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#MondayMotivation: 3 Ways to Beat Impostor Syndrome and Get Out of Your Own Way

Topics: Career Advice

Are you your own worst enemy at work? If you have Impostor Syndrome, the answer is probably yes. Impostor Syndrome is internal feelings of phoniness and inadequacy that persist despite evidence to the contrary. If you feel like a fraud even when you’re at the top of your game at work, you’re familiar with this phenomenon.


(Photo Credit: DaPuglet/Flickr)

The problem, of course, is that persistent negative mental states do more than just make your workdays less fun. Feel like a phony all the time, and you might start to unconsciously sabotage yourself at the office, whether it’s by not going out for a promotion or by apologizing constantly and undermining your position with your co-workers. Also, it’s exhausting. Just think of what you could do with all that mental energy you’re wasting on feeling bad.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

If you’re having trouble getting out of your own way mentally, these are a few things to try:

1. Create a Done List.

To-do lists are all well and good, but once you cross off those tasks, it’s easy to forget about them. In the process, you might also forget how much you’ve already accomplished.

Enter the Done List. L.V. Anderson at Slate describes hers:

“…a color-coded spreadsheet that tracks every article and blog post I have written or edited, and every podcast or video I have appeared in, since the beginning of 2013. Thanks to this spreadsheet, I can tell you exactly how many pieces of content (for lack of a better term) I worked on last year (486), and the previous year (310), and the year before (292). …At a single glance, this spreadsheet allows me to see everything I have done as a writer and editor over the past three years.”

Why keep a Done List? Well, in part, to remind yourself of how much you’ve done. Also, it’s a handy reference for review time, when you’ll want to remind the person in charge of raises how much you’ve added to the company.

2. Treat Yourself Like a Beloved Friend.

Would you tell your best friend that his slight weight gain meant he was lazy, or that her tiny mistake at work meant she was incompetent? I sure hope not.

Treat yourself as kindly as you would a friend. Self-compassion can help shut down those inner voices that want to sing you the song of your own shortcomings.

3. Aim for “Good Enough.”

Eric Barker at The Week reminds us that Microsoft ships software with known bugs, because “if they tried to make it perfect, it would never be finished. Ever. So they focus on ‘good enough.'” Apple fans in the audience might have a thing or two to say about that, but anyone who’s ever used an iPhone with a lousy antenna knows that even the Cult of Jobs isn’t perfect all the time.

Bottom line, as Tina Fey once said, “The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s 11:30.”

Perfectionism is your enemy. It’ll keep you from doing what you need to do, but beyond that, it’ll keep you from achieving your dreams. All big achievements are the results of many, many tiny steps. Let perfectionism freeze you, and you’ll never move forward. “Good enough” is good enough.

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What would you add to this list? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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