Despite my three years of glittering performance records, every day I’m convinced that my manager is going to pull me into a meeting and let me go.
“I knew it,” this imaginary version of myself would say. “I knew I couldn’t fool them for too long.”
If this sounds familiar, you too might be struggling with impostor syndrome.
According to Psychology Today, impostor syndrome is a “psychological term referring to a pattern of behavior where people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.” This is what causes you to find imperfections in a project that just won an award, to chalk up your recent promotion to sheer luck, and to downplay your contributions to a group win.
Nearly 70% of people will suffer from impostor syndrome at least once in their lives, but for many people, it’s an everyday struggle. So how do you combat it? Here are three ways to check IS at the door and keep it from interfering with your career.
- Keep a work diary
This isn’t the Lisa Frank diary you kept hidden under your bed in middle school. A work diary can be any journal, Word doc, or Notes app page that highlights everything you finished that week at work. List the date that the project was completed, what specifically you accomplished, and what skills it took to make it happen.
Example: August 13th:This week I created a report to showcase the outcomes of our Facebook ad campaign. We sold 100+ sweaters from this campaign; 30% more than our original goal. In order to get these results, I had to use my writing, graphic design, and Facebook ad center skills to set up the ad. To create the report, I needed to use my analytical, math, Excel, and presentation skills.
This is an easy way to see your progress in a certain skill set and it provides concrete examples of your accomplishments to highlight when you petition for a promotion or raise.
- Become a LinkedIn stalker
Before you start messaging connections left and right, I use the term “stalk” lightly. Really, what you want to do is find job descriptions and profiles of individuals in your field or position. What kind of skills do they have listed? What terms or language do they use to describe their job and experiences? You might not think of yourself as a problem solver or a thought leader, but seeing these skills listed in a job description for a position similar to yours or listed in the profile for someone who has the same (or less) as you might help you assess your skills more fairly.
- Ask for feedback
After a long-term project or a collaboration with another team, ask for constructive criticism. This could look like a simple email or a formal request through an HR portal. Not only does asking for feedback show your teammates or manager that you’re focused on your growth, but it might reassure you of the good work you’ve completed. Remember: that impostor version of yourself might tell you that asking for feedback is like digging for compliments. Before you let this fear take hold, pause and focus on real reasons why feedback is helpful, and how asking for it is a healthy career habit.
Taking these three steps might not “cure” your impostor syndrome, but they could help you reframe your thinking. Think of all of your accomplishments as items in a backpack. No matter how many mistakes you make or how much time has passed, no one can take away your backpack, not even that little voice inside.
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