I am doing some art work in my spare time. I saw it more as a way to spend time and do a bit of «crafting», rather than as art, until I showed them to my family and some friends. Their feedback was amazing and it showed me once again that we should have more confidence in the things we do. No matter if it’s leisure or work.
Do you often feel like you don’t believe in your own strengths and abilities? Then let’s clarify why we doubt ourselves so often and how we can become more confident.
What is Impostor Syndrom?
If you think that you or your work is never good enough, or you are convinced that you cannot do something (well) or your contribution is not valuable or you are not successful, this is called Impostor Syndrome.
Is Impostor Syndrom real?
I am sure that the Impostor Syndrome is real. However, I am not so sure about the reasons for it. In the design industry we meet this buzzword everywhere and somehow it is used almost in an inflationary way. Everyone claims to have Impostor Syndrome, as if it were fancy to «belong».
It feels like every other design conference has at least one talk dedicated to designers› lack of confidence, online you can find meet-ups or sessions on the topic every week, and the market is just overflowing with coaching, blog posts and books promising the best life and work hacks to overcome Impostor Syndrome.
Do we really all have so little confidence in ourselves that we can fuel an entire industry with it? Or maybe we just think that because we keep being told we do.
To read further on this topic I recommend a great article by Ruchika Tulshyan and Jodi-Ann Burey published in the Harvard Business Review, called Stop Telling Women They Have Imposter Syndrome.
I believe that we often believe too little in ourselves and that there is actually no rational reason for this. Whether that always has to be called an imposter? I don’t know. But what I do know is that this attitude can have an impact on our work.
The impact of missing self-confidence
You can’t pursue your best ideas, be truly creative, or let your thoughts run free if your energy is flowing into the wrong or rather unimportant things. But that’s what often happens when we’re not confident enough.
We tend to think about what others think about us, our ideas or about our work, instead of putting them into action. Also out of fear of making a fool of ourselves or doing something wrong.
People who don’t believe in themselves also have a harder time convincing others of their worth. This naturally affects your chances of success in the job search.
If you seem insecure in the interview, don’t «sell» your skills and don’t show your own abilities enough, you will have a hard time convincing a new employer about you.
Perfectionism and procrastination
We often tend to invest an enormous amount of energy in things that we don’t think we can do properly or well enough. Perfectionism is definitely a sign that we are not self-confident enough and invest more energy in a task than is actually necessary – after all, we want to be convincing.
On the other hand, there is always the fear of failure and, well, often the first reaction is not to start at all. After all, if you don’t do anything, you won’t make any mistakes.
Psyche is truly mean. 😭 So what to do about it?
😎 Being more confident
I find the tip that you shouldn’t compare yourself to others pretty useless. We do it anyway.
Therefore, when comparing, it would be important to look at the other side realistically. Instagram is not real life and just because someone has 300 likes on LinkedIn doesn’t make them a better designer.
Talk to others
It is our self-perception that makes us think we are not good enough. This is our own blind spot. Social interactions therefore help a lot to understand how others perceive us and also our work.
Give it a try, start networking with others and ask for feedback or find a mentor with whom you discuss your work, approach and methods – it does wonders.
Celebrate your wins
I’m sure you’ve already accomplished a lot in your life. The best thing to do is to make a list of things you’ve achieved in the last year, for example. Did you work on a project, got a new job, graduated, wrote a case study or helped someone with your skills?
Celebrate the small and big wins in your day-to-day (job) life and be aware of where you’ve gotten to now. (Even if things might not be going your way right now).
Impostor syndrome is real, for sure. And it can have an immense impact on your work and life. But it doesn’t have to. It’s important to recognize whether or not it’s good for you to be constantly confronted with this issue, or if it’s better for you to just do your thing.
Use small and simple opportunities in everyday life to boost your self-confidence and just try things out. After all, you can’t do more than go wrong — and then try again.
Your strengths are there, but you have to let them be and use them.