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4 Strategies to Stop Imposter Syndrome in Its Tracks

4 strategies to stop imposter syndrome

Do you ever pay attention to your internal dialogue? If so, then you probably know the little bully that lives inside your mind.

You know... that infuriating, taunting voice in your head telling you you're not good enough, you can't do it, you're not smart enough (droning on and on and on).

You know the feeling: I'm talking about imposter syndrome.

Well, my friend, you're not alone. And I want us to talk about it more so we can work toward squashing the damn thing once and for all.

The more I connect with others who share similar experiences, the more mental fortitude I feel in dealing with this little monster each time it bubbles up. And the easier it becomes for us to ignore this uninvited guest who tears us down from the inside out, the quicker we can get on with living our happiest lives and reaching our biggest goals.

So today we're talking about imposter syndrome, 4 strategies to stop it in its tracks, and I'll share a little-known story about one of the most embarrassing moments of my life.


Not many people know this, but in my first year of college, I was on the University of Texas Rowing Team. The team was led by a coach named Caroline King and she did not mess around when it came to fitness. Upon joining the team, we were told that we'd be doing two-a-days twice a week, the mornings were for cardio and weights, and the evenings were for rowing.

I showed up for my first evening practice and was shocked to hear that, before we rowed, Coach King wanted us to run a mile around the lake for a "warm up". Now, if you're a runner or someone who has ever experienced a runner's high once, then I envy you because, let me just tell you, running is not in my DNA. Furthermore, at the time, I was just at the beginning of my health journey so I wasn't in the best shape and my endurance was nothing to write home about.

I did my best. I ran at the end of that group of girls and worked as hard as I could to keep up. Once I finally made it back to the boat dock where we were then going to get the boats out and row, it certainly looked like everyone had been there a while. I was bright red and dripping with sweat.

Before we could begin, we first had to pull the boats out of the boathouse. The boats were stored kind of on this shelf thing, so about 6-8 of us had to go all at once to lift the boat that was just over our heads out of the shelf, and then we would walk it down this hill and put it in the water.

We had just gotten the boat off the shelf, and we were standing there holding it preparing to walk down the hill when it hit me: I was about to be sick. A hundred thoughts raced through my mind, but I ultimately just had to call it so I raised my hand to ask for someone to take my spot holding the boat, had to admit it in front of all my new teammates who were still strangers at the time that I was about to throw up, and then ran to the bathroom to deal with it.

I still squirm when I think about that day! There's no getting around it: it sucked. And, as I was sitting there alone on the bathroom floor, I had a million reasons to just go home... and I think everyone would have understood. But I also had the creeping thought that told me: you're not cut out for this, you're just not good enough... you should probably just head home and email Coach King that you're resigning from the team.

And I knew at that moment that if I went home that I wouldn't come back. So I sat there and I told myself all the reasons I SHOULD stay. I used as much mental fortitude as I could muster and I figured out a way to pick myself up, and not only finish out that practice but finish out the entire season.

I've been working on honing in on how to stop imposter syndrome in its tracks ever since.

Here are my 4 favorite strategies + a bonus one at the end.


The first is a spin on something you'll most often see in movies, but sometimes you'll also see it in real life.

You know how, in some movies, when something bad happens to someone, they'll shout: "Why me?!"

Well, I don't know about you, but in my own life I've caught myself a couple of times asking this very question... it wasn't quite as dramatic, but it was very similar; more like the thought: "Why does this always happen to me?"

One of the biggest issues with imposter syndrome is that it often backs you into a corner of inaction... it keeps you from doing great things because it tells you you're not competent enough to do those things.

And I realized that my mentality in these situations was also forcing me into a place of inaction... by looking at things that were happening in my life and asking "Why does this always happen to me?" I was putting myself in this victim mentality that things were happening TO me and not FOR me.

I realized that reframing this question could help... so, now, when things don't go my way, I ask: "Why NOT me?" - in other words: there's a reason these things are happening and I choose to believe when things don't go my way that there's a lesson that I could learn, but I wouldn't be able to learn it if these things were NOT happening.

