Impostor syndrome can really cramp your style. While you’re out trying to live your best life, build your career, and foster amazing relationships, impostor syndrome sits in your head and tries to convince you that you don’t deserve any of it. Impostor syndrome is a pattern of thinking that prevents people from internalizing their accomplishments. People with impostor syndrome often feel like frauds – that their successes are based on luck rather than skill and that they’ve somehow fooled the people around them into believing them to be more competent than they actually are. These doubts, however, are contradicted by external evidence that indicates that they are every bit as competent as people believe them to be.
While impostor syndrome is definitely difficult to beat, the team at Petite2Queen have put together a list of seven habits that will help you dump impostor syndrome. You can watch our free webinar to learn our full INSPIRE method, and watch out for our mini course, which will go deeper into each of the seven habits in the INSPIRE method. Here, we’re going to focus on just one of those habits: The “N” in INSPIRE, which stands for New Focus.
Looking on the Bright Side with a New Focus
N stands for New Focus because we’re shifting away from focusing on our perceived flaws and mistakes to instead looking at our accomplishments. It’s a simple but powerful habit to develop.
Let me tell you a story. When I was working on a scholarship application back in October 2018, I had to list all of my accomplishments, in both work and academia. This forced me to look at all of the evidence that told me I was as good as people thought. Unfortunately, I didn’t win that scholarship, but I did get another huge benefit: Writing and reading this extensive list of accomplishments gave me a new perspective that has allowed me to move forward in both my research and my career because it forced me to see that I am good enough.
So try making a list of your accomplishments. Even if you don’t have anything to apply for, it’s a good idea to write out every accomplishment you can think of in a document and to keep adding to it as you remember more things. If you want, you can use this as an opportunity to spruce up your resume/CV, update your LinkedIn profile, or even add to your job description. Listing out your accomplishments is really powerful because when everything you’ve done is looking you in the face, it’s much harder to chalk it all up to luck.
“What if I Haven’t Done Anything?”
Don’t worry if you haven’t “done anything,” because you have. If you’re young, new to your career, or haven’t delved into developing your career for whatever reason, this exercise is still for you. It’s important to remember that your accomplishments don’t have to have been recognized by an institution, like a university or a company. You can – and should – list things you might even consider silly or trivial because they all add up. Things like completing difficult video games, building elaborate models of characters or sets, or shoveling your neighbors’ driveways after a snowstorm all count. I want you to list every single thing you can think of.
While you’re making your list, or after you’re finished – whichever works for you – you can categorize them: academic, career, personal, interpersonal, etc. This way, when you’re struggling with something, you can quickly refer to the relevant section to remind yourself that you’ve already done things like this before. When I’m doubting my ability to do my PhD work, I can look at my academic accomplishments that show me that I’m more than capable of researching and writing. When you’re nervous about completing a project for work or are having a difficult time with a friend, you can look at those sections; you’ve rocked work presentations before and you’ve healed relationships before. Heck, you can look at the work you’ve done on yourself to see that you can overcome impostor syndrome just like you’ve overcome grief, bad habits, or mental illness.
Keep Your List Handy
Keep this list somewhere accessible. You can print it and keep it on your desk, pin the best of the best onto your wall, or keep the file on your desktop. I would actually make a habit of looking at the list regularly – say, on a weekly or monthly basis – to keep impostor-syndrome-like thoughts at bay.
When you do this, you can start to focus on what you’ve done, rather than what you’ve left to do. Looking forward is good, but it’s important to take a moment to look back every now and again to see how far you’ve come.
A Giant Leap Toward Overcoming Impostor Syndrome
Writing out your accomplishments and then revisiting them is a great way to fight off intrusive thoughts that tell you that you don’t deserve your job or friends. They say the proof is in the pudding, and this pudding stash should serve to boost your confidence. However, this exercise is just one of the seven habits Petite2Queen has developed to help you overcome impostor syndrome. Learn the rest in our free webinar!
Rachel Whitbeck is the Director of Content at Petite2Queen. She is working towards her PhD in Sociology at the University of Limerick in Ireland. Rachel uses her experience in writing, editing, and research to develop content that appeals to and is reflective of the diverse millennial woman.