Every December my manager requires I write self assessment on my contributions for the year. This always takes me a while because it forces me to sit down and write down all my successes and the positive impact I’ve made in the business. I find that hard to do because I have a severe case of imposter syndrome, and feeling like I’m in over my head all the time.
Imposter Syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.Wikipedia
That’s me every day. Insecure. Scared. Overwhelmed. I’ve struggled this year more than usual because I lost my support network and knowledgebase. My mentor and my manager retired. Close co-workers were laid off. That’s like 30-40 years of experience out the door. My office shut down and I was going to start working remotely full time. Covid closed down borders, so I couldn’t visit the rest of my team in the US. I had to pull up my socks and get to work. I wanted to prove to others (and myself) that I was capable of handling a demanding job and fill a gap that was impossible to fill. You can tell this is going to go well right? I felt isolated. I can’t tell you how many mornings I would sit in front of my laptop crying, feeling inadequate and not giving myself some grace to be imperfect. I wanted to quit so many times. Learning new things takes time and practice. I needed to be kind to myself but some days I just had paralyzing fear that I’d be fired. Was that ever even a possibility? No. My husband would always tell me to just do the best I can, and that I was enough. That everyone is an imposter just trying to figure things out. Looking back through the year, I can see that I’ve come so far. I have been learning, and developing new skills over time. I’ve grown! This self assessment is a valuable tool to assess the real impact of my contributions and also where I can continue growing.
The imposter syndrome is in my head. It’s exhausting and unhelpful. Someone said it was the thief of joy. Professionally I’ve been delivering and people have been pleased with my performance. Is there room for improvement? Always! But I’ve probably told myself that I’m not good at my job enough times that my brain has tricked itself into believing the lie. Which brings me to self limiting beliefs. They’re stories you’ve told yourself which hold you back from achieving success. I’ve only just recently heard of this concept and the truth bomb hit me in the face.
Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.Henry Ford
There are a multitude of resources out there to help with overcoming this negative mindset. I had a wonderful Zoom chat last night with a girlfriend whom I admire so much and we talked about goals and fears. Not just professional ones, but friends, family, financial, fitness, etc. A lot of this self awareness will come from being brutally honest with myself and it could be an uncomfortable place to marinate. I have to recognize my fears and give evidence to support why those beliefs and fears are utter BS. So when those pesky thoughts come back, I have a new pathway to a kinder and gentler voice backed by facts.
One source of my suffering is thinking that I am a people pleaser. That in order to be likeable, I would have to be agreeable, no matter how I truly felt. In January, when my coworkers left, my new manager implied that I would be able to pick up all the work. At first I was scared, but said yes with my can-do attitude. I wasn’t sure what I signed up for. But then with schools closing in the spring, my children were home and having a hard time keeping engaged with remote learning. I had super mom guilt, as I was sitting across the hall from them but I was unable help. Working remotely resulted in a rammed calendar where meetings were scheduled back to back. I had to block off lunch as a self care break because people didn’t know how to respect that time, and would ask me to work through. I felt like a shitty mom. I had to be more assertive and throw up some boundaries. I told my manager that I couldn’t lead projects while I was dealing with daily operations. I also had a lot going on at home. It made me feel like a failure because I was saying no. I hated the idea of letting the business down but I’m glad I did create that boundary because I was able to keep my sanity. When I went to him to have this conversation, guess what? He was totally ok with it and very supportive.
As I head into the holidays, I’ll be completing several iterations of my self assessment. My work one and my personal one. Today, I was searching for some self help podcasts and I came across the very first episode of Rise and Conquer called “Stop quitting! Set yourself up to achieve your goals in 2019”. Yes it’s a year old but I found it super relatable and empowering. It’s one that I have to re-listen to when I’m not driving and take down all the notes. 2021 is a new year and I’m going to make some changes to achieve my goals!
Do you ever have imposter syndrome, or can identify what self limiting beliefs you have? What tips do you have for a more positive mindset?
Merry Christmas and stay safe!!