Imposter Syndrome affects almost everyone at some point in their career. Sometimes it relates to an entire job. Sometimes it pertains to a specific task or assignment. And sometimes it comes and goes. As a solopreneur or an entrepreneur, it can be especially hard to overcome Imposter Syndrome since you work primarily on your own. It’s super easy to go down the rabbit hole of questioning yourself, your knowledge, and what you bring to the table. There’s good news though — you can get past Imposter Syndrome and find success.
If you’re asking yourself “but how?” then this is exactly the post for you. It explores how to boost your mental game and shares actionable strategies for leveling up your experience and know how. Each of these strategies can be really helpful individually, and they also work well together.
To overcome Imposter Syndrome, first make a list of your concerns.
This is something that you can take to a friend or mentor, or you can keep it completely private. Most importantly, once you’ve built a list of the things that you are most concerned about, you’ve got a great place to start.
Take each of those items, and figure out what you know well, and what you don’t know. Pretend like you’re back in school, write a definition of each, and then list as many things as you know about them.
Another approach is to pretend like you’re explaining a concept to a friend or client who doesn’t know as much about this area, and you’ll probably surprise yourself with everything you do know.
Next list all of your questions. Start researching. And, just maybe you’ll have a whole list of content ideas for your blog. While it may introduce some feelings of overwhelm, the key here is that it offers you a solid understanding of what you know, and what to do next.
Own your strengths.
On a good day, this can be hard. Crazy hard. And if it’s a day when imposter syndrome is getting the best of you, it may seem downright impossible. This is a time when it’s great to have a brag book, testimonials for your website, or a file of client wins.
And, if you find yourself really struggling in a given area, then refocusing on what you’re really great at can be a powerful way to regain confidence. Read this article I wrote on the secret superpower of testimonials to learn more about this.
Also, own your non-strengths.
I once sat in on a workshop that dove deep into strengths, weaknesses, and non-strengths. Strengths are obviously things you’re good at. Weaknesses can be improved on. Non-strengths are things that you can work and work and work on and simply not improve much. So if you have identified some non-strengths, you may want to acknowledge these and move on, or see if you can either farm these tasks out or gift them to someone else.
Identify problem areas or weaknesses.
On the surface, this looks a lot like listing your concerns. But after you’ve figured out which of these you actually know a lot about, you’ll also find some areas that are weaknesses.
What’s more, you’ll probably start to notice patterns. If you make errors, when do you make them? At what point in your task process do you make them? And when do you catch them?
From there, you’ll be able to come up with some new systems of checks and balances that prevent them in the first place. And, it will leave you much more confident about your skills.
Identify goals and map out a plan for achieving them.
As a quick recap up until this point, you’ve put together a list of things you’re concerned about and figured out where your knowledge gaps are. You’ve also identified your strengths (and perhaps a few non-strengths, too) and weaknesses.
This next step is about taking those knowledge gaps and weaknesses, and exploring how you can improve. Simply saying “I want to get better” isn’t a solid plan. What you are basically doing here is building a custom curriculum to grow your knowledge and expertise.
And even though sometimes this may seem overwhelming initially, having a solid plan is one of the best ways to move beyond imposter syndrome. And the added bonus is more confidence each time you check off a goal!
Chat with a mentor, business coach, or therapist.
This strategy is super loaded. SUPER loaded. It nicely complements many of the other options and can be done at any time. Rinse and repeat. It boils down to: “Call a lifeline.” But it’s more complex than that, so I’ll break it down a bit.
First, chatting with someone who knows you — and your capabilities — well, can be really empowering. They will help you redefine what your strengths are. And, what they remember you for can really help give you a boost if you’re really down.
Second, if you’re really suffering from Imposter Syndrome in a long term way, then these folks can help you figure out the best plan to get unstuck and move forward. In particular, mentors and business coaches are exactly the people you need to be contacting if you want to make a change. What’s more, they can help you redefine your offerings, or figure out how to really capitalize on those strengths.
Third, if none of these strategies are helping, then a therapist is really the way to go. They can offer serious help if you need it. (Side note: if you know you need help, please reach out to a professional mental health practitioner; this article is no substitute for that.) Or they can help you understand the root causes of your particular variety of Imposter Syndrome and figure out a path forward.
Take a break and switch gears.
When you do complicated puzzles, it sometimes pays off to take a break and come back to it later. A fresh set of eyes can give you a new perspective on how the pieces all fit together. And the same is true for overcoming Imposter Syndrome. If you’re overwhelmed or stressed out by a task, shutting down your computer and doing something different may be just the ticket. Going for a run or hitting the gym is a great way to reboot your brain. But, even going for a short walk or stopping to stretch and get in a few deep breaths can really transform your mental state.
What to remember about overcoming Imposter Syndrome.
Imposter Syndrome strikes most of us at some point, but it doesn’t have to stop us in our tracks. Using some (or all) of these proven tactics may be just the solution to get you back on the confidence wagon.