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4 steps to overcome feeling like an imposter at work


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We can all feel like an imposter at times, especially in the workplace when your career is just beginning. However, it is important to stay calm and build your confidence rather than tear it down.

This is why Zena Everett, motivational speaker and executive coach who specialises in career confidence, work goals productivity and performance issues, has come up with a list of ways to help you feel in control.

According to her, we can all fall victim to negative thoughts that get in our way. Like giant banana skins, they will eventually cause you to stumble on your path, thus spotting them and chucking them away is essential. 

Zena believes that in order to do this, a few simple steps must be taken:

1. Overcome emotional reasoning

A common, negative thought pattern, or thinking trap, is emotional reasoning. This means that just because we feel something, we think it is real. 

Examples include: 

I feel like a failure; therefore I am one.

I feel like an imposter; therefore I am one.

The biggest problem with emotional reasoning is that it causes us to act in a way we otherwise wouldn't, thus creating the outcomes we feared.

If we start to feel like something, then the danger is that we start to behave like it. It's a vicious circle. You feel like an imposter, so you behave like one. You don't speak up at meetings, you don't make eye contact with senior people and you avoid drawing attention to yourself. Your body language betrays you and you lose the respect of those around you.

In short, you self-sabotage. 

2. Trust in the judgement of your employer

Feelings are not facts and don't reflect reality.

Bearing this in mind, it is important to dispassionately examine the evidence in order to arrive at a more accurate assessment.

Whether you FEEL like you deserve to be there or not, you ARE there. You have been hired in the role and have been given responsibilities. As such you should think about how you got there, and who has helped you achieve this goal.

Consider your boss for example. Do you think they are an idiot? Would they give you this job if they didn't trust you or if you hadn't proven you were worthy of that trust?

Of course not! No one risks their business and reputation on people they do not think are capable of doing the job. Thus, if they have hired you, they believe you will make a good employee. Remember this next time you're having a confidence crisis, because even if you can't trust in your own skills, you can trust in their judgement.

3. Recognise your worth

Think about how hard you have worked to get where you are, and how many things you have sacrificed or put to the side on your path to achieving this goal.

Think about what you have achieved in your job, to provide you with data that proves how good you are.

Additionally, consider the skills you have learnt so far, and how many more you will be able to acquire while at work. 

Remember that you are human and that very few people are perfect or start a job entirely qualified.

Everyone has to start somewhere, and as long as you are willing to work hard and learn quickly you should have no concerns about being right for the role.

4. Dress for success

Lastly, you should start to behave how a successful person with your job title would behave.

Remember you are in a role, so role-play. Dress like an outstanding performer: make the same impression they would make and act like them.

We are a sum of our repeated actions. Act like a successful person in that role and you will eventually believe you are one.

Often, getting over the mental road blocks is half the battle. Once that is done, the rest is surprisingly simple. 

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