5 Things To Keep In Mind When Experiencing Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome

By Julie Winsel

I started a new job three months ago. Everything about it was new to me: the industry, the responsibilities, and the goals of the position. In those three months, I have been trained, I have been active and successful in my job, and I have royally screwed up.

The screw ups are what trip me up every time. I immediately get flashbacks to my old job where I felt like I was stumbling and overwhelmed, like a failure. They create an immediate and powerful mental block where I feel like it would be best if I just snuck out and never came back.

Imposter Syndrome, which is the feeling that people are going to figure out that you’re faking your abilities and have no idea what you’re doing, impacts me regularly. I’m constantly afraid that my coworkers and boss are going to realize that I’ve been flubbing my way through and haven’t done anything significant since I started. I sit waiting for the moment that they’re going to come up to me and tell me to leave.

The problem with Imposter Syndrome is that it keeps you from realizing your successes and blinds you to what you’ve already accomplished or learned. It makes you feel like you’ve been running around in the dark and it’s only a matter of time until you make a mistake large enough that your secret will be revealed.

When you’re feeling the heat of Imposter Syndrome, you must acknowledge the power and ability you already have.

Recognize that you wouldn’t be here if they hadn’t hired you.

If your Imposter Syndrome boils up at work, remember that you were hired into this position. You applied, interviewed, and were selected from a pool of applicants as the best fit for this position. They (the experts about your position and what they needed to hire for) wouldn’t have selected you unless you were the number one choice and they felt you would succeed in the position. The hiring team had confidence in you and your ability to do the job before you even started – ride that confidence and trust that they knew what they were getting themselves into.

Recognize what you already know.

Make a list of your job’s responsibilities and tasks. Rate each one on a scale from one to four:

  • One – you have no idea what this is or how to do it
  • Two – you know a little bit about this, but aren’t quite sure
  • Three – you have a good grasp on this, but still might have questions when you get into it
  • Four – you know how to do this task and are confident in completing it without any help

Odds are you’ve rated quite a few things with fours. Sure, there are probably some that are rated with twos or threes, but your ones are probably pretty few and far between. Celebrate the fact that you know a lot about what you’re doing!

Now look at where the gaps are. What will it take to turn these into four-rated tasks? For the three-rated tasks, it may just be a matter of doing the tasks and asking the right questions when you hit roadblocks. For the two-rated and the one-rated, reach out to someone who knows the task and where it fits within your position. It could be that the training for this is still upcoming or that task is no longer relevant.

To prevent feeling like you’re going to forget any new training you receive, know your learning style. Do you need to write things down? Do you learn by doing? Recognize this and act accordingly so that you don’t need to ask for training to be repeated.

Do something that has direct results.

Do you have a bunch of emails in your inbox that need quick responses? Do you have a pile of papers that just need to be filed? Do something that will immediately be productive and give you some relief to have it done.

This will also make you feel helpful. The people receiving those emails will have the answers to their questions and can move on to their next task. Filing those papers will ensure that the next person who goes for that file will have all the information they need.

These productive things can be done in your personal life as well (need to do a load of dishes?) or a task that helps you in your future career aspirations (joining a group on LinkedIn, etc.). Getting a simple task done will give you at least one success under your belt. Carry this momentum onto a bigger task.

Continue to ask questions when you don’t understand something.

Instead of sitting there feeling like a loser, break the Imposter Syndrome cycle by asking questions and also asking if there are better ways you can do something. Unless the people you’re asking are absolute jerks, they’ll welcome your question and take the time to make sure you fully understand the answer.

Remember that your coworkers and supervisors want you to succeed and be an effective employee. If you mess up, then their day is affected and they’re left with a fire to put out. So it benefits them to make sure that you know what you’re doing and are doing it well. You’re not being annoying – you’re taking the steps to ensure that there are no fires in the first place.

If you do mess up (which is inevitable), own it and commit to learning from the mistake. Just think, “Well, I did that and it sucked. But at least I know not to do that again.” Write it down if you need to. Definitely ask questions to curb preventable mistakes, but continue to learn when you mess up anyway.

Remember what you have already accomplished.

You have survived everything you have faced so far. You’ve made it through your education and previous jobs (even if you’ve quit previous positions) – you’ve accomplished so much already.

Your new challenge is no different. Remember that you’re still learning and no one expects you to know everything. Even if you’ve been in the same job for years, it is impossible to know everything and mistakes will still happen. But guess what? You’ve learned lessons your whole life and you will continue learning.

Take the skills you already have into your new challenges and walk with the confidence that you already have successes and lessons learned behind you.

The Imposter Syndrome feels are very real and can be disarming. Once those doubting thoughts start creeping in, it can be hard to push past them and remember that you are where you’re supposed to be. By recognizing what you’ve already accomplished and committing to lifelong learning, you can break down the barrier that Imposter Syndrome can build.

The Imposter Syndrome is lying: you have already been successful, and you are worthy of your current challenge.

Julie is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty On Tap. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, please click HERE.

{featured image via pexels}