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Overcoming Imposter Syndrome. 5 Tips to Achieve Your Aspirational Goals

It’s tough for women navigating in the world of business whilst climbing the 'talent' pipeline even with Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging (DEI&B) initiatives in place to support their progress.

Three women sat around a laptop outside

Look at our representation at the top, the numbers are not rising at the speed we would like.


We have to reluctantly admit it, and research backs up these mumbles, women still continue to face unique challenges and barriers that can hinder their progress and success. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) it will take another 136 years to close the global gender gap! We haven't got that kind of time!


How Imposter Syndrome Impacts Your Business

Whether you are in the corporate space or looking to launch or grow your own business, there will come a moment in time where you will have a feeling of self-doubt to external judgement and opinion.


Sadly the terminology ‘imposter syndrome’ can be seen as victim blaming and creates more problems for women when it keeps showing up and begins to affect their wellbeing.


Remember imposter syndrome is an inner feeling of unworthiness or incompetence; feelings of being a fraud despite being highly skilled, experienced and often over-qualified. 


Women feel they are often in spaces where they have a feeling of anxiety and burnout which hinders the celebration of their accomplishments.


They worry that they’re not good enough and go to great lengths to hide it behind their 'multiple' masks. This just creates more problems because now these women now live in fear of being 'found out' or 'exposed'.


Sadly, this phenomenon exhibits diverse manifestations, persistently fuelling fear across various aspects of life, such as addictive behaviours including excess alcohol and food consumption, gambling, drug abuse and compulsive shopping, among others.


The insidious nature of these behaviours presents a tough challenge, potentially hindering future success if left unaddressed.

 

Research indicates that individuals grappling with addictive tendencies may face significant setbacks in their personal and professional endeavours.


For instance, according to a study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, substance abuse is associated with a decline in workplace productivity, resulting in substantial economic costs for both individuals and the company.


Furthermore, data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse highlights the pervasive impact of addiction on mental health, relationships and their overall well-being.


These statistics underscore the urgency of addressing addictive behaviours and their detrimental effects on individual growth and achievement.


By recognising the signs of addiction and seeking appropriate support and resources, individuals can embark on a path toward recovery and realise their full potential for future success.

 

Well we cannot stay stuck and we know a ‘one-size-fits-all’ will never work as a strategy when addressing overcoming imposter syndrome, but hey, let’s embark on a transformative journey with these five dynamic tips to help keep your aspirations at the forefront of their goals.


We hope these tips will support women with practical strategies to dismantle self-doubt, enabling them to boldly pursue their goals with greater confidence.

 

Let’s hope we can bid farewell to constraints and restrictions as we embrace a journey towards victory in all areas of our lives with increased resilience and unwavering resolve.


The moment has arrived to unleash your complete potential, conquer imposter syndrome and shape a future marked by your accomplishments and ambitions.

 

It’s time to unlock your potential in five powerful tips to crush imposter syndrome and achieve your aspirational goals.


#1 Understanding the Root of Our Fears

As women navigate the business and corporate world, they often encounter fears related to gender bias, imposter syndrome or the pressure to balance work and family responsibilities. 


Hybrid working has proven difficult for many women, especially women of colour. These include exclusion from top projects; not being ‘seen’ so feeling excluded from lucrative promotions and growing feelings of isolation if they are not over the ‘water cooler’.


For many women balancing work and personal commitments can be particularly challenging and increases the experience of fear and imposter syndrome as they keep telling people they are OK, but internally they are breaking down.


They may fear that they are not meeting perceived expectations in either spheres, leading to feelings of guilt and inadequacy. This fear of falling short in their professional, education or personal roles can contribute to increased stress, anxiety and burnout, further exacerbating their relationships can increase feelings of imposterism.


Be brave and drop the mask

Let’s face it, imposter syndrome remains a prevalent issue that affects women across various industries, levels of expertise, business sector and those looking for their next promotion.


Despite their accomplishments and qualifications, women experiencing imposter syndrome often struggle with persistent feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy, fearing that they will be exposed as frauds or undeserving of their success.

 

Ladies, we have to stop busyness and take valuable time STOP so we can honestly identify the specific fears holding you back and understand these underlying causes.


Whether it is childhood trauma, various levels of abuse or fear of trust and intimacy holding you back, without acknowledging and addressing these concerns head-on you will be struggling to keep consistency. 


Through mentoring, coaching or informal allyship women can use these techniques to break free from mental limitations; reclaim their power and confidence to pursue their goals in the long run. 


