5 Simple Habits to Overcome Imposter Syndrome at Work
Imposter syndrome at work – this inner feeling of self-doubt on your abilities and competence despite the deserved, visible, and recognized success.
Do you know that feeling of imposter syndrome at work? If yes, and this is likely, you surely aren't an imposter. The thing is, if you were an imposter, you would be very much aware of it and would do it with intention. And be rest assured, you are not alone with this feeling. I surely have felt it many times. So have many of my highly capable, talented, and successful friends. And that is especially true for the ladies.
If you feel imposter syndrome at work, be rest assured, you are not alone with this feeling.
Feeling imposter syndrome at work is experienced around the globe, by all ages and sexes. However, it is more likely and intense when you operate in an environment in which you are a minority. That's why women in high-powered and male-dominated work environments often have this unpleasant experience of self-doubt. This is despite being equally educated and experienced to their peers.
I am no stranger to this. I felt like an imposter in the face of having several engineering degrees, including a PhD, which makes me much more qualified than the majority of my engineering peers. This continued even though I have been promoted every two years on average and have achieved respect and praise from my colleagues. Often, I attributed my achievements to luck, good timing, and... being a woman in an engineering environment. And to be honest, the popular discussion on diversity hires and quota had not helped.
Gladly, I only had it mildly and it was often of advantage to me because it allowed me to put in the work to succeed. And during the past two years, I have not felt it anymore. However, to others, it can be demotivating and paralyzing.
Therefore, I would like to share 5 simple habits to overcome imposter syndrome at work that can help you greatly.
How to Deal with Imposter Syndrome at Work with 5 Simple Habits
1. Feeling vs Fact of Imposter Syndrome at Work
You might think you are the biggest con artist, and you will be found out soon in work by your colleagues. But recognize that this is only the feeling of imposter syndrome at work. It is not reality.
Here are some facts for you.
Your boss and hiring manager who hired and promoted you are smart, experienced, and capable professionals. They have seen a lot in their career, and they cut easily through the nonsense. Also, they don’t have time and patience for it. You got the job because you are the right person for it.
Similar things are true for your co-worker’s praise for your work and continued support. Your colleagues also have demanding work requirements and they will want to work with people who are great professionals with high-quality work.
Don’t doubt their intelligence. All the praise and success are based on your talent, experience, and professionalism.
2. Be Clear on the Scope of Your Role at Work
One symptom of imposter syndrome in work is an unrealistic expectation of yourself and your capabilities. Chances are that what you think you should be capable of in your job would fit several different descriptions of job roles.
Sure, stretching your abilities is important for development and growth – key ingredients for success in your work. But so is focus too. Understand and be clear on what your responsibilities are and what is not part of your job description. Remember, it is okay that you cannot do everything. And often it is best to have quality in your work abilities over quantity.
3. Visualize Your Successes and Remind Yourself Often
Shift your focus on all the accomplishments you have already achieved. Visualize it by creating a success board that contains all your achievements and placing it strategically in your space to remind yourself regularly. It is proof of all your hard work paying off big time.
You earned your place – your success is proof of it.
4. Positive Self-Talk Always
Awareness of the situation is the first step. You might hear this little nagging voice in your head explaining away your success with “luck” and “good timing”. First, recognize that this does not reflect your objective reality.
It is also likely that your inner saboteur will give you a replay of the same thoughts over and over. Make a list of these thoughts and create a positive statement for each reflecting on your achievements and the hard work you put in.
Now start a one-sided sided argument with yourself which always has a positive spin and is fact-based on your hard work and achievements.
5. Take Ownership of your Accomplishments
On a positive note, that you deal with imposter syndrome at work shows that you care about your work. It was also discussed above that your position in work is no accident and is based on your abilities. There is no need to explain it away as “luck” or “good timing” – neither to others nor yourself.
Sometimes you must change your behavior first before the feeling changes. So, you shouldn’t wait until you feel a high level of confidence before sharing your successes with others.
Now own your success and talk about it.
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