It is important to identify and understand the signs of impostor syndrome early in one’s career, to avoid losing confidence and to become an empowered, valued and productive team member.
“According to a study conducted by UK career development agency, as much as a third of millennials suffer from Imposter Syndrome at work,” said Dr Gillian Mooney, from The Independent Institute of Education.
She said locally the situation is likely to be much the same, with a large number of young graduates who will be able to identify with a persistent fear of being “found out” or exposed as a “fraud” in the workplace.
“Impostor syndrome is commonly reported by recent graduates who are starting to formally work for the first time.
“While Impostor Syndrome is not a formal psychological diagnosis, the concept has been used since 1978 to describe people who have an ongoing fear of being uncovered as being a fraud, or persistently feeling that they are ‘phony’. So there is good news for those who have been experiencing these confidence-sapping feelings in the workplace.”
“There are many millions of people around the world who feel the same way, so you are not alone; and there are some solid ways in which you can rectify the situation.”
Dr Mooney added that a further characteristic of those ‘suffering’ from Impostor Syndrome is that they tend to struggle with internalising their achievements.
By taking the following action you can tackle ‘Imposter Syndrome’:
Acknowledge what you are dealing with
When these destructive thoughts and feelings emerge, recognise them as such. It will be easier to manage these feelings and thoughts once you know what they are.
Change your mental programming
Think about whether or not there is any real evidence for your feelings of inadequacy. Are all these feelings and thoughts just in your head? Actively rephrase your thoughts. Substitute ‘I don’t know anything’ for ‘I don’t know everything, but that is to be expected because I am still learning’. Nobody is ever expected to know it all.
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Pay attention to your achievements
Make a list of both your strengths and your weaknesses. Focus on the areas that you need to develop. Focus on how you can capitalise on your strengths. Keep a running list of tasks completed well, no matter how big or small.
Action is the antidote to despair. Don’t wallow in feeling of inadequacy or concern about your ability to handle your workload. Commit to being productive and completing one task after the other, putting one foot in front of the other. As your list of small victories grows, so will your confidence and feelings of being empowered.
Commit to lifelong learning
In our rapidly changing world of work, it is those who stay at the forefront of developments in their industry, and those who constantly update their skills who remain relevant and in high demand. Constantly growing and expanding on your fields of competence will ensure that your faith in your ability to make a real contribution in the workplace continues to grow.