"Hasn't anybody else noticed that I don't belong here?" Impostor syndrome, or feeling like a fraud at work, at home, or anywhere else in your life, will probably affect you at some point. A lack of trust in one's abilities and achievements is far more common among women than men. Research has shown that as women, we're more inclined to listen to this voice. At 25, when I started my own company, a social network that helps women elevate their careers, I faced self-doubt (along with plenty of naysayers). I learned to be resilient--to acknowledge and push aside the self-questioning I routinely engaged in. Two years later, it happens less frequently--but when it does, these four tips help keep my motivation, productivity, and belief in myself high.
|1. Embrace moments of doubt.|
There will be stretches when it's tough to present a self-assured you, but those times aren't always negative. If you're not certain about something, it might mean you should reach out to a person you trust for advice. I'm never 100 percent convinced my vision is the best one. When you have doubts, embrace and investigate them, and then move forward.
|2. See beyond the setback.|
When faced with an obstacle or uncertainty in your abilities, use it as an opportunity to grow your talents. I left the comfort of a secure position in business consulting to start my company, risking my career in an area that I had little experience in. But by shifting my thinking from being scared ("I can't do this") to being enthusiastic ("I can figure this out"), I progressed.
|3. Find a mentor.|
Mentors build confidence, according to research. And confidence kills impostor syndrome. Snagging an advisor isn't as daunting as it may seem--just ask. You can't expect someone to come find you! But before you do, remove all expectations of what this person looks like. Mentors come in all shapes, sizes, genders, and levels of experience. The key is spotting someone with magnetic leadership qualities and an aptitude for helping those who are following in their footsteps.
|4. Never aim for perfect.|
That will guarantee failure almost every time. Be the best you can be, but acknowledge that you will make mistakes, and then know which errors to let go of. There will be typos in e-mails, meetings you are late for, daily to-do lists that don't get completed. Cut yourself some slack and, more important, reward yourself along the way. It's crucial to stay focused on overarching goals, but it is equally necessary to celebrate the small wins, too.
Caroline Ghosn is the CEO and cofounder of Levo League, a social network dedicated to elevating the careers of Gen Y professionals. Visit levoleague.com.