4 Tips for Overcoming Imposter Syndrome at Work
Have you ever felt like a fraud? Maybe you experienced anxiety someone would “find you out” if you didn’t know something. It can happen to anyone, anytime, and anywhere – whether you’re in your first job or have been in the workforce for decades. When you feel like an imposter, you may self-sabotage your success without even realizing it by obsessing over minor mistakes or working twice as hard to prove that you’re successful. These feelings are known as Imposter Syndrome and experiencing it without strategies to get past these emotions can negatively impact your ability to grow and thrive in your career.
Try these four strategies to help overcome those destructive feelings and become a better version of yourself at work and in life.
Lean into Positivity
For some people, it’s common to underplay their achievements, attributing success to luck or good timing. While a degree of humility is admirable, it can hurt more than help if they are already fostering feelings of self-doubt. For instance, if you have been working on a new project at work and have exceeded your expectations, be sure to let your coworkers know that you are proud of your accomplishments rather than putting yourself down or dismissing them as unimportant.
One way to help you become more positive is by sharing your experience with others. For example, if you write a blog post on LinkedIn about your new job, consider mentioning what you learned during the hiring process. Did you discover that you are resilient or the importance of soft skills? Whatever it was, don’t keep it to yourself — you never know who you will influence. The more you put yourself out there, the more people will see you as a thought leader in your industry.
Celebrate Your Wins
Another way to combat imposter syndrome is by celebrating all your wins – no matter how large or small they might be. Reframe self-promotion as an exchange of value and self-enthusiasm and do it passionately. Keeping a record of your wins can help you stay motivated. Create a table with three columns: one for listing types of wins, another for descriptions of what actions you completed, and another for dates. Ask yourself: “What have I done that makes me feel capable?” and “If my younger self could see my life now, what would she be proud of?” People with a positive sense of accomplishment feel more hopeful about the future; those with imposter syndrome forget their achievements and can combat this by remembering their strengths.
When we recognize our accomplishments, we need to celebrate them somehow. We could buy a small reward for ourselves or do something for enjoyment. The celebration doesn’t have to be huge, but it should matter to you. By doing this, our brains release the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin—associated with motivation and happiness—and help us accomplish even more.
Be Mindful of and Limit Your Social Media Usage
Social media can be helpful and harmful when dealing with Imposter Syndrome. By engaging with popular role models on sites such as LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, you can learn from people who have succeeded in your field. You can also use these tools to research people you admire and learn about how their career paths led them to where they are currently. When choosing your role models online, be sure to be intentional about who you choose; not everyone has to be an “influencer” – you may have people who can already help in your network.
For all the positive impacts of social media providing access on how to cope with Imposter Syndrome, it can also contribute to feelings of inadequacy or poor self-esteem. By practicing self-awareness as you scroll through your feeds, you can avoid the potential drawbacks of the internet. Unfollow people who bring you down and focus on the educational or inspirational content that feeds your best self and reminds you to express gratitude for your wins, give yourself grace, and visualize the future you want.
Strategize Your Goals
Sometimes you feel like a fraud, and you want to prove yourself. You may try to prove yourself by setting unrealistic goals to deadlines quickly. There is nothing wrong with setting goals, but you should also strategically plan how you will reach them is tempting when you’re feeling this way. Feeling overwhelmed is a familiar feeling among people who try to manage their imposter syndrome this way. Attempting to complete so much that everything loses its meaning and value, and you won’t be able to execute your objective effectively.
Break your goals into smaller, more manageable components and focus on one thing at a time. If you stay focused and consistent, you’ll get much further than if you tried to tackle everything at once. Block out your schedule for the week, making sure to devote time to your biggest priorities. Divide your day into smaller periods dedicated to secondary tasks (reading emails, editing, scheduling), and then reserve larger segments of your day exclusively for high-impact projects. By doing this, you can get a handle on what you need to do in the short and long term.
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome is a process – it won’t happen overnight, and it’s important to know that everyone’s approach to overcoming it will look different. There are many ways to do this but reflecting on what works for you and does not is essential in overcoming Imposter Syndrome. Implementing the strategies here will help you release some of the negativity, stress, and anxiety that might be holding you back in your career.
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