Finding Work That You Love: Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Even if you’ve never heard of Imposter Syndrome, chances are you’ve had a brush with it or will notice it’s effects as you journey into self-employment. Imposter Syndrome is a term coined to explain the feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy and the fear of failure (and even success) which can hold us back from achieving our greatest potential. It’s the feeling that one day you will be ‘found out’ as not being qualified to do what you do. Find out more about Imposter Syndrome so you can stop it from holding you back.

Imposter Syndrome can be recognised in a number of ways – see if you can identify with some of the most common symptoms which include:

  • not feeling good enough or feeling like a ‘fraud’
  • not accepting praise when it’s given 
  • putting your success down to ‘luck’
  • worrying you might one day get ‘found out’
  • comparing yourself to others and feeling like you don’t measure up
  • playing down your achievements or talents 

There are a few things you might want to know about Imposter Syndrome to stop it from holding you back from taking the leap and making a success out of setting up your own business:

1. It’s much more common than you might think

There are many people who suffer from Imposter Syndrome with at least a third of millennials experiencing it in the workplace(¹). Some of the most successful entrepreneurs and business people do too (as Susy Smith, Editor of Country Living magazine recently testified to in the latest edition of Kitchen Table Talent), so you are in good company! Ask for help – there will be people out there who can support you with this and who want you to succeed. If nothing else, talking about it out loud will release something inside and help you start to move past it.

2. Recognising Imposter Syndrome is actually a good sign 

If you recognise the symptoms of Imposter Syndrome, it may actually be a good sign as it probably means that you have integrity and strong values and you care about what you do. These are all great qualities in an entrepreneur! Imposter Syndrome is typically associated with high achievers, so cut yourself some slack and acknowledge the positive drivers behind these feelings. 

3. It will never be the ‘perfect’ time to take a leap

Don’t wait until you are fully qualified, more experienced, more this or more that to take a leap into self-employment (or anything else you’re looking to achieve). There will never be a ‘perfect’ time to take the leap. Now is all we have and there may always be obstacles.  Trust that you will learn through the process and accept that you may make mistakes but you will ultimately be moving forward. Sometimes it’s best to just leap and the net will appear!

Looking for ways to overcome Imposter Syndrome? Find out how below or click here for an infographic.

And finally, here are a few ways in which you can start to overcome Imposter Syndrome:
  • Start to accept praise more and own your successes
  • Stay aware and keep a journal of your thoughts and feelings
  • Celebrate your achievements along the way (both large and small)
  • Take an inventory of your skills and strengths
  • Create yourself an affirmation which acknowledges your strengths
  • Stop comparing yourself to others!



¹ Source: The Independent, A Third Of Millenials Suffering From ‘Imposter Syndrome’ In the Workplace, 2017

Client Spotlight

Helen Foster, Rollerdog Design

The Challenge

Helen Foster, Owner of Rollerdog Design (www.rollerdog.co.uk) is a bright and talented illustrator and graphic designer and has been designing and illustrating for over 20 years. Helen has had some great clients along the way and has recently launched a beautiful new range of homeware. To the outside world, Helen comes across as very capable and sure of what she does and most people wouldn’t question that she has earned her place in the art and design world. And yet Helen has experienced Imposter Syndrome in a way which has at times slowed down her ability to grow her business.  

The Solution

During our coaching sessions, I encouraged Helen to make a list of all of her client work and testimonials from over the years to remind her of how much great work she had produced. This created awareness of how the Imposter Syndrome was really just a reflection of Helen’s own inner critic rather than any genuine external feedback or judgements. Out of that also came an affirmation that Helen uses whenever she feels the Imposter Syndrome kicking in and to keep her on track.  

The Benefits

These simple steps have helped give Helen back the self-confidence to move Rollerdog to the next level and to stop being held back by crippling self-doubt and the fear that her work wasn’t good enough. Helen was able to launch her new collection to the world last Spring and sales at Rollerdog are now starting to build momentum. So much so that Helen has now added two new ranges to her collection as her fan base continues to grow.

My first conversation with Rebecca about Imposter Syndrome resonated with me in two ways: firstly, making me recognise that I’m certainly not alone, and secondly diminishing the syndrome’s power by realising many of the negative perceptions associated with it aren’t actually real.

Helen Foster

About the Author

Rebecca Kirk is a Life, Career & Creative Coach dedicated to enabling people to find happiness through their work and make a living doing what they love.  Find out more about Rebecca and the one-to-one coaching programmes available.   

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