#2 Are Your Aspirational Goals Realistic?

In this competitive business and corporate environment, women are still questioning their skills, experience and qualifications for meaningful progress in business or the corporate space.


Unhealthy comparisons to peers, influencers or brand leaders is dangerous for their well being because it means they are starting from a feeling of inferiority when building their personal brand.  They started with an unrealistic expectation and ongoing these women will constantly worry that their achievements are merely due to luck or external factors, rather than their skills and hard work.

 

So How Are You Setting Your Goals?

Hold on, let’s take a moment to highlight McKinsey & Co’s “Busting Myths About Women In The Workplace” report which highlights some interesting trends especially when it comes to women setting their future goals.

 

The report highlighted that women ARE ambitious and still looking to get all the way to the very top. And that ambition is HIGHEST among women of colour. Based on nine years research, POSITIVE ambition has not been dampened.  Interestingly, women under 30 years of age are especially ambitious: nine in ten women want to be promoted to the next level, showcasing a strong drive for advancement and leadership roles early in their careers.


It does not stop there!

Imposter syndrome differs for female entrepreneurs as they navigate the challenges of starting and growing their businesses. Despite their innovative ideas and entrepreneurial spirit, they may doubt their abilities to lead and succeed in a competitive and often traditional environment. They may fear that they lack the expertise or experience needed to run a successful venture, leading to hesitation and self-sabotage.

 

Don’t despair, by focusing on achievable milestones, women can build momentum and overcome self-doubt, proving their capabilities, skills and worth in their chosen space.  Therefore it's essential to set realistic goals based on YOUR resources, time, circumstances and not some stranger you saw on social media and has no understanding of your lived experience. 


Whether you're aiming for a promotion or launching your own business, break your goals down into realistic and manageable steps. The good and heartfelt thing about this, is it will help you to celebrate your progress and small victories along the way.


#3 Turning Microaggression on its Head

Going back to the ‘Women in the Workplace’ report, women were 1.5 to 2 times more likely to experience microaggressions.


However women of colour and women with disabilities experience microaggressions at a higher rate than men and it can happen multiple times a day, multiple times a week and so on. So a basketful of microaggressions can have a macro impact on your career and business in the long term.


Microaggressions are often subconscious bullying and discrimination.  Women complain they are often mistaken for someone of the same race, colour, gender or someone with the same hair.


It could be a manager not defending your work or someone taking credit for your idea in a meeting. Interestingly, Asian and Black women are seven times as likely as White women to be confused with someone of the same race and ethnicity. 


Sadly, when women decide to self-shield to protect themselves from these types of slights they are 3.3 times more likely to consider leaving their company and 4.2 times more likely to feel burned out and they have a simultaneous feeling of impostor syndrome.


The truth is that women are trying to fit into structures and systems that were never designed for them.  That means your leadership style has to be more dynamic, open-minded and innovative in order to progress your goals. In addition allyship can play a great role in redirecting microaggression.


#4 Engaging in More Public Speaking and Networking

Believe it not women still feel intimidated by networking events or public speaking engagements, fearing that they will be judged or criticised by others e.g. voice, bag, shoes or the only woman of colour in the room etc.

This fear of being exposed as an imposter can hinder their ability to build professional relationships and seize opportunities for growth and advancement. 


This is why it hits their ability to positively embrace public speaking and networking.


Black and white photo os black women in a boardroom

Imposter syndrome can also negatively impact women’s interactions with colleagues, clients or industry peers. It often manifests itself as a berating voice in their heads, sending negative messages like "you're not smart enough" or "you're a fraud."


Negative self-talk is a bad habit and it can heavily increase their stress and anxiety levels and diminishing their productivity and joy.


Moving forward combating negative self-talk and challenging limiting beliefs will become more crucial as you go after your aspirational goals.


As part of their mental psychology they must learn to replace them with empowering declarations that reinforce their confidence, strengths and potential.


By nurturing a positive mindset, women can silence their inner critic and learn to embrace their value as leaders and entrepreneurs.


Other ways to overcome this is to practice positive self-talk like a guru (in the mirror) because women seeking to advance in their careers or growing their businesses need to project confidence, gravitas and positive attitude.


#5 Seeking Support

We can start by really valuing DEI&B and reflecting that in appointments and promotions by senior leaders.

 

According to the ‘Women in the Workplace’ report, the biggest inequity in career advancement for women of colour remains the broken rung—the very first step up into a manager position.


Proportionally, for every 100 men we see leap forward, only 87 women advance. And if you’re a woman of colour, it’s 73.