So why NOT me? If these so-called bad things weren't happening, I wouldn't be able to learn the valuable lesson that's hidden within them.

Asking "Why NOT me?" helps put me back in a position of power in those difficult moments and I realized it works well for imposter syndrome, as well.

So whenever you're feeling like a fraud or like you're not as capable as the next person: think about this: every single thing that humans have ever created started as an idea in someone's mind. And research suggests that only 1-2% of people are true geniuses, so don't be like "Oh, well those people were just super smart." No - great things are done by regular people every single day.

So, seriously, why not you? What exactly is stopping you from doing great things? You're just as capable as the next person and you have ideas that are completely unique to you.

Look around right now... look around at all the things around you. Outside of nature, every single thing you see around you began as someone’s idea... that chair over there? Someone's idea. The desk you're at? Someone's idea. Is the HVAC system running through your building? Someone's idea.

If you have a big idea or want to do something that you're scared people will laugh at or dismiss or consider to be crazy, then think about this on a bigger scale... think about the greatest inventions in history.

What do you think it was like in the 1700s when some guy told his town he was going to lay some iron and wood for miles and miles across the country and put a gigantic moving steel box on it to carry things and people great distances, farther and faster than ever before?

I bet people thought that guy was crazy, but that's how the first steam train was born, and that changed the world forever.

Think of how the inventors of the most impactful creations in the world felt when they first thought up their never-been-done-before idea... they probably felt ridiculous. They probably thought, no, there's no way I could do that.

But they did. They pushed past all that negative, unhelpful internal chatter. Maybe they asked themselves, "Well, why not? And why not me?"

You have great ideas hidden deep within you like jewels waiting to be discovered inside the earth. Or maybe they're not even that deep... maybe they're at the surface like seashells being rocked back and forth by the reaching fingers of ocean waves.

Wherever they lie, I encourage you to pay attention because they're YOURS. And no one else can have the exact same idea in the exact same way that you can.

What you have to contribute is not only worthy but it's priceless to the rest of us. So don't keep it to yourself, share your gifts with the world.

You can truly make a difference. So speak up in meetings. Share your ideas. Talk to your boss about that project you want to lead. Every single person is unique and has ideas that only they can contribute… and that 100% includes you.


Strategy #2 is to remember that everyone is just a person.

This strategy is different than what we talked about before... yes, it's true that 98% of the population are regular non-genius people, but let's take this one step further because I know it can be easy to compare yourself to those people at work or online that hold leadership roles and look so put-together and "successful".

Think about it: once you take away the fancy clothes, and the big audience they lead at work meetings, and the nice office or home office or house, they're just a person who looks a lot like you.

I used to feel intimidated by my higher-ups at work... I worked in tech marketing so in the corporate world these people were my skip-level managers or directors or VPs or the C-suite. Basically, anyone in any kind of leadership role beyond my manager (since I knew him or her personally) felt in some way like a super-human.

They were always so polished and put together and blunt. They seemed extra intelligent and untouchable. And whenever I was in meetings with them, I felt in some way like I owed them something simply because they held a higher title than me.

But then I started thinking about their lives outside of work... and it helped me immensely. I'd imagine them going home at night or turning off the computer and walking into the living room to be with their families. I'd imagine them in a t-shirt and jeans instead of in the nice clothes they'd wear at work. I'd envision them walking the dog or at their kid's baseball game or dance recital. I'd even think about them standing in line at the grocery store and sitting in traffic...the same way that we all do.

By intentionally working to humanize these people, I was able to remove them from the pedestal I'd subconsciously put them on because of something so insignificant as work titles. And this made them much more approachable, so I found myself speaking up more often in meetings with them, sharing my ideas with them more openly, and even writing to them directly on instant messenger.

