The Short Guide To Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

by Caroline Jones

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is also known as imposter phenomenon, imposterism, fraud syndrome or the imposter experience.

It is where you can doubt your own skills, talents or accomplishments and have a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud. This can be really debilitating and many people suffer with this at certain times in their lives. 

Examples could be:

  • When securing a new position after going through interviews  
  • Getting into a college or university 
  • Achieving a promotion 

Research has highlighted that there is a link between imposter syndrome and low self-esteem, perfectionism, self-worth, family expectations and anxiety.

Well known individuals have suffered with Imposter Syndrome, including:

David Tennant, Emma Watson, Billy Connolly and Michelle Obama.

Toolkit to combat Imposter Syndrome 

  1. Talk to your friends and family. Talk to people who you trust and explain how you feel. Once you start talking about it, it will help you to realise what is fact and fiction and should help you to identify those negative thoughts. You will also be surprised when you start talking to people how many others have experienced imposter syndrome and people will be able to empathise with you.
  2. Focus on your achievements. Recognise what you are good at. Put together a folder,  - every time you get a positive email or a recommendation, keep them to review. This is especially helpful for those times when you are finding it difficult. It’s also a good way to remind yourself of your successes and achievements. 
  3. We all make mistakes. To grow and learn we sometimes need to make mistakes. Accept this and do not let this stop you being the best you can be. When it goes wrong, or you feel it is all too much, take a minute. If you can go outside, take a deep breath, sit down and refocus. Let go of your inner perfectionism. 
  4. Be Kind to yourself and build confidence. Make sure you are doing something that gives you purpose. Discover what you enjoy doing, what you are best at, and what is your purpose so that you can keep working towards this. Once you have identified this, it should help eliminate those feelings that you are not capable and not worthy. It should help define you and what you want to achieve.
  5. If you are the first at something, we applaud you and you should applaud yourself. If you are the first of your friends or family to achieve something, do not let the self-doubt stop you enjoying it. Be proud of your success, whether it be going to university, getting into a specific career or earning a sum of money. You may be feeling you do not fit or ‘I wasn’t supposed to achieve this’. Do not let this stop you. Go for it... be confident, smile and get talking to people. You will be surprised how many other people feel the same as you.

Lastly, steer your own path. Do not let Imposter Syndrome stop you achieving. It is there for you – your hard work has already paid off. If  you still find it hard, visualise yourself there. What does it feel like, how happy would you be, what would the promotion offer you, what would this new job give you? 

Go for it...

Suggested Additional Learning:

Now listen to Stay Nimble Career Coaches Jayne Saul-Paterson and Georgie Blackburn discuss ‘How do I overcome Imposter Syndrome?’ - Let's Work It Out Episode 18 - How do I overcome Imposter Syndrome by Let's Work It Out

Grab a free 30 minute conversation with a qualified Stay Nimble career coach to chat through any of your work-related challenges here.

Subscribe to Spark! our fortnightly newsletter for teams & managers

Subscribe to our fortnightly newsletter

Spark! is where we share the latest career development and team performance insights, inspiring articles and podcasts along with free resources for teams and managers.