3 Common Impostor Feelings We All Get and How to Overcome Them

It’s a feeling so many high-achieving women know too well. Picture this; You’re sitting in a meeting about to say something utterly brilliant and that annoying little voice in your head stops you in your tracks. It whispers, “Don’t say it, your words aren’t going to convince anybody.”

Meet impostor syndrome. A habitual fear of being exposed as a fraud. It tells you that you don’t deserve to be recognised for your successes and at any moment, somebody will rumble your fakery and pull you up on it.

Well I’m happy to tell you that you’re not alone. Some of the world’s most successful women, including Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg battle with impostor feelings.

Here are some of the most common ‘impostor feelings’ we get and my tips for  overcoming them once and for all.

1. “I sailed through this project on luck but next time it won’t be so easy, and then everyone will discover I’m a fraud.”

You didn’t get this far on pure luck alone. “The only time you should prepare to fail is when you fail to prepare”, my friend and fellow WICT board member Judy Goldberg once said to me.

If you slogged your guts out on that presentation, the chances are, you didn’t wing it. Telling yourself you did is only setting you up for more apprehension next time.

2. “I’m not going to speak up in this meeting or presentation because my opinions aren’t important enough.”

This is hugely common amongst young people in the workplace, and especially for women.

You were invited to take part in that meeting or brainstorming session for a reason. Even the smallest idea or a few words can sway a bad decision, spark new ideas or direct the course of a conversation in an impactful way.

Maybe someone in the room is thinking the exact same thing as you but is also too anxious to speak up. Don’t let your ideas slip away so easily.

If you really don’t feel like sharing anything, pipe up at the end of a meeting and summarise the key action points or ask how you can help in terms of next steps. This is a great way of reminding everyone of what needs to be done next and also demonstrates that you were engaged throughout.

Bottom line: Say what’s on your mind. What’s the worst that could happen?

3. “Everybody thinks I have strong, creative solutions but one day, I’ll run out of ideas.”

Ever have those days where you simply can’t get the creativity to flow? Getting bogged down by not being able to think creatively can lead to a perpetual cycle of frustration and self doubt. Take a break, go for a walk, catch up with a colleague and maybe reflect on a problem with them.

The neon green sign flashing the answer could light up at any moment. Getting out of your own head is often critical to developing new ideas.

Most importantly, remember that you’re not a machine. Don’t be so harsh on yourself.

I spotted this Instagram post this morning and I think it illustrates some awesome and very simple ways to take a break and clear your mind.


My Anti-Impostor Feeling Mantra

I find it helps to say this out loud on the days I’m not feeling too sure of myself.

“You’re an expert in your field. Sit up and share your thoughts and ideas with conviction and confidence. Nobody knows this better than you.”

What’s your best advice for someone who experiences impostor feelings more often than they should?

Sanjana Modha-Patel


20 Key Career Lessons for Every Stage in Life

Childhood Lessons

1. Learning is everything.

2. Women can achieve anything they want (I was inspired by Thatcher’s achievement to be the first Prime Minister – I hasten to add I’m not political!).

3. Remember your childhood dreams.


Early Career Lessons

1. Don’t ever give up.

2. Be brave, push yourself out of your comfort zone.

3. Ask for help from people you trust.

4. Feedback is a gift; listen to it, thank the person giving it and act on it.

5. Understand how business works and the numbers. Commercial nous is important. Read more

5 Ways To Kick Start Your Development Plan Without Asking Your Manager


1. When ‘No’ might be better as ‘Yes’

If someone offers you an opportunity, don’t dismiss it out of hand. I had a coffee the other day with a colleague I used to work with but a long time ago. He’s looking for a new role in the same industry as me and when I asked how I could help, connect him with any of my contacts, he replied with a flat ‘no, I don’t think so, no thanks.’

But he could have asked me out of all my contacts who did I think would be good to connect with? Just one or two people and he’d have saved himself some time, drunk some good coffee or even just met a new and interesting person. He might even have landed a new job.

2. Treat every day at work like it’s your first day in the job

On day one of the job you’re probably a little scared, you’re keen to impress, you’re excited and you’re ready to learn. You ask lots of questions because you don’t know the answers and you need to learn fast. And you even question a bit more deeply to understand why something is done in a certain way, and you may share other ways you’ve done it or could do it. Your ‘day one stance’ is very contagious and the added energy of the newbie, can lift you through the dull tasks later on and gets you thinking about other areas where you can make a difference and learn.

Read more


5 Ways to Stop Self-Interrupting

Don’t let yourself be your biggest distraction. Here are some simple ways to stop self-interrupting.

1. Focus on one thing at a time

Easier said than done, right? One way to keep focused is to stop looking at your to do list every five minutes. Of course, many tasks are of equal importance but you’re not a machine. Tackle anything urgent first, then when starting your next task, move your to do list away. Any meaningful task requires a large part of focus. Before starting anything, ask yourself why you should do it and try to be creative and passionate in your approach – really make it your own. Most importantly, take pleasure and pride in what you’re doing. If you’re constantly thinking about the ten other things on your list, the task at hand won’t be your best work and will take you much longer to complete in the long run.

Read more