How to overcome the impostor syndrome at work


Do you ever doubt yourself? When you start a new job or land an important assignment, do you ever wonder if you’re good enough? Will you be able to successfully complete this new challenge? Most people will probably answer these questions affirmatively. Logical too. After all, everyone is insecure sometimes. Everyone wonders from time to time whether they will live up to the expectations others have of them, especially in working circumstances.impostor syndrome

But, for some people, this goes even further. These people often feel that they are not good enough, that they really don’t deserve that promotion at all, and that it is only a matter of time before those around them realize that they are not as competent as they appear to be.

For those of you who are already fed up with the corporate jungle, please check out my perfect way out in the last paragraphs.

Impostor syndrome

Here is a definition of this impostor syndrome.

Imposter syndrome is loosely defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. It disproportionately affects high-achieving people, who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments.  Many people question whether they’re deserving of accolades.

Your new job is going well and people appreciate what you do. And what happens? That’s when fear can strike: my achievements mean nothing!  You attribute personal successes to luck, and you magnify failures – they are proof that you are nothing deep down. In this case, you probably suffer from impostor syndrome.
People with this syndrome have the feeling that they are impostors and will be exposed any time soon.  Very annoying, but there really is a way out and you can get rid of it.

Here is a striking example

‘That is really a job for you, Cynthia (32) is told by friends who have seen an advertisement for a prestigious job in the advertising world. Cynthia also likes it: nice work and she can earn twice as much. She has almost recovered from burnout and is ready for a new challenge. impostor syndromeEnthusiastically, she writes a letter of application full of bravado. Not much chance of her getting that job. Only, to her amazement, she is accepted and she also gets all the extra things she asked for.

She sets to work in good spirits. She does just fine as the only young woman among mostly white, middle-aged men. But the euphoria is short-lived. An unstoppable voice has crept into her head. “Aren’t you kidding?” the voice asks. “Can you handle this?” “Soon everyone will see that you are a complete layman.”

The voice makes Cynthia insecure. During a presentation, she speaks with a trembling voice. She is ashamed and also angry with herself: why is she so distracted by that voice in her head? It is horrible. She begins to worry, spends more time preparing her presentations, sleeps less well, and eventually calls in sick. Which only adds to her shame.

Further research

Cynthia exhibits the typical characteristics of impostor syndrome: thinking you are not suitable for your task despite proven competence, and fearing that others will discover that you are pretending to be better than you are.

The first researchers into this phenomenon thought that it mainly occurred in highly educated women, but we now know that it is broader in scope. Almost everyone with a demanding job knows to a greater or lesser extent the fear of being revealed as not that good. Impostor syndrome is not seen as a psychological disorder, but as a reaction pattern to outside impressions.

It is in your head

You could think of it as a mental algorithm: a scheme in your head through which you perceive the world in a certain way. Such a scheme may have arisen early on. 

For example, if one of your parents thinks that he or she is inadequate and then conveys this to you as a child: you never do well enough. Those are the glasses with which you are going to perceive the world. You attribute personal successes to luck, and you magnify failures – they are proof that you are nothing deep down. The result is that you do not feel the appreciation of others and you experience your environment as unsafe.


What can you do if you suffer from impostor syndrome? 

The first step you can take is to see the thoughts and feelings you have about your own functioning as the outcome of a scheme in your head, and not as a correct judgment of yourself. Don’t give too much importance to those thoughts, you can also put them aside. What can help is realizing that you don’t have to be perfect to be good enough?

Another trick is to make a mistake on purpose, admit that mistake, and be open to the reactions that it provokes. Do people drop you? Usually not. It is often appreciated if you express some vulnerability. It will facilitate others to also share their blunders with you. Keep in mind the atmosphere in which you work. Is there a culture of reckoning and fear? Then you better skip this step.

The next step is to build a new mental scheme. For example, by making a list of things that are important to you. This makes it easier to distance yourself from the perceived judgment of others.

What also helps is to focus on people you think are worthwhile. Look at this more often. Do things together that give you pleasure. Before you know it you have reprogrammed yourself.

bosses phobiaFear of bosses? Here is your way out

As mentioned before, there are a number of people with this imposter syndrome and it will affect the quality of their work. And if you also are afraid of your boss or bosses, this will only aggravate the problem.

If you see no way out of this situation, think of beginning for yourself, starting by working outside office hours and slowly building your own business. Here is how to do this: become an affiliate marketer.

Affiliate Marketing

You will need to create a website and the program I will be proposing will take care of that. Then you will choose your website niche (a topic you are going to write about). There are millions of niches, but you should pick your topic from one of your hobbies, passions, or interests.

As soon as you have that, you can start building out your website with articles relevant to your niche and with the aim to help people. Subsequently, people will begin visiting your website and as you build further, you can start promoting products relevant to your niche.

You will find these products on the net with various merchants and you will look for the ones with affiliate programs. You apply for their program and as soon as accepted, they will give a link to their products for you to be promoted. Your audience will then be directed to the merchant’s website through the link on your site and when sold, you will receive the commission. No need to buy, store or deliver anything! The investment for this program will be minimal.

Here is the program I recommend as number 1.

Wealthy Affiliate (WA)

Established in 2005 by two Canadian entrepreneurs this unique program has been growing ever since to become the most popular of its kind. Low investment, the best training, and an enormously strong and helpful community have attracted many newbies as well as professionals. But there are so many features that make them great.

Being a member myself since 2014, I have prepared a full review of the ins and outs of this world-class program. You can access this review by clicking here. The review also contains a link with which you can become a member for one week for Free, without any commitments whatsoever. In this way, you can experience the system firsthand.

4 thoughts on “How to overcome the impostor syndrome at work”

  1. Impostor Syndrome is a condition I have found to be true. I have hired many competent employees that I hired because of their great capabilities only to find that they ended up doubting their abilities. This problem I found could be resolved if I gave them an achievement report each month which stressed their achievements and their value to the business. This report only critiqued their strengths and values to the organization, nothing more as any shortcomings were not mentioned at all. The result was happier employees who were up for the challenges that i presented them. You have provided excellent thoughts on this topic on overcoming this issue. If your boss only aggravates the problem affiliate marketing appears to be a great solution., but, how long does it take to earn the income needed? Your recommended site seems interesting and a great way to start pursuing this idea!

    • Handing a monthly achievement report to your employees is a great idea, especially when it concentrates on matters done rather than the negatives. A valuable addition to my article.

      Affiliate marketing is the world’s most popular internet business and anybody has the chance to do it and become successful. The organization I propose is the world’s highest-rated. Still, it takes effort, hard work, and commitment to earn a decent income. Some of us see income after 6 months, some a year. It might take a couple of years to reach a full decent income so that can become independent.

  2. Thank you for sharing. As someone who has dealt with imposter syndrome myself over a long period of time, it’s always nice to read something that resonates the struggles I was going through.
    My imposter syndrome really stemmed from my fast rise to success & immediate downfall in my business. I felt like a phony & continued to doubt myself everyday like I wasn’t good enough. I still battle imposter syndrome today, however it’s not as severe as before! Thank you again for sharing!

    • I sure hope that this article can contribute to getting rid of this syndrome. Apart from following the advice given, you could become your own boss as indicated in the last paragraphs. It is a real possibility for almost all people and millions have already done it and succeeded.


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