Health Advocate Blog

Ways to overcome Impostor Syndrome at work

No matter what type of work you do, from time to time you may feel inadequate. Perhaps you feel that everyone else is better at their jobs than you are, or that you’re not smart or talented enough. Maybe you even feel like a fraud and fear that you’ll be found out as not being as good at your job as people think you are. What you’re feeling may be Impostor Syndrome, and it’s estimated that up to 70% of people have experienced this at some point in their lives and/or careers.

It can be tough to struggle with Impostor Syndrome on the job, as the fears, worries, and negative self-talk associated with this phenomenon can take a toll on your energy and your work. Below, check out a few ways you can gain the confidence needed to kick Impostor Syndrome to the curb. Even using just one of these tips can help you improve your mindset, but combining several of these ideas may help you create a powerful strategy to really crush Impostor Syndrome!

  • Know you’re not alone. Many people suffer from some form of Impostor Syndrome—even some of the world’s most talented people, like author Maya Angelou, and various actors and actresses. Even in those soul-crushing moments where you feel like a fraud, take solace in the fact that many others feel just like you do.
  • Talk back to that voice in your head. You know the one—the voice that tells you you’re unprepared, unworthy, unqualified. Whenever your inner critic starts trying to crack your confidence, stand up for yourself! If that nasty little voice is telling you you’re going to give a terrible speech at the convention and that nobody will take you seriously as an expert, remind your inner critic that you possess the right knowledge to be an expert on your topic and that you’ve practiced your presentation and are comfortable with it. (Repeat as often as needed in order to boost your confidence and make that inner critic slink away.)
  • And then, talk nicer to yourself. Remind yourself of all the things you know well and are skilled at. Think about your positive qualities, and thank yourself for having them.
  • Focus on what you know. You likely know much more than you think you do. Instead of worrying about what you don’t yet know and aren’t yet skilled at, focus on what you do know and can do—and then do it to the best of your ability.
  • Seize opportunities to learn. Nobody knows everything, and everyone can benefit from additional training or knowledge. If you feel you could stand to gain some knowledge in certain areas, be proactive and look for opportunities to learn. Consider asking your manager what learning opportunities—like online courses or training, a day of shadowing, etc.—are available at your organization.
  • Forgive yourself for your mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time, so you’re in good company. Plus, mistakes are valuable learning opportunities. If you’ve made a mistake, remind yourself that it’s okay. Then, take a few moments to think about what lessons you’ve learned, how you’d like to improve, and what you’ll aim to do better next time.
  • Worry less about being the best overall. Don’t waste time comparing yourself to others. Instead, focus on becoming the best version of you. Who do you want to become? Where do you already excel, and where can you improve? Take steps to become the person you truly want to be.
  • Value progress over perfection. Remind yourself that nobody’s perfect, including you. Remember that you’re not superhuman, and be realistic when you’re trying to reach a goal. Don’t be afraid to take it slow and steady. The best kind of progress is the kind that you can maintain—not the kind that burns you out. Take things one step at a time, and acknowledge your progress regularly.
  • Celebrate your successes. Many people are so busy that their successes often blur together in their minds as they quickly move on to the next project or goal. Make an effort to remember these moments. Keep a white board on your office wall, or a notebook you can keep in your bag or desk drawer, where you can write down your wins. Over time, you’ll be surprised at all the positive things you’ll have amassed on your list—and these successes can help you build your confidence.
  • Get some rest. If you’re not sleeping right, you may feel more up-and-down emotionally. If you’re in this state of mind, you could be more susceptible to feeling worried or underconfident. Getting the right amount of sleep can help you feel refreshed, calm, and ready to take on challenges.

For Health Advocate Members

If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to the EAP+Work/Life program, call us to talk to a Licensed Professional Counselor or Work/Life Specialist. They can help you address concerns like stress management, work/life balance, issues in the workplace, and more.