What really is imposter syndrome and how can you overcome it?

What really is imposter syndrome and how can you overcome it?

Back to Career Advice Insights

It’s official, January is a hard month. With the continued dark mornings and freezing temperatures it’s no surprise that they call today ‘Blue Monday’.

After the long Christmas break, most of us are still coming down from a turkey and mince pie fuelled high with a crash. With ‘new year, new start’ messages popping up everywhere, many of us look to check in with our current career situation.

If you’re coming back to the same job, wanting to move on or actually starting a new role this year. One thing you might have in common is the tiny voice at the back of your head whispering:


“I have no idea what I’m doing”

“How am I still here?”

“Am I good enough for this role?”

“I don’t deserve this promotion”

“How did I get this new job?”


That little annoying inner voice of career self-doubt is probably what is known as, imposter syndrome.

Imposter Syndrome is defined as “the feeling that your achievements are not real or that you do not deserve praise or success” or “the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.”

Are you critical of yourself at work? Do you dismiss your achievements as nothing? Perhaps your thinking of making a big career change, starting a new job or landing a promotion? – These thoughts often come with a side order of self-doubt and sense of inadequacy.

We’ve all experienced different levels of imposter syndrome at some point in our career lives (I know I have). But the good news is there are ways to overcome these feelings of self-doubt and gain the confidence to appreciate your abilities and continue to take charge of your career.



1. Pin-point the trigger of your doubt

New job in a new environment? New job title with extra responsibilities? Wanting to move on, but wondering if you’ll be good enough?

Realise what it is that is causing the doubt in your mind and remember – don’t sell yourself so short. You are here for the right reason and earned your place. One helpful way to deal with those niggling doubts is to write them down. Using a notebook or post-it notes are a cathartic way to troubleshoot those troubles.


2. Identify your strengths and talents

It’s not only knowledge and technical skills that are important in your career. By identifying your inner strengths and personality traits (which you may have forgotten along the way) you can centre your career on these to help overcome imposter syndrome.

Are you a listener? A learner? A teacher? Are your relentless or persistent?

– Identify and find how they work for you.


3. Celebrate your successes and achievements

Reflect back on your career and all your achievements and successes that have got you this far.

These are evidence of the hard work and skill – you did that.

It’s not narcissistic to celebrate your career achievements – it’s healthy and good to build your confidence. Doing so on a regular basis will be a real boost to banish the imposter syndrome and self-doubt.


4. Reach out and create a support network

The worst thing to do when imposter syndrome hits is to isolate yourself from others. Especially colleagues at work that can provide helpful and constructive feedback.

If you haven’t already, make the effort to build relationships with your co-workers. This way, you not only have someone to go to lunch with but a group of people or person that you can approach for support.

The most important relationship to nurture is with your manager. Don’t wait until your quarterly or annual meeting to gain feedback, ask for a chat about how you’re doing and what you could improve on.


By recognising the cause, identifying your strengths, celebrating your successes and reaching out for help you can find new career confidence, love your career and overcome imposter syndrome for 2020.

And remember – you’re not the only one! Nearly everyone else and many of your work colleagues are probably feeling the same as you. Through self-love and appreciation of your ability, you can ditch the self-doubt this year!

More importantly, if the likes of Donald Trump can get to be the President of the United States (and continues to believe himself to be better than the rest – and the country) then you can do absolutely anything!

On that note, I’m off to hand in my application for the next US presidency.

Peace out ✌​