What we know matters but who we are matters more. ~ Brene Brown
It’s been over a decade since I got my first job as a journalist for a local newspaper. At the time I was thrilled but also baffled as to how I had landed such a sought-after gig. For a long time I lived with the constant fear that someone would tap me on the shoulder and say: What are you doing here and who let you in? You’re not a journalist!
That feeling that you’re about to be found out – also known as imposter syndrome is very common, particularly among women. It tends to rear its head when we’re in transition, starting a new job, a new career move or taking on more responsibility.
For me, imposter syndrome had a major impact on my work performance, my confidence and my career satisfaction. The funny thing was when I shared how I felt with a couple of my colleagues, they told me they felt like imposters too! It made me realise I had wasted a lot of time feeling inadequate for no reason.
This feeling of not being ready or good enough can really hinder your success unless you catch it before it spirals out of control. How can you pursue bigger and better opportunities if you’re convinced you don’t have what it takes?
Here are 3 ways you can tackle this and get over imposter syndrome or the feeling of not being ‘ready’ for a career move:
1) Get out and talk to people
When you’ve been in a job for a while, you can get a bit one-eyed and start to believe everyone in your industry thinks the same way, when of course that’s not true. Meeting new people and networking will give you a much broader and more objective view of your skills and what you have to offer. You might find that other hiring managers’ opinions of your knowledge and experience differ greatly from those at your current workplace. When you start connecting and talking to people it’s also going to become obvious just how much opportunity is actually out there which will (hopefully) boost your confidence.
2) Get real about your fears about a career move
Next you need to get real with yourself. What are you really afraid of? From what I’ve observed in myself and others, this feeling of not being ready stems from a fear of what other people will think. Peers, clients, managers and co-workers. What will they think if you have the nerve to go for an opportunity that on some level you feel you haven’t earned yet? This is why it’s so important to unhook from any need from approval from others. A lot of the time it’s not going to be forthcoming in any event. What you think about what you’re doing is much more important. Sure, other people may be triggered by your actions, but that just reflects their own fears and has nothing to do with you.
3) Practice kindness and self-love
The next step is to pour on the love. The only antidote to feeling insecure and fearful is to give yourself a break. Tune out your inner critic. Love yourself through the changes and accept your limitations for what they are – a temporary state of affairs.
I get that it’s not always easy to do especially if you’re a perfectionist, but the good news is the more you practice being kind to yourself the easier it gets and mercifully, the less influence your inner critic will have over your decisions.
No one is perfect no matter what you see on the surface and your success in the end won’t be based on whether you have a smooth transition into a new role, but on how you handle the inevitable challenges you face day to day.
Even if you don’t have much experience in your industry, you still have value to offer in your next career move. Employers don’t hire you solely based on your experience, they hire you for the person that you are.
So if you worry that you’re not good enough, remember the contribution you can make goes far beyond anything it might say on your resume.
How do you handle that feeling of not being ‘good enough’ for your next career move?