5 Questions to Help You Assess Your Imposter Syndrome
By Lisa Savage | Aug 18, 2021
As a licensed therapist specializing in career development, I spend countless hours working and engaging with professionals about their career development and goals – from changing careers to asking for a raise or becoming an entrepreneur. For professionals seeking to succeed in their careers, you may have feelings of self-doubt or question if they can rise to current or future challenges. You might ask yourself one or more of the following questions:
“Am I even qualified for this opportunity?”
“Did I earn this accomplishment and recognition?”
“I’ve been successful in the past, but was that due to luck?”
This experience is defined as “impostor syndrome”, the collection of feelings of inadequacy, particularly around one’s academic or professional abilities (Corkindale, 2008). These feelings and thoughts are common, especially for professionals in an in-between phase in their professional development. Despite having numerous accomplishments and accolades, someone experiencing impostor syndrome may attribute their success to pure luck or interpret it as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent than they are (Weir, 2013). When in reality, you’ve put in hard work, dedication, and effort to reach success.
During periods of transition like starting a new job, you may feel like an impostor or tempted to compare yourself to others – it happens! However, it is important to self-reflect and ask yourself thought-provoking questions to internalize your success. Here are five questions to ask yourself to assess how imposter syndrome is showing up in your career:
Do I tend to avoid or embrace new challenges? When an exciting opportunity comes around, do you tend to question if you are “good enough”? It is important to remember that everyone can feel anxious about trying something new. It is important to understand what is getting in the way of you trying and giving it your best shot.
Read more about Black Professionals and Self Esteem on COC’s Blog Site Here.
Do I actively keep track of my accomplishments and achievements? Taking note of your accomplishments is more important than you may realize. Create an easy way for you to keep track of your achievements. You can use this as a reference when you are updating your resume/cover letter, preparing for an interview or networking with professionals in your field
When was the last time I stepped out of my professional comfort zone? It is important to engage in new challenges and opportunities so that you can diversify your skillset. Be sure to start small — this can be taking a leadership role in an organization you are passionate about, writing a blog, or presenting at a conference.
Do I have a mentor or a trusted person to talk to? Find a mentor who can listen, advise and guide you throughout this journey. If you currently have a mentor, this is the perfect topic to discuss with them and find support. Mentors typically have several years of experience and are able to provide you with support and guidance as you navigate your career.
How do I celebrate my achievements? Always remember to celebrate when you have reached a new milestone. Whether that is with a friend, family member, or your therapist, create a space to acknowledge how far you’ve come. Everyone has moments of doubt, but it is important to not let it impact your actions. Take time to reflect on how you can apply these tips now and throughout each stage of your personal and professional development.
Overcoming imposter syndrome is about being kind to yourself, setting realistic expectations, and recognizing how far you’ve already come. Even me – a licensed therapist – needs support. We don’t need to do this work alone and we shouldn’t have to. To work with a clinician of color, visit our website at www.cliniciansofcolor.org.
Wire, K. (2013). Feel like a fraud? American Psychological Association. Retrieved from: https://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2013/11/fraud
Corkindale, G. (2008). Overcoming impostor syndrome. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: https://hbr.org/2008/05/overcoming-imposter-syndrome
About The Author
Fatim Lelenta is a higher education professional with experience in various departments which include Career Development and the Wellness/Counseling Centers. She works at NYU, is a member of the Graduate Career Consortium, National Career Development Association and a part of the NACE Mentorship Program and has a license in Mental Health Counseling from New York State. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.