(FYI: stay until the end for a free gift from me to you XOXOXO)
Imposter syndrome is a term you’ll hear a LOT of when you take your first steps into the entrepreneurial world. Well, that’s because Imposter Syndrome is a major aspect of the entrepreneurial world. It doesn’t matter how successful or experienced someone is, we all experience self-doubt.
And so, I’m going to tell you why Imposter syndrome is actually a good thing, and share 5 tips for how to deal with it.
But first let’s go over…
What IS Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter Syndrome describes feelings of self-doubt that arise when trying something new. Fear of failure creeps in, making you want to crawl under your blanket and forget trying that “new something” altogether.
It’s also referred to as “Resistance”. Imposter Syndrome/Resistance/Self-Doubt is our brain’s way of letting us know we’re stepping out of our comfort zone. Imposter Syndrome feels especially powerful when we’re attempting to go against societal norms. Ya know, like starting the businesses we’ve always dreamed of, for example.
These feelings are instinctual in humans, and it’s our moody little “lizard” brain’s fault, lol. Imposter Syndrome feels crappy, but’s actually just our brain’s way of “keeping us safe” from “harm”.
(both physical and emotional)
And sometimes… the thought of failing is so painful that our brains are like ABORT ABORT ABORT. Don’t even THINK about it! Go BACK!
But even if Imposter Syndrome resides in all of us, it’s not insurmountable. Quite frankly, I’ve started to recognize it as a good thing, and it’s empowering.
Why Having Imposter Syndrome IS Actually… Kind Of Awesome
I’m talking about Imposter Syndrome because, until I turned 29 (and a half), it dictated every aspect of my life. It was like having a choke-collar around my neck. … and it was painful. If you’re reading this, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.
So, even though I knew I wasn’t cut out for the 9-5 grind, I tried stuffing myself into that box to fit in.
Why? Because failing at what I was truly passionate about seemed worse than never trying to pursue it.
So I spent my whole life trying to “stay safe” from failure.
… but hiding away in my “comfort zone” meant I was anything but comfortable.
I ended up depressed, hopeless, and unsure of who I was (yeah, not a good look)… I felt like the failure I always feared being.
In spite of all those icky feelings, the idea of “taking a risk” and pursuing my passion just… wasn’t an option in my brain. It wasn’t even something I considered because felt that it would be irresponsible to try- even selfish.
SO WTF HAPPENED THAT CHANGED MY MIND?
But that changed when I found out that I was preggo with my first kid. Soon I learned that my employer wasn’t willing to provide some work-from-home flexibility. I didn’t know what to do. I was scared…
But after lots of thinkin’, and words of encouragement from friends, I realized that: if I wanted to stay with my kid and contribute financially, self-employment was my only option.
And ya know what..?
Every step out of my comfort zone I took, the more like my “real” self I felt… and Imposter Syndrome was yanking on my leash each day, trying to yank me back into place.
So, here’s where Imposter Syndrome evolved into a “good thing” for me. My non-lizard brain started noticing a correlation between pursuing a new (unorthodox) career path, and positive results. AKA: I did something I would’ve been too intimidated to do before, and when I saw myself “not failing”, I was motivated to keep moving.
Imposter Syndrome still visits me (and it can feel just as abrasive and cruel), but I try to be grateful for it. I now recognize that when I feel self-doubt rise… I’m going in the right direction. The direction that will take me to my goals.
Every sensation of resistance is like one big billboard saying “THIS WAY, KENZ!”
Alright, now onto the tips…
How To Deal With Imposter Syndrome
Tip # 1: Allow Yourself To Feel It
We are all very quick to avoid or nullify negative emotions. Especially those centered around our own self-doubt. If you’re anything like me, we often feel guilty for feeling negative thoughts at all. That’s associated with toxic-positivity, and you’ll notice some of THAT in the entrepreneurial world, too.
But the simple fact is: you can’t fight Imposter Syndrome if you don’t face it. And that means you have to give yourself the time to notice the feeling and identify it for what it is, because much of the time, Imposter Syndrome is sneaky and doesn’t always show itself for what it is.
Acknowledge your negative feelings, don’t beat yourself up for having them, and show yourself the same compassion and love you’d show a friend if they were going through it.
Tip # 2: Take A Break
Starting your own business is overwhelming no matter how many productivity apps you use or how much water you drink. When we’re at our wit’s end is when Imposter Syndrome decides to roll up in a tacky 3-piece suit and uses you as an armrest.
Sometimes the best thing to do is step away for a while. Go for a walk, go for a stretch, or do something that takes your mind off of stuff. If you’re finding that acknowledging your Imposter Syndrome isn’t doing the trick, it’s more than okay to just take a break.
Just don’t let that break turn into avoidance. Always find that courage inside to get back in the saddle.
Tip # 3: Track Your Accomplishments
DO NOT underestimate the power of checklists. I STRONGLY recommend saving all of your projects/accomplishments somewhere you can easily access them. Trello is great for this. Think of them like data-driven affirmations! Keeping track of your victories (big or small) gives you the empirical evidence to remember that you’re a badass.
Next time you feel self-doubt, open up your list of accomplishments and appreciate how far you’ve come.
Tip # 4: Stay Connected With Other Entrepreneurs
The life of an entrepreneur is isolating- especially with the way things have been going with COVID. That’s why it’s great to connect with others in your industry. A sense of community helps remind you that you’re not alone, and we’re all in this together.
For example: I never really “got” Twitter. I just couldn’t get into it. But this past month (after experiencing some really brutal Imposter Syndrome, myself) I ended up on Twitter one evening after finishing my work…
Before I realized it, I found an incredible community of marketers, writers, and creatives who I GREATLY enjoy interacting with daily. It helps A LOT to hear about peer experiences. It reminds you that, even if you’re a solopreneur or work-from-home freelancer, you’re still part of a community.
Don’t underestimate how powerful those connections are.
Tip # 5: Practice Confidence-Boosting Meditation or Yoga
I really like meditation because it doesn’t require a lot of time out of your day to be beneficial. Even 5 minutes of meditation or yoga each day does wonders for your mental health.
Not to mention, there are TONS of free confidence-building meditation and yoga sessions on YouTube. While you might find meditation tough in the beginning, you’ll notice a difference in your ability to recognize, reflect, and cope with negative emotions like Imposter Syndrome.
Bonus Tip: Find Ways To Stop Imposter Syndrome Before It Starts
Much of the time, Imposter Syndrome shows up when we feel overwhelmed, or a little unsure of what to do next. A great way to deal with Imposter Syndrome is avoiding it whenever possible. That doesn’t mean IGNORE it (remember tip 1), it means don’t give it an opportunity to creep up.
How do I do that? By using tools that help me stay organized, motivated, and in control. If you’d like to learn about those tools, check out my blog post 10 Free Apps For Freelancers In 2021. I don’t know what I’d do without these apps, so I have no doubt you’ll find something you’ll love!
(see, aren’t you glad you stuck around to the end?)
Just Remember… You’re Not Alone
The most important thing I want you to take from this post is: you are not alone. Even the most successful entrepreneurs feel Imposter Syndrome, it’s natural. And when you start realizing that feeling resistance means that you’re moving toward what really matters… you’ll start to feel a little jolt of… weird-ish excitement.
Stay focused, stay you, believe in yourself.
I believe in you.