Personal development: 20 tips for tackling imposter syndrome
Self-doubt is common among professionals and can take hold at any stage of your career. Here’s how to turn those thoughts around and overcome imposter syndrome.
We all have a picture of where we aspire to reach in our careers but getting there is often far from easy. As we climb the career ladder, we will face obstacles that will test not only business strengths and weaknesses but also our own personal boundaries.
In recent times we have become more aware of imposter syndrome and how people in business feel that they are not worthy of the success they have achieved. This, in turn, impacts their ability to reach their full potential and career goals. Here, we speak to 20 successful women who reveal how they have overcome imposter syndrome.
1. Choose to ignore negative thoughts
“Life is like a coin – you have both heads and tails (blessings and pain or positives and negatives) – you can choose a side to focus on and live the rest of your life with everything that side of the coin offers,” explains Anita Lawrence, a certified speaker, trainer and coach with the John Maxwell Team.
2. Become a role model
Emily Nuttall, a motivational disability and mental health campaigner and author of, It’s Ok to Not Be Ok, says, “being a role model is a great way to fight back against imposter syndrome – whether we are a charity worker, a loved one, a coach or a professional – to offer guidance, strength and support, so we can inspire and grow to help others and ourselves be the best we can be”.
3. Find your lighthouses
“Seek those individuals who look after and care about you, and metaphorically, use their shining lights, to guide, direct and support you. These ‘lighthouses’ will help you to navigate your own personal and educational journey,” says Emma Chivers, a consultant and researcher who specialises in youth and community work.
4. Learn to love yourself
“Self-talk – this is a great way to change your habits – consistently talk yourself into the new you and love yourself. There is no ego here, just the pure virgin love we are born with,” advises Jan Mayfield is an inspirational speaker and author of Zoetic Soul: Pertaining to Life.
5. Retrain your brain
Jenni Dunman, a multi award-winning entrepreneur, ethical investor and global mindset transformation coach, says, “we are born with no anxiety, no insecurities, no fear, no phobia. We have a beautiful clear young mind, ready to be educated. From the moment we are born, we are influenced by family, friends, school, others’ opinions, beliefs, circumstances and events. These things can shape the rest of our lives and can help determine whether we succeed in life or fail. We don't, however, have to accept that that’s just who we are; if your opinion of yourself is negative or you are unhappy, you can retrain your brain”.
6. Find your purpose
Joy Whitlock, an international trainer and presenter, says, “the most profound thing you can do is to identify your purpose in life. This may change over time and that’s ok. Once you have purpose everything else falls into place. Your identity, beliefs and values will align to your purpose. Understand them and write them down. Review them regularly and amend them as you see fit”.
7. Listen to your inner self
Listening is key, according to Karen Ramsay-Smith, a professional advanced transformational coach. “We all have our own personal coach within us – it’s a natural born state, completely free for us to access at any time. Nature is one of the best ways to meet this inner teacher. When we are always talking and doing, we are never listening. We must learn to listen and let go if we want to create more of what we really want, learning to observe our fearful self, to master our flow of thoughts and emotions”.
8. Change your money mindset
“Having your financial sh** together is more important than ever,” notes Vix Munro, an entrepreneur, author, money enthusiast and eternal optimist.
“It’s about financial empowerment – taking control of your money, rather than it controlling you. Understanding how to manage your money is a key piece of this, but it’s only part of the picture. Your financial reality is also a reflection of your money mindset – the core set of beliefs we subconsciously develop about money. Most people’s attitude to money is shaped by their family background and upbringing. I believe we all have the ability to transform our money mindset, rewrite our money story, become financially empowered and live our best life”.
9. Recognise self-doubt and do it anyway
Entrepreneur, property investor, coach and mentor Lynsey Anne Toft says, “you can let your self-doubt get the better of you and stop you progressing in life, or you can charge on regardless and smash it. Personal development and filling your mind with things that help you to grow are essential. “One of my favourite quotes is from Henry Ford, who said ‘whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right’ – he makes a good point; you decide that”.
