Okay so we’ve been talking about imposter syndrome for a few weeks now – see here for my thoughts on the incredible Reshma Saujani’s Smith College Commencement speech, and here for some signs that you’re suffering from it. Now, finally, let’s talk some strategies to overcome imposter syndrome, or at the very least, to reduce the negative effects.
Now Ms. Saujani’s argument was that we shouldn’t have to fix ourselves, but instead it’s society that needs to be fixed so it no longer breeds this kind of feeling in women. Of course I believe in the latter as well, but I think it’s a combo. Especially for women solopreneurs who need this sh*t to go away now before it ruins our chance at financial and emotional success in our businesses.
So here are a few tips that help me reduce imposter syndrome. Hopefully something in here can help if it’s something you’re really suffering from:
- Practice – when I was first starting out in bookkeeping and worried that I was completely stupid and had no business charging anyone for my help, I scheduled a handful of free consultations with women who couldn’t afford a bookkeeper yet, but needed some general advice that would help them manage their business finances. Now, I don’t generally recommend giving away anything for free (see here for more about that), but when you’re brand brand new and terrified, practicing with a low-pressure situation (because you’re not getting paid), can ease you into it. Plus, I did these free consults in exchange for testimonials, which helped me get some social proof AND gave me a confidence boost to know I actually knew what I was talking about and could help people with my knowledge.
- Celebrate yourself – I talked last week about how downplaying our accomplishments is one of the symptoms of imposter syndrome. So go the other way – celebrate every single win in your business, or in whatever you’re working toward. Celebrate every new client, every new milestone, every time you complete a project, every time you were brave and tried something new. Do it in a big way – a dinner out, a weekend away, a massage – or a small way – a pedicure or even just a little happy dance. Mark these small wins, because if you’re waiting for the BIG one, you might be waiting forever – not because you won’t ever get there, but because trust me, you’re going to keep moving that goalpost.
- Stick it to the man – Ms. Saujani’s point about imposter syndrome being a natural (and toxic) byproduct of the patriarchy’s b#llsh*t. So every time you’re scared to do something new, think about how doing it anyway makes you brave. It’s you giving a GIANT middle finger to the systems and policies and perpetual negative messaging that’s meant to keep up down. I don’t want you existing in a state of anger, because that feels icky. But sometimes anger makes you brave. It’s that little push that gets you out of your feelings about yourself and ges you into showing someone else that you deserve better.