According to a study conducted by the International journal of behavioural science, researchers believe that up to 70% of people have suffered from imposter syndrome at some point in their career. Imposter syndrome is a term used to describe people who can feel that they don't deserve their accomplishments, aren't good enough or feel like a fraud.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Kate Winslet and Denzel Washington are just a few examples of people who have openly admitted to "feeling like a fraud" at points in their careers and having worked with a variety of coaches, entrepreneurs and athletes, I've also noticed many of them wrestle with self-esteem and their sense of achievement on their road to success.
Below are my top 5 ways to break free from 'imposter syndrome'
1. Stop being a perfectionist
Overcoming 'imposter syndrome' starts with self-acceptance. Recognising that there is no such thing as 'perfect' helps you to let go of setting a high bar for yourself and inspires you to take your foot off the brakes and get things going. When we learn to let go of a need to 'be the best' we put ourselves in a stronger position to 'give our best' which can stop us from putting pressure on ourselves to perform in a way which may be beyond our grasp. Resetting your standards to a realistic level helps you to feel a sense of accomplishment when you reach your goals which can boost your confidence and help you to impact the lives of others in a way that is authentic and relatable. When you reframe 'perfectionism' with a desire to 'offer value' you're able to point your energy in the right direction.
2. Name it and tame it
Self-doubt can be a common way that people hold themselves back from reaching their full potential. Choosing to enhance your level of self-awareness is the most powerful way to delve into the root cause of your beliefs. Are you hooking back to a time in your life that no longer exists? Are you relating to an outdated identity which no longer reflects who you are or where you are at in your life? Do your old beliefs still hold true? Learning to befriend your inner critic and ditching beliefs which no longer relate to who you are can help you to re-frame them with ones which are more supportive, for example 'I am proud of myself for trying' 'I have outgrown that version of my identity and have come a long way since then' or 'I am doing the best I can'. Consciously observing your thought patterns with activities such as mindfulness or choosing to work with an NLP practitioner are great ways that you can work on taming your mind-set traps to create more positive shifts in your life.
3. Be you
There is no person you can be other than you and when you stay true to who you are its much easier for you to remain authentic. When you are a genuine version of yourself you allow others to see and connect with the real you and move away from any fears of 'being found out'. If you aren't walking your talk and your words aren't matching your behaviours others can sense it which can be a major turn off. When you are authentic, you remain congruent with others perceptions of you which can build genuine trust and likability and it is often when people are authentic that they attract success. Making a list of some qualities that describe your personality and considering what images reflect who you are, are great ways for you to get some clarity on what makes you, you!
4. Stop comparing yourself to others
In today's social media crazed generation it can be easy to fall into a trap of comparing your successes to others which can crush your sense of self-worth. Comparing yourself to others can cause you to waste precious energy focusing your attention on other people's lives instead of focusing on your own. Keeping in mind that you're walking your own path and that you hold your own unique set of talents helps you to let go of feeling 'less than'. Writing a list of your individual talents and strengths and keeping it on your mirror is a great way to re-affirm your qualities and respect your experience, as well as this you can also network with others who have already achieved what you have and ask them what they did to get to where you aspire to be.
5. Keep a success log
When you are going after your dreams it may be easy to forget about all of the things that you have already accomplished when focusing on the end goal, or you may brush off your successes as 'no big deal' and attribute it to 'luck'. Choosing to minimise your successes or refusing to celebrate them can be detrimental to your self-esteem and so keeping a log of your accomplishments can be a great way for you to reflect on your key achievements and keep them at the forefront of your mind. Writing a list, keeping notes, emails or letters from colleagues, clients or loved ones who have said nice things to you alongside photos of your proudest moments are great ways to reinforce your successes and build up your confidence.
It's normal to experience moments of 'imposter syndrome' when you are taking on challenges, stretching beyond your comfort zone and going after your dreams but when you refuse to allow doubt to dictate your choices you're able to accomplish more than you may have thought possible which can open up new doors of opportunity.