you’re having feelings of inadequacy, chances are it could just be imposter syndrome. There are a lot of people gunning for jobs these days, so if you made it into your role, you can probably assume it wasn’t by accident. Think back to the hard work you put in, the years you spent honing your skills and all the time you spent interviewing for your role. You may just be in need of a confidence boost to get you feeling more comfortable in your position. 

Confidence isn’t necessarily easy to gain, but so worth the work. Consider journaling, meditation, working with a therapist, or career coach to build your self-esteem and see your value. When you do, you’ll notice others will too.

2 – Accept Imperfection

Imposter syndrome is often tied in with a perfectionist personality and being a high achiever. These personality traits often never feel like their best is enough. The truth is, no one is perfect and we all have areas we can improve on. Learn to accept your flaws and recognize that your best is actually great! Remember that nobody is perfect and everyone has their moments of insecurity along their career journey. Giving yourself permission to just do your best can have a huge impact in reducing the amount of pressure you put on yourself. When you’re not focused on your flaws, you’ll have a lot more time and energy to focus on putting your best work forward instead.

3 – Communicate with Your Boss

Don’t wait for a yearly performance review to find out how you are tracking in your position. Instead, request weekly, or monthly check-ins with your boss to confirm whether or not they are happy with the work you are doing. Not every boss is a strong leader, so sometimes we have to take the reins of our own destiny in our career by initiating those conversations ourselves. 

Keeping open lines of communication and transparency can help relieve feelings of uncertainty. Give your boss an opportunity to communicate any possible areas that could use improvement. Though it might be difficult to hear constructive criticism, once you have that direction, it will be so much easier for you to improve those areas. Your boss will also likely appreciate your initiative and your eagerness for self-improvement. Creating that line of communication also opens the door to ask for more support, or find out if your company can offer any courses to upgrade your skills in the areas you are looking to improve on.

A few steps towards confidence and validating your performance go a long way in easing imposter syndrome.  You can get clear idea of your areas for improvement, or maybe rest easy that you are exactly where you’re meant to be.

Do you experience feelings of inadequacy in your career or feel like you don’t deserve your job? Consider booking a Virtual Career Meeting with Style Nine to Five Founder, Christie Lohr where you can work together to create a career game-plan that fills you with confidence and excitement.

Sheila O’Neill is a creative, innovative and inspiring storyteller with a background in fashion.

Feature Image: Adobe Stock