FIGHTING IMPOSTER SYNDROME
Imposter Syndrome is a belief that you are inadequate, that you are wasting other people’s time.
Symptoms include self-doubt and fear of judgement or rejection. When the Imposter Syndrome has you, you are prone to self defeating thoughts such as:
“Who am I to be a designer/travel entrepreneur/circus acrobat/conference speaker?”
“These folks won’t take me seriously. I’ve only been doing this for 6 months.”
“Why would they sit down for coffee with me? They’re super accomplished.”
A full-blown case of Imposter Syndrome can stop you in your tracks. We’ve all had it. It arrives as a whisper and by bedtime you’ve convinced yourself you’re not good enough.
Yet, it’s when we go after our most important work — walking the meandering path of self-discovery, in pursuit of our career dreams — that we most need to overcome it.
It’s easily the most common fear that pops up for folks in the career change and entrepreneurship programs we run at Your Project X.
Here are 4 ways we’ve seen people successfully conquer it:
1. It’s not Voldemort. Give it a name.
Unlike Harry Potter’s nemesis, calling out this obstacle is an important step in taming it. Everyone has felt it. The highly successful writer Liz Gilbert described feeling like an imposter when she walked onstage with Oprah! I feel it every time I kick off a session I am facilitating — and that number is literally in the thousands now.
2. Do the work.
There’s far too common a myth that a career change or new venture needs to go from 0 to 60 in 5 seconds. Transformation takes time. Overcoming is about the small steps.
- Practice your new way of being. Say it out loud: “I am a travel journalist (a published author, a tech entrepreneur, insert your dream job here).”
- Draw it — visualize the world in which your dream is accomplished. Seeing your future fulfilled will be a huge boost to your confidence.
- Begin a conversation with someone you need not impress. Introduce yourself as the person you are transforming into: “Hi, I am a travel journalist.” Learn from their reaction. Maybe they have a question about what you do. Maybe they ask you about a specific issue and you don’t know the answer yet. Great, now you know two more ways to prepare for a future conversation.
3. Blaze your own path.
We tend to internalize the stories of famous, accomplished individuals we want to emulate (think Elon Musk, Oprah, Steve Jobs). There’s plenty of upside to having a hero / heroine. The challenge is when we start to internalize their paths as the only way to achieve our dreams. If you do have someone you compare your progress to, take a step back. Our progress is imperfect and unique. Identify the assumptions you are making about what it takes to get to where you want to go. Write them down. Which ones are truly necessary? Which ones merely mimic those of your heroine?
4. Find your tribe.
The plain truth is you won’t overcome Imposter Syndrome alone. Support is paramount. Find that community of nonjudgmental friends, colleagues, dreamers and doers. Meet with them weekly. Practice your pitches, your introductions, your conversations. Get feedback. Practice some more. This is what community is for. And if you can’t find one, reach out to me. I’ll be happy to lend an ear and help you come into your own . We can all overcome our Imposter Syndrome together!