How To Overcome The Career Challenge That 82% Of Successful Professionals Face

Have you ever downplayed your expertise because you felt like a scammer? You may have sabotaged your success because you feared you would not live up to expectations. Or maybe you’ve found it difficult to accept your accomplishments and wonder if you deserve awards.

If yes, you are not alone.

A recently published study in the Journal of General Medicine found that a whopping 82% of people struggle with imposter syndrome, which is commonly defined as persistent feelings of inadequacy despite apparent success. Ironically, it seems particularly vulnerable to high performers, who often agonize over the smallest mistakes in their work, mistakenly attribute their success to luck or external factors, and are unable to realistically assess their competencies and abilities.

If left unchecked, these feelings can have significant adverse effects, including contributing to increased anxiety and depression, less job risk-taking, and career burnout.

Here are five ways to deal with this all-too-common professional challenge:

1. Share your feelings with trusted allies.

We humans are weird creatures with innate prejudices that often distort our perceptions, particularly those we hold of ourselves and our accomplishments because we believe we’re not worth it, or attribute them to “luck” or outside forces. But what you think and what is can be two very different things. Instead of agonizing over inaccurate information, share your feelings with trusted allies. Seeing yourself through the eyes of a friend, mentor, or colleague gives you a more balanced (and likely more supportive) perspective than your own and suppresses your feelings of inadequacy.

2. Exchange self-criticism for supportive self-talk.

For example, when you’re disappointed that you didn’t get a promotion or a new job, it’s easy to berate yourself. However, by raising your awareness of negative self-talk, such as telling yourself, “I’m not talented enough,” you begin to see how self-defeating it can be. This will help you pay attention to your words and replace them with something more supportive.

3. Think progress, not perfection.

Perfectionism and imposter syndrome often go hand in hand. So when things don’t go exactly according to plan, you may mistakenly believe that you are a failure and question your competence. But when that happens, it doesn’t mean you haven’t progressed and grown. For example, if you’re just short of an extremely challenging goal, don’t dwell on the 1% you missed; Recognize and celebrate the 99% you’ve done. Also, realize that failure and success are not mutually exclusive; Failure is an inevitable part of success, and failure is an opportunity to grow.

4. Avoid comparing yourself to others.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparisons are the thief of joy.” And this is especially true for those afflicted with imposter syndrome. Every time you compare yourself to others, you build a dynamic that tends to fuel your feelings of inadequacy because you’re searching for all the ways in which you haven’t done as much as the other person. You brace yourself for disappointment when you compare your journey to someone else’s, especially if that person is decades ahead of you in their career. So try to avoid comparing your Chapter 1 to Chapter 20 of someone else

5. Help someone else.

Even if you feel like a fraud, you have experiences that are really valuable to others. Unfortunately, we often underestimate our expertise, believing it to be common knowledge and forgetting that at one point it was new to us. One way to reduce self-doubt is to put this wisdom to good use by helping someone else, especially someone who is a few years behind you in their career path. This act of service helps shift your perspective to empower you and remind you of your worth.

Even the most successful among us struggle with imposter syndrome from time to time. But remember, just because you’ve never done it before doesn’t mean you can’t now. With these five methods, you can conquer it and not let it hold you back.

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