Have you ever started working at a new company or been given a promotion but thought you didn’t deserve the opportunity despite evidence showing you’re competent and appropriate for the role? Most people have, and that phenomenon is called imposter syndrome.
When people experience it, they feel like frauds and assume their favorable career circumstances are due to nothing more than luck instead of the talent they possess. Imposter syndrome can also show itself in various ways based on things like a person’s background and personality.
Fortunately, you can beat imposter syndrome and properly recognize your rightful success and the genuine reason for it by following a few steps.
1. Remember That Your Superiors Are Professionals
To get where you are today, you had to impress the people who had the power to advance your career, whether by offering you an initial position or a promotion after you worked there for a while.
Those people likely screened dozens and maybe even hundreds of other applicants before ultimately choosing you. They might have made the decision after noticing some career-advancing work habits, such as punctuality and accuracy, or after you excelled during a difficult and time-sensitive project.
It’s likely that several individuals read your resume, cover letter and any other information provided. They agreed you were the right person for the job, and you should keep that in mind when doubting yourself. The individuals who facilitated your success knew the kinds of qualities they wanted their workers to have, and they concluded that you showed more of them than other candidates.
2. Understand the Balance Between Talent and Effort
Some people feel like imposters at work because they get upset by not being able to pick up new skills naturally and with near-immediate fluency. You might feel that way if you’ve always been a high achiever and were the type of kid who got straight As in school. But at work, it may not be so easy, even if you find a job you love. That’s because almost all careers require you to learn things that are entirely unlike the tasks you’ve done before.
So, instead of letting yourself feel like you don’t belong at work because you’re not catching on as quickly as you expect, think about how all well-done work requires both the talent you have plus the willingness to work hard and put in the necessary effort. You can’t only have talent or effort. Both are necessary.
3. Figure out Why You Lack Self-Confidence
One of the essential steps in allowing yourself to accept success is to determine the reason why you don’t feel confident enough to know you deserve good things at work.
Maybe it’s because you’ve spent years working at companies in situations where you weren’t paid enough or valued as a person. Perhaps it’s because your parents always accused you of lacking potential, and you’re not around enough people who uplift you as an adult.
The things that wreak havoc on your confidence can lead to tiredness and fatigue that affect your performance at work and elsewhere, especially if they prevent you from getting high-quality sleep.
Once you understand the reason behind your shaky confidence, it’ll be possible to target the cause and change your thinking.
4. Tell Someone How You’re Feeling
Many people struggle with feelings of ineptitude in silence because they believe that no one else could relate to those emotions and that other people might look down on them for confiding. However, the reality is that what you feel is not unique, and you’ll probably feel relieved to hear another person say they’ve dealt with something similar.
Before disclosing your feelings, make sure you’re interacting with someone you trust and a person who’s not likely to gossip about what you’ve said to everyone else in the office. Also, aim to have this conversation outside of work in an environment that makes you both feel comfortable, such as a coffee shop.
5. Use More Assertive Language
After analyzing it carefully, people often discover that the language they use furthers their self-doubt. If you often start sentences with “I’m not sure if this is a valid thought, but…” that’s a sign that you don’t believe in yourself enough. The words “I’m not sure” reveal that you started doubting before uttering the words.
When you take care to stop saying things that indicate inner weakness, your self-confidence should grow, and others will take you more seriously than they did before.
Success Came to You for Good Reasons
Besides trying these actionable strategies, always remind yourself that you have numerous traits and skills that made success happen. You’re not a fraud, but someone who had the characteristics to fit the situation — and you deserve happiness in your career and otherwise.
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