Imposter Syndrome And Career Development

Do other people in your life seem to think you’re brilliant and have amazing achievements under your belt, even while you remain convinced that you are fooling everyone? Are you sure, no matter what level of success you achieve, that you are a fraud and that it’s only a matter of time until everyone else discovers your ignorance?

If you answered “yes” to both of the questions above, you may be suffering from imposter syndrome. While this psychological phenomenon can cause you to feel inadequate and undeserving, it can also hurt your career by:

  • causing you to procrastinate or avoid doing work for fear of failure
  • preventing you from enjoying the fruits of your labors
  • preventing you from rising to realistic expectations
  • preventing you from taking on extra challenges, new job offers or promotions.

Consequently, for those dealing with imposter syndrome, getting treatment is essential for proper, optimum career development.

Negative Effects of Imposter Syndrome

People suffering from imposter syndrome may purposefully lower expectations about their performance to avoid experiencing feelings of failure. For “imposters,” the fear of failure is very daunting, and criticism or evaluations are frequently avoided.

By lowering expectations, an individual will constantly perform at a lower level than his capabilities would otherwise allow. This behavior actually worsens imposter syndrome feelings, because sufferers will use their inadequate job performances as evidence that they are undeserving, further convincing themselves that they are incapable of anything more than mediocre.

Imposter syndrome may also cause some individuals to self-sabotage when it comes to success. These people are so convinced that they are not capable of succeeding that this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Treating Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome can impede career development in a variety of ways. In order to overcome symptoms and further your career, you may want to consider getting treatment. Proper treatment can help you avoid negative thinking and keep negative self-images from affecting your work. Here are some tips for effectively treating imposter syndrome:

  • Consider seeing a therapist: Once you recognize that you suffer from imposter phenomena, make an appointment with a therapist. Your therapist can identify whether you do suffer from this condition, as well as the best methods of treatment for you. Therapists may ask you to keep a diary, join a support group or intentionally challenge yourself so you learn how to overcome your fears and negative thoughts.
  • Find a mentor: Sometimes having the input of another person who’s experienced the disease can help you know that you’re not alone. When you hear a more experienced person’s anecdotes of failure and success and see where he is today, it can help you move beyond your feelings of inadequacy.
  • Stop downplaying: Underestimating yourself because you’re afraid of disappointing others’ expectations can place a chokehold on your career trajectory. If people familiar with your work seem to think you’re capable of doing a task, choose to assume they’re right and you’re wrong, especially if you know you tend to see yourself as a fake. If most of your peers believe in your capabilities and intelligence, it’s time you did too.

Although imposter syndrome can be overwhelming, with help, most patients can overcome their feelings of inadequacy, allowing them to achieve great things and fully develop their careers.