Whether you are just starting out in business or an established entrepreneur chances are you have been struck down by the dreaded impostor syndrome. You’ve scored an amazing client, connection or opportunity but the niggling doubt in the pit of your stomach starts to rise. The niggle becomes a raging fire and soon enough you are frozen to your chair internally screaming in a panic.
“I can’t do this! What was I thinking? What were they thinking? I shouldn’t be doing this?”
These moments will happen unfortunately, however, it’s how you manage them that will help your business grow and shine.
What is Impostor Syndrome?
The first time I experienced impostor syndrome was when I signed the contract for my first client. I was both excited and scared that I would let them down. As an anxiety sufferer, I had just put these feelings down to nerves and my inexperience. Then I stumbled across two little words that would change how approached these moments.
Impostor syndrome is used to describe those moments of terror and anxiety that overwhelm you at the most inopportune times. When your mind starts to play tricks on you and tells you that you don’t measure up. You feel like you don’t have the necessary skills for the project, that you are too inexperienced, that the client made a mistake hiring you or just that you can’t do what you’ve been hired to complete. In short you are a fraud in a highly skilled creative world.
These feelings appear to stem from our built-in need for work to be perfect first time every time. We know this is an unrealistic ideal for us to put on ourselves. Your worst enemy to success is always yourself and your inner monologue. However, we can get through them.
Can’t I Just Hide Under a Blanket?
Impostor syndrome is a pain and can damage your ability to work if you let it take over your mindset. The negative thoughts that impostor syndrome fills you with might leave you wanting to cower under a blanket till the project passes. However, deep down you know you just need to start and chances are you will not fail at all.
We just need to know how to manage these feelings when they pop up and work around them. That way our amazing abilities can shine through.
Manage Those Feelings Like the Boss You Are!
We all need a little reminder to help manage negative feelings in all aspects of life. Try some of the below and I am certain that impostor syndrome with pack its bags and get out of your way quick smart!
Remember that everyone feels impostor syndrome at some point
Everyone has felt this way at some point or other. It will happen every time someone steps out of their comfort zone or challenges themselves. You are not alone in these feelings. Remember that! If you are feeling particularly overwhelmed by the feelings try to reach out to your network or even Google impostor syndrome. Trust me you will instantly know that you can get through these feelings.
Take the first step in the project
You have probably heard this one many times when people talk about motivation to exercise. Well the same idea applies to challenging work tasks. I’ve been told many times that the first step to conquering fear, or any hard task, is just to take the first step. Each step you take will make the next one that much easier. Before you know what you are doing, the task will be completed. Take your first step and see where you end up!
Go for a walk outside
This tip is an old one, but it works. Especially when you work from home it is too easy to get stuck inside staring at your computer screen. It is so important to get outside in the fresh air and get moving. Not just for health reasons but also to enhance your mental health. Getting away from electronics and back into nature is a free and easy stress reliever that is accessible to everyone. Even a 15-minute walk is enough to find a fresh perspective or spark creativity. Why not take some photos of your walk of interesting things you come across. There is a family of garden gnomes randomly growing in a section of bush near my place. You never know what you will find.
Write a list of all your skills and remind yourself of them
Having a handy list of your skills, and even achievements, can be a great help in reminding yourself that you are able to complete a task or project. By seeing a clear written list of everything you are capable of doing you can talk those pesky thoughts around by impressing yourself with your amazing abilities. Don’t forget to keep adding to the list whenever a new challenge or task is completed. Keep building up that log of brilliance.
Connect with you network
Whether this is an online business support network, people in your social media feeds or friends it is important to connect with others when you are feeling a bit wobbly. One of the best ways to get some confidence and strength back is to get out of your head and chat with others. Maybe organise a quick coffee catch up with a friend to talk about something other than business. Reply to people posts with helpful information or a witty response. By connecting with others, online and offline, we can feel just that little bit stronger and able to cope when we feel inferior. Laughter is optional but recommended.
Yes, I said it! Get yourself completely organised for the task or project ahead. By breaking the project into steps and organising your time efficiently you will feel more capable and in control of your work. Use a colourful weekly planner or your online calendar with each element broken into bite size chunks. You can even set little alarms so you know when to start the next task (NB: use these sparingly and set it to your favourite song or you might actually cause yourself more stress rather than gaining control of your work). There is no chance to feel overwhelmed or inferior when you have everything mapped out in front of you.
Consider outsourcing to a virtual assistant
If the project that you have just accepted is substantial in size and time consuming you might consider taking on a virtual assistant. Running a small business can require menial administration tasks that don’t go well with larger projects. Do an audit of all the small daily business tasks you need to complete and see if hiring someone to get through these for you is an option. If you don’t have time to upload new content on your website or keep your social media accounts buzzing with fresh content, then I suggest hiring a virtual assistant to help you out. They can jump in for a short time to remove some of the stress that is looming overhead. Like getting yourself organised, an absolute must, you will feel more in control and less like running for that hiding place.
Give yourself a break
Everyone must start somewhere. Maybe you are skilled but need the practical experience. In order to succeed and grow we need to take on challenges and get right out of our comfort zone. If we don’t feel the fear and do it anyway we ultimately get stuck in the same place going on the fast track to nowhere.
How do you know you can’t do something new if you never try to do it at all? So, go take a break, have a bath, watch a movie. But get back up the next morning with all the persistence you can muster because your starting place … it is here and now. The magic is just around the corner so keep going!
You are not an impostor or a fraud. You are a success.
You got this!