Don’t Let Impostor Syndrome Overshadow Your Accomplishments

Don’t Let Impostor Syndrome Overshadow Your Accomplishments

February 09, 2024


If you sometimes question your abilities, you’re not alone. According to research from the University of Iowa, self-doubt is hard-wired into our DNA. But if fear, hesitation and lack of confidence are your defining emotions at work, you might suffer from impostor syndrome. 

Impostor syndrome is a persistent feeling of not being good enough. It’s different from humility. Instead, it’s a debilitating self-doubt that saps enjoyment from professional success.

These feelings can occur despite notable accomplishments and praise for your efforts. Many high achievers experience impostor syndrome.

But if left unchecked, impostor syndrome can cause you to:

  • Feel reduced self-esteem and self-compassion
  • Avoid projects for fear of failure
  • Sabotage opportunities for fear of success
  • Undermine your workplace contributions
  • Experience burnout

Strategies to overcome impostor syndrome

Intense self-doubt is challenging, but it doesn’t have to be a permanent state of mind. The following steps can help you understand and overcome impostor syndrome.

Adopt a challenge mindset. A challenge mindset embraces mistakes as a valuable part of personal and professional growth. When you see failure as an essential aspect of learning, you reduce your fear of not being good enough. You can gain strength from setbacks by viewing them as building blocks instead of obstacles to avoid.

Seek a mix of internal and external validation. Earning praise from managers and colleagues feels good. It can even boost your confidence. But solely looking to others for approval will leave you wanting because there will always be more people to please. Instead, balance your external validation with internal motivation. Examine the reasons you enjoy your job. Think about the people you’re helping. And remind yourself of the qualifications that led to your hiring. Understanding your inner drive will increase your resilience when doubts arise.

Use positive self-talk. When doubt creeps in, it’s easy to ruminate on negative thoughts. Self-compassion is vital to overcoming impostor syndrome. When you feel anxious about work, reflect on the challenges you’ve overcome. Keep a journal of your positive attributes and accomplishments, and read it when you need inspiration. Schedule short breaks into your day to repeat a positive mantra. Taking time to reenergize will lessen your doubts and boost your productivity over the long run.

Avoid false comparisons. Your quest for improvement should compare your current self to your past self. Gaining new skills and learning from mistakes are valuable progressions. Don’t compare yourself to impossible standards or people with different skills and experiences. Understand that everyone has doubts, even those who appear confident and in control. False beliefs about others and comparisons to their achievements can make you doubt your abilities. Focusing on your development will help you appreciate and believe in your progress.

Teach others. Sharing your knowledge helps others and affirms your expertise. It’s also a great way to refine your skills and build confidence. Seek workplace opportunities to connect with others who could benefit from your insights and experience. These could include formal mentorships, employee resource groups, networking events or informal chats. 

Set realistic expectations. Doing too much is a common symptom of impostor syndrome. With excessive self-doubt, no amount of work ever feels like enough. But these unrealistic expectations often lead to feelings of anxiety, inadequacy and burnout. Instead of trying to do more and more, prioritize your most meaningful work. Shed unnecessary obligations. And focus on quality over quantity. This strategy will build your strengths and help you feel more content with your accomplishments.

Help is available

You work hard at your job. Those efforts should create pride and a strong sense of accomplishment. 

If you continue to struggle with doubt and self-defeating thoughts, contact your human resources department or benefits adviser. They can connect you to mental health benefits and providers to further explore this issue and help you find greater joy in your achievements.