10. Don’t be afraid to make a fresh start
LaChelle Adkins, lifestyle designer, transformation coach and creator of #smile4wellnessmovement believes in the power of renewal. “My own journey helped me to expose my fears and sadness with transparency, which led me to create my own fresh start philosophy”.
11. You are not superhuman, so stop trying to be
Accountancy and business expert Leanne Eustace, explains, “running a business can often be hard, frustrating, lonely and tiring. It is not for everyone and it can bring an unbelievable level of stress and responsibility. It took me a long time to realise that you can't do everything yourself. Entrepreneurs are familiar with phrases such as, ‘knowledge is power’, ‘cash is king’, and ‘turnover is vanity; profit is sanity’. I believe, however, that time is the most important thing – you can never get it back”.
12. Stop procrastinating
Sandra Blake, estate agent and co-owner of a multi award-winning estate and letting agency is a believer in seizing the moment. “Time doesn't wait for anyone and before you know it another year has passed, and you are wondering, ‘what if…?’ Think of it like this – are your biggest regrets the things you did do, or those things you didn’t?”
13. Value human connection
Kerry Martin, an experienced coach who specialises in the field of personal development, leadership and mindfulness believes, “the art of connection is becoming lost in the ever-changing world of technology. If there is one message I could spread to everyone on this planet, it would be to keep the art of human connection alive, show up, be present and make everyone you meet feel valued. Hold someone’s hand and help them through life, and don’t forget to smile”.
14. Find your tribe
Claire Rees’ has a background in health, fitness and project management and says, “I have learnt that networking, investing in yourself, and finding your tribe of support is just as important in your life and business as marketing”.
15. Lead with passion
Melissa Curran, founder of the ModernMind Group, says, “I believe many leaders still have a long way to go when it comes to people leadership. The truth is that there are many people in organisations who lose the love for what they do because of the environment that a leader creates. The leader can make it the best place to go to work or one of the worst”.
16. Understand the power of your subconscious mind
Sheena Ytil works in the tourism industry and is a speaker and mentor to young girls, boys and women who have been through challenges. She says, “I have come to better understand how powerful the subconscious mind is and how it frames how we live, even when our conscious selves are striving to make changes. I have started to perceive things differently and put them into practice by creating habits to refurbish my memory chip”.
17. Create the right environment
Suzanne Burnall-Watts, an expert within the field of clinical hypnotherapy believes that creating the right environment is key to beating imposter syndrome. “My unique approach, intuitive thinking and ability to dip into my skill box play an important part in helping me create a safe environment for myself and my clients to work in”.
18. Adopt a growth mindset
Toni Clarkstone, author, speaker and trainer who writes and lectures on relationship sales, customer loyalty and personal development, advises, “the first step is to take stock of the situation and all you have been through with a clear mind. Reflection is an excellent way of building confidence and strength, as you are demonstrating to yourself that you have the capability to handle whatever is thrown at you. The next step is to let go of what you cannot control; a good salesperson knows how to accept loss and focus on the next win. The key is to adopt a growth mindset, which means that you must believe that you can develop and improve. Without this, you will continue to live in fear of the next challenge that life throws at you. Once you have taken stock, reflected, and let go of what you cannot control with a growth mindset, you can start taking action”.
19. Remember that success is subjective
Tracy Hill, coffee shop owner and founder of The Cats PyjamasKindness Project, says, “being positive is not always easy. If I can give any advice to others, however, it would be – yes, bad things happen and we can’t always change these things. What my own life has shown me is that good things happen too. Learn from mistakes, gain strength from adversity and don’t waste a second. Believe in your abilities and remember that success is subjective”.
20. Realise your worth
Rachel Brydon, founder of Calm in the Chaos Training, Consultancy and Community Services believes it is vital to recognise your worth, even if you find it hard to accept. She says, “I know that by promoting emotion coaching in the home and interactions with children, I am having a direct, positive effect on the lives of thousands of children. In delivering wellbeing training to professionals, I am having an impact not just on their professional lives, but their home lives too”.
More tips and advice can be found in IWOW: Inspirational Women of the World (£12.99, Panoma Press) by Dawn Evans and Tracey Smolinski.
Interested in this topic? Read Personal development: the art of talking to yourself more usefully at work.