This week’s blog is written by Simran Harichand, Strategy Intern at Hallam.
Let’s face it – many of us have felt like a fraud at some point in our careers.
Throughout the challenges and opportunities that we encounter at work, sometimes those taunting siren voices can creep in during our moments of doubt:
“I can’t believe I got that job (even though I’m totally qualified for it)”
“I just got promoted but do I deserve it? I mean, I’ve only worked in my current role for 5 years and tick every box of what a manager should be… Did they pick the right person?”
Or sometimes, just simply: “How on earth did I manage to blag that…?”
These thoughts make us feel anxious and overwhelmed and can quickly turn into self-sabotage if they’re not nipped in the bud. Imposter syndrome, in definition, refers to feeling inadequate and under-qualified – despite being evidently successful.
In a survey conducted in May 2021, 85% of UK adults claimed to feel incompetent at work. However, the big question is how can we overcome the imposter syndrome and succeed without feeling guilty for receiving what we deserve?
Whilst everyone deals with emotions differently, here are 5 tips that I’ve found can help fight the imposter syndrome.
Acknowledge your feelings
The key is to acknowledge that you feel like an imposter. When the cloud of doubt emerges, take a second to recognise it. Consider why it suddenly came up. Is it your first day at a new job or are you about to present in front of a new client? Identify your triggers and acknowledge them.
Remind yourself of all your skills
Do a quick check with yourself when you’re not struck down with feeling like a fraud. Write down the skills you’re good at, even the ones you think are not ‘good enough’ to be mentioned. Look at your CV, identify the transferable skills you possess and the occasions where you’re demonstrated them. Writing down things that are buried somewhere at the back of your mind can make them come alive.
Positively affirm yourself and change your perspective
As vain as that may sound, you need to remind yourself of the fact that you deserve to be where you are. An affirmation as small as ‘I’ve got this!’ can go a long way. Instead of thinking of all the reasons why you aren’t adequate, reframe your mind to think about all the reasons why you are. This will train your mind to fight any dubious thoughts and lead you towards success.
Celebrate all your successes
Big or small, success is success and you must celebrate them all. An excellent presentation to the client is as important as appreciation from your boss. While a ‘well done on this report’ may not justify a celebratory trip to the Bahamas (although any excuse, right?) it definitely does justify feeling good about yourself. Every time you celebrate your success, you will give yourself more reason to believe in your own abilities.
Speak to someone you trust
Sometimes other people are in a better position to help us than we are in to help ourselves. There is no shame in asking for help. Arrange a one-to-one meeting with your manager or a colleague and speak to them about how you feel, and they should be able to give you the much needed reminder of your worth. Remember, no one is perfect, but that does not take away from the fact that you’ve worked to be where you are and your success and skillset entitles you to sit at the table you’re feeling too guilty to be seated at.
But don’t just take my advice: I’ve asked my colleagues at Hallam to hear how they beat the self-doubt, too.
- “Imposter syndrome can be the absolute worst! To combat this, I try to either save or screenshot whenever anyone has given positive feedback or when something has gone well. Rather than being some kind of weird glory gallery, it just helps to remind me that maybe, just maybe, I’m not as crap as I think I am. It’s a good boost when you need it most!” Anna Murphy, Head of Marketing
- “Set yourself clear objectives for the week and take time to reflect on your day and think about what went well. Eventually you realise you’re better than you think. The next challenge then becomes keeping your ego in check!” Jon Martin, Technical Director
- “I was once told that it’s really only people who are high performing that get imposter syndrome. The very nature of it is that you’re good at what you do and your brain tries to trick you into thinking you’re not. So, by its very virtue, it proves itself wrong and I try to think about it that way.” Chris Bliss, Creative Designer
- And one of my absolutely favourite pieces of advice from Jack Brown, Head of Paid Media: “My favourite quote ever is that pretending you’re confident and actually being confident is exactly the same thing.”
What does all of this boil down to then? It boils down to the truth that everyone feels like an imposter at some point in their lives – the key is to rise above it and prove that little voice at the back of your mind wrong every so often.