You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

A 5-Step Approach to Managing Imposter Syndrome Imposter syndrome is holding you back. Here's how to bust through the roadblocks.

By Robin Buckley, PhD

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Imposter syndrome is a debilitating pattern of thinking that inhibits optimal functioning. Not only does it undermine confidence, but it also produces a need to prove yourself by achieving unrealistic standards standards that you, the person with imposter syndrome, create for yourself. In the process, imposter syndrome reduces creativity because the person sees taking risks or trying new approaches as threats to his or her image of being the best. At best, imposter syndrome creates stress and pressure. At worst, it builds to a level of dysfunctional anxiety.

So how can you learn to control imposter syndrome?

Most people believe imposter syndrome is a feeling. It is not. Imposter syndrome is a series of irrational and illogical thoughts. The beauty of this fact is you can learn strategies to control your thoughts and by doing so, you can reduce or eliminate imposter syndrome. Here are five steps to help you think, feel and function at your best.

Related: What Is Imposter Syndrome? (and Why We Should Stop Diagnosing It)

1. Replace illogical thoughts with facts

Our brains will focus on what we tell them to focus on. With imposter syndrome, our brains are functioning from an illogical belief system and will search for any information to support the imposter syndrome. To eliminate the dysfunctional thoughts, we must replace those thoughts with facts, logic and evidence. Resumes, professional evaluations and concrete accomplishments are all sources of reality-based data to replace the thoughts creating the imposter syndrome.

2. Rely on established practices and strengths

For individuals with imposter syndrome, there is often the belief that they need to create new ways to accomplish tasks in order to be successful. They spend their time worrying about how to do things better or in unique ways to distinguish themselves. The reality is that there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Employing skills, behaviors and methods that have been successful in past situations can create success in current and future situations. Why not use validated success strategies rather than creating new ones that have no data to support their efficacy?

3. Talk to a trained professional

In many articles I have read regarding imposter syndrome, a common piece of advice is to talk to someone about your feelings. Often the articles reference talking to your boss, colleague or a friend, and this advice is faulty. These individuals might be valuable when you want to vent, but they are not trained in approaches to help you reduce or eliminate imposter syndrome, nor are they regulated by confidentiality guidelines. Seeking out an executive coach, trained in areas of brain or behavior functioning, will ensure you receive expert support in a safe environment.

Related: 6 Factors to Consider When Vetting and Hiring an Executive Coach

4. Let go of perfectionism

Perfectionism is the energy source for imposter syndrome. The idea of being perfect or doing things perfectly creates some of the irrational and unrealistic standards that contribute to imposter syndrome and, ultimately, undermine goals. Some perfectionistic individuals focus so much energy and time on doing things perfectly that they never finish the goal at hand. Doing things well, using your strengths and accomplishing them within the designated time can be your focus and a way to reduce imposter syndrome.

Related: 4 Ways to Send Your Perfectionism Packing

5. Write down your vision of success

Writing down your goals is a strategy towards goal achievement, but it also clearly establishes your measurement of the goal. It creates the boundary to maintain your focus so it does not stray towards something bigger or better. By writing down your goal, it also becomes a tool to measure your success based on the stated goal, not something more perfect. If you compare your outcome to the written goal, it becomes the litmus test for success and can prohibit your brain from spinning in the direction of imposter syndrome.

For many driven and successful people, imposter syndrome is a common occurrence. Recognizing the signs and knowing you can control it allows you to prevent it from blocking your progress. By applying concrete strategies, and refusing to accept the illogical belief system as a habit or norm, you can maintain a level of optimal performance in your personal and professional lives.

Robin Buckley, PhD

Executive and Couples Coach

A cognitive-behavioral coach with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, Dr. Robin Buckley helps successful women and couples thrive in their careers and relationships.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Business News

This One Word Is a Giveaway That You Used ChatGPT to Write an Email, According to an Expert

"Delve" has increased its presence in written work since ChatGPT entered the scene.

Side Hustle

This Dad Started a Side Hustle to Save for His Daughter's College Fund — Then It Earned $1 Million and Caught Apple's Attention

In 2015, Greg Kerr, now owner of Alchemy Merch, was working as musician when he noticed a lucrative opportunity.

Business News

This Fan-Favorite Masters 2024 Item Is Still $1.50 as Tournament Menu Appears Unscathed by Inflation

The pimento cheese sandwich is a tradition almost as big as the tournament itself.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Business Solutions

Save an Extra 20% on the Ultimate Microsoft Bundle Featuring Windows 11 Pro, Office, and More

Pick up this package of popular Microsoft products for only a fraction of the price through April 16.