How not to feel like an imposter at work

How not to feel like an imposter at work

Posted byAlex Hepworth on

career growth

I don’t deserve this. I don’t belong here. I’m a fraud. They’re going to work it out soon.

Have you felt feelings of self-doubt like this at work? If so, you may be experiencing imposter syndrome.

And you’re not alone — three in five UK employees experience it.

In this article, we explain what imposter syndrome can look like, and four ways you can overcome it.

What are the signs of imposter syndrome?

Symptoms of imposter syndrome include:

  • Feeling like a fraud, and that you’ll be ‘found out’
  • Feeling undeserving of praise
  • Feeling that your successes are down to luck, and not your ability
  • Feeling like you’re not good enough.

At work, imposter syndrome might cause you to overwork or burnout because you’re trying to meet the impossibly high standards you’ve set for yourself. You might be less likely to go for a promotion or apply for a new role, because you think your successes are down to luck or that you don’t deserve to progress.

How to stop feeling like an imposter at work

The first step in tackling imposter syndrome is to acknowledge it. Recognise that, just because you think a certain way, it doesn’t mean that it’s true. Try to separate your feelings from facts and remember, there’s a reason your boss hired you, and you’re exactly where you deserve to be.

I understand that’s easier said than done though. So here’s some other ways you can overcome your imposter syndrome.

Be kind to yourself

Instead of constantly aiming for perfection, focus on the progress you’re making towards your goals. And if you don’t achieve a goal, or if something doesn’t work out how you’re expecting it to, don’t think of it as a failure, but as an opportunity to learn and grow.

So instead of;

‘I failed — I can’t do this.’

Try;

‘Things didn’t work out this time, but I’ll learn from this.’

I find it helpful to think of the bigger picture too. In the moment, it can be hard to see past your immediate, and easy to focus on worst case scenarios. But remember, nobody died, your friends and family love you. And you’re only human, so be kind to yourself.

Talk about it

Opening up about your feelings with people you trust can help normalise them — you’ll often find that the people around you, the ones you think are acing it, have the same feelings of self-doubt.

Remember, it’s perfectly OK to ask for help when you need it too. Don’t suffer in silence.

Be patient with yourself

As much as I’d like to tell you otherwise, it’s unlikely you’ll suddenly stop feeling like an imposter overnight. You won’t try one of our suggestions above and suddenly feel totally free of those thoughts. But over time, you can replace them with positive feelings and a more confident outlook.

Read more: 6 Ways to be career confident >

Capture your Wins

It can be really helpful to reflect on your past achievements when you’re doubting yourself. Whenever your manager and team mates send you some positive feedback, when you complete a project, or get a great result from something you’ve worked on, note it down.

It’s easy to record and reflect on your achievements in Progression with Wins. Simply add a Win in the app or via Slack. Get your whole team using Progression to add Wins for one another.

Learn more about Wins >

If you’re having negative thoughts that are affecting how you function — for example, they’re making it difficult for you to take care of yourself, sleep or maintain relationships — it can really help to talk to a professional. Start with your GP, who can point you in the right direction. Mind can also help.


Picture of Alex Hepworth

Posted by Alex Hepworth

Content Writer at Progression

Alex on LinkedIn

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