If you’re a Black woman, it’s only 54. It’s important to note that it starts at the very beginning of a career. The challenge women have with this is that it sets up a slower and harder pathway to climb the 'broken rung' to achieve their goals.

 

Let it go...

Stop hesitating to seek help or support from others. There is no shame in owning up to your fears, insecurities and admitting your struggles.


Some women will not do this because they feel it will undermines their ‘perceived’ credibility or reputation, leading to greater isolation and reluctance to ask for assistance when needed.


This reluctance to seek support due to ego or pride can perpetuate feelings of loneliness and self-doubt, making it harder to overcome imposter syndrome strategically.

 

This is where allyship is critical for long term learning and development especially those who are hybrid working. 


Don’t be passive, reach out and find supporters.


GenZ women are making this strategy work for them because they know that you have to get into a space and interact with colleagues to get some of the biggest benefits of mentorship, sponsorship, learning and observing how to get ahead.


So don’t be passive, building a strong support (formal and informal) network is crucial for women navigating the challenges of the business and corporate world.


Once you know what support you need aligned to your goals, seek out mentors, sponsors and peers who can guide your strategic vision; provide valuable guidance encouragement and insights from different industries spaces.


And that's not all....

Don't be afraid to share your fears and concerns with trusted colleagues or to seek professional support when needed. You don’t have to achieve your goals alone. 


By surrounding yourself with allies who believe in your abilities, you can overcome obstacles and achieve your goals with greater clarity and confidence.


Once you get your goals and support in gear, it's time to take care of yourself.


As women juggle various responsibilities and pressures in their professional lives, self-care becomes essential for maintaining balance and resilience.


Practice mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, spa, gym or other relaxation techniques to manage stress and anxiety.


By prioritising your well-being, you can recharge your energy and approach to challenges with greater clarity and confidence, ultimately enhancing your performance and success in the business world.


#5 Maintaining Work-Life Balance

Balancing work and personal life is a significant challenge for women grappling with imposter syndrome.


The constant fear of not meeting expectations in either domain amplifies feelings of guilt and inadequacy.


This pervasive fear of falling short professionally or personally becomes a breeding ground for stress, anxiety, and eventual burnout, intensifying their imposterism.

Women may find themselves in a perpetual cycle of overcompensation, striving for perfection in every aspect of their lives to prove their worth.


However, this relentless pursuit of perfection only deepens their feelings of inadequacy, perpetuating the imposter syndrome cycle.


Consequently, they may struggle to prioritise self-care and set boundaries, leading to further exhaustion and disconnection from their authentic selves.


Overcoming imposter syndrome requires a holistic approach that involves acknowledging and challenging these ingrained beliefs, cultivating self-compassion, and embracing vulnerability.


By fostering a healthier work-life balance and nurturing their well-being, women can break free from the shackles of imposterism and thrive both personally and professionally.


Finally, Talking Next Steps

Women are often operating in a competitive and often male-dominated business marketplace, where they must constantly overcome feelings of personal fear and self-doubt to achieve their full potential.


Understanding that imposter syndrome continues to play a significant role in fuelling fear and self-doubt in all areas of life, including career advancement, entrepreneurship, networking and a positive work-life balance will ensure women seek much needed support.


Recognising the signs of imposter syndrome and addressing its underlying causes are essential steps toward overcoming fear and embracing one's true worth, potential and confidence.


By unleashing the root of our fears, setting realistic goals, practicing positive self-talk, seeking support and prioritising self-care, women can break free from limitations and confidently pursue their goals in business and the corporate space.


Through increased self-awareness, support and empowerment, women can break free from the grip of imposter syndrome and begin to thrive in their personal and professional endeavours.


Together, let's empower women to embrace their unique talents and contributions; shatter glass ceilings and thrive as authentic  business and corporate leaders.

 

If you found these tips useful or you have additional tips of your own to share with our readers, we'd love to hear them. If you've overcome Imposter Syndrome, how did you do it? If it's something you still suffer with, what tools do you use to stay in control over it. How has it held you back and how did it make you feel? Let us know in the comments below


Additionally if you are looking for strategic insights for marketing, sales, branding and executive coaching to name a few, the join our monthly Ask The Expert webinars where our acclaimed, award-winning experts are here to help you thrive in business or your career progression.


Finally, don't forget to share these tips with your colleagues and peers who would enjoy these tips. You can also join our dedicated SistaTalk group CareerTalk and connect with others in a safe, supportive environment. Just click the banner below.

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