How to Overcome Impostor Syndrome in Your Career
“No matter what we’ve done, there comes a point when you think; how did I get here? When are they going to discover that I am, in fact, a fraud and take everything away from me?” – Tom Hanks
“Every time I took a test, I was sure that it had gone badly. And every time I didn’t embarrass myself – or even excelled – I believed that I had fooled everyone yet again. One day soon, the jig would be up.” – Sheryl Sandberg
“I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’” – Maya Angelou
If you ever find yourself questioning your ability and worth, you’re in good company. Tom Hanks, Sheryl Sandberg, and Maya Angelou are part of a long list of wildly successful people who have experienced the phenomenon known as impostor syndrome.
Simply put, impostor syndrome is your mind trying to convince you not even to try, because you’ll surely fail. It’s all lies – a biomechanical form of self-preservation in the face of a challenge.
Impostor syndrome is not selective. Tom Hanks is one of the most recognizable names in Hollywood; Sheryl Sandberg is the Chief Operating Officer of Meta (AKA Facebook and Instagram, only the biggest global social media platforms in the world); and Maya Angelou changed the world with her writing and activism. These are three people whose minds told lies of incompetency – three people who accomplished more than they could have ever imagined. Aside from impostor syndrome, they have another thing in common: they kept going.
In the face of adversity and self-doubt, that’s all we can ever do. Keep going. Keep trying. Keep working toward our goals, never stopping to allow false perceptions of inadequacy to slow us down.
We know, we know. “Easier said than done,” and all. Keep reading for some real talk on how to keep impostor syndrome from slowing you down.
A Guide to Seeing Through the Lies
6 TIPS FOR OVERCOMING IMPOSTOR SYNDROME
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1. Be prepared.
Starting a new job? Set aside time in the week before starting to brush up on your skills, do some reading, listen to podcasts, and talk to people you know in the industry. The best way to truly feel like you know what you’re doing is to be prepared.
2. Let go of perfectionism.
Perfectionism is the enemy of productivity, success, and self-esteem. In short? We all know that nothing and no one is perfect, so stop trying to chase perfection! There comes a time to leave well enough alone and press forward, striving to be a little bit better each day. Aim for growth over perfection and you’ll show up with excellence.
3. Change your mindset.
4. Speak it out
Be honest about how you’re feeling! Odds are, someone you know experiences the same thing and will be able to offer you support.
5. Affirm your accomplishments
Remind yourself what you’re capable of. Write down your achievements to look back on if you start to feel inadequate.
6. When all else fails, remember: you aren’t alone
In a 2022 survey, Moneypenny found that 1 in 3 people experience impostor syndrome. That’s just over 33% of all people. 33% of the current population is 2.6 billion people. Odds are, one of those people is someone you know. Or, someone you know knows one of those people. This could go on and on, but the point is: you are not alone. The world is full of people doubting themselves, but it’s also full of incredible people who accomplish incredible things. Tom Hanks, Sheryl Sandberg, and Maya Angelou are three of those incredible people, and you can be too.