In spite of getting rave reviews from peers and bosses, do you ever feel like you are only pretending to be who people think you are? Well, you’re not alone. It is a common thing called the ‘impostor syndrome’ in a 1978 paper published by researchers Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes of Georgia State University.
We all do it to ourselves, wearing a mask of confidence when deep inside we can’t find the anchor to hold us in the rough seas of professional life. However, we don’t have to. Let’s look at the ways we can get past it and truly become the person we claim to be.
Set your definition of success
For some of us, success means knowing every little detail about our field of work. For others, it is about finding solutions to work problems without any outside help from anyone. But the one thing common here, as pointed out in a study by University of Salzburg, Austria, professors Dr. Mirjam Neureiter and Dr. Eva Traut-Mattausch, is that such definitions of success are unsustainable.
To get past this, you need to remind yourself that no one is perfect, and you have to give yourself the room to learn and improve at each step. What you really need in this situation is start changing yourself with positive self-talk each time. Start small by telling yourself that, “it’s ok to be imperfect as long as you are learning something new”, instead of thinking that you are surely going to falter.
Learn to self-validate your skills
If you’ve reached a certain position, you would not have been able to do so without having some skills and accomplishments under your belt. Learn to enjoy those. Make a list of those and share it with someone whom you trust. Tell yourself that you have what it takes to be in your position and that you have earned it. Joyce Roché, the first female African-American VP of Avon Cosmetics, in her book says that it was one of the best tools that she used to stay on track in her job. Use this list to fill the gaps in your own skill set and keep learning.
Fake it till you make it
Self-confidence is the key to getting past difficult times. Even if you feel like you’re not cut out for the job assigned to you, you have to pretend to be the right choice. However, you must ensure that if you feel under equipped, you make the effort to acquire the skills that are missing from your repertoire immediately. If you can fill the gaps in your skill set, then you are fully capable of filling any gaps in any difficult situation at work. If you still have doubts, just listen to what Prof. Amy Cuddy of Harvard Business School has to say on the matter.
Being successful is easier than feeling successful. There are many instances in life that can shake your confidence. We often do it to ourselves - change success goalposts, or our own definition of perfection in our career. But the important thing to remember is that we deserve and need to acknowledge our own achievements at different stages of our career. And once you start taking pride in your accomplishments, you’ll be able to see that you are doing fine and truly deserve to be in the position that you are in.