By humanizing the people I'd subconsciously told myself were in some way better than me, I was able to make great strides when it came to imposter syndrome. It helped me remember the reality that simply because they held higher titles than me doesn't mean they're better; it just means they might have more experience, connection, skills, or they were at the right place at the right time.

But it does not mean that what I - or you - have to contribute isn't important or valuable.


I love all 4 strategies, but if I had to pick a favorite, it would be Strategy #3 because this one is so powerful beyond overcoming imposter syndrome, and it's something that's served me well in all aspects of my life.

Just a little background: I talk often about my time in counseling and my openness about mental health. But I'm not sure I've shared my #1 takeaway from my time in therapy. Those close to me have heard it often, but I want to share it with you because it's relevant here.

And it's that you can only control yourself.

You can't control your partner. You can't control your family. You can't control your friends. You can't control the stock market. You can't control politics.

But what you CAN do is control yourself. You can control what you do, how you respond, how you talk to yourself, and how you think.

So Strategy #3 is remembering that you can only control yourself.

From an imposter-syndrome-at-work perspective, this bubbled up for me recently after reading a book about goal-setting and productivity called The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington. The authors hone in on the importance of execution as the single most critical thing we can focus on every day that's within our control.

I started thinking about this and took it one step further to frame this concept in my mind to help me battle imposter syndrome... which is that: I'm responsible for the actions, not for the results.

Take this with a grain of salt because I'm not saying this is true for every single situation in life... like I'm not saying I could go kick my husband in the shin and then be like, "Oh, well I'm responsible for the kick, but it's not my fault that you're hurt."

What I'm saying is, from a work perspective, I truly believe that I'm solely responsible for taking actions that I THINK will produce the results that I want. But I cannot control those results.

Let me illustrate this with an example that might help: so, as you know, I was in tech marketing for 10 years. I held a variety of roles, all of which were focused in some way on marketing. When you work in marketing, your ultimate goal is to get your target customers to buy whatever you're selling. But, because tech is complicated, there's a lot that happens between the point someone sees an advertisement, and the point they're willing to purchase.

So, leaning heavily on the belief that I can only control myself, I know I'm responsible for getting a certain amount of ads placed every quarter. That is something that's absolutely within my control, as long as I'm executing. But what is not within my control is whether or not a customer sees my ad, whether they click on my ad, or whether they buy something because of my ad.

Sure, these are all data points I can look at later to and see what's working, what's not, and adjust my strategy based on that, but I cannot actually control what the customer does. All I can control is what I can execute on, which is creating and placing the ads.

This mindset, helped me reframe my work goals... so, of course, companies are going to have you set goals like click rate and conversion rate, but I made it a point to make sure that at least some and ideally most of the goals I was setting with my manager were more execution-oriented like to create and schedule 10 Facebook ads per quarter, or to send out 1 customer email per week, or to get 3 new web pages built.

Let's be honest, companies are always going to be looking at customer behavior as something they can influence, so you'll always see these things listed as goals, but if you ONLY have these types of goals - in other words, goals that aren't within your control - they're harder to reach because you cannot control them. And if you've got a bunch of goals that you don't hit, of course, that'll start wearing on your self-esteem, and you can bet that your imposter syndrome will use that as an opportunity to tell you you're not good enough.

But if you can work with your manager to make sure you're incorporating some execution-based goals that are well within your control, you're going to be much more likely to hit those goals, feel good about yourself, and take bigger risks because you know you're responsible for putting things out there, but you're not responsible for how they're received. All you can do is take that data, learn from it, and adjust your actions.


There are many articles written by hospice workers who spend a lot of time with people who are in their final days. Those people, in their last moments, will often share the things they wished they'd done differently in their lives. And more common than not, it's the things people DIDN'T do that they regret much more than the things they did.

I believe that the worst thing of all about imposter syndrome is that it puts you into a place of inaction. If you listen to it and you believe you can't do it, then you won't try.

But in those difficult moments, think about all the people who have left this world and have gone on to the next, and remember all the things they'd wished they'd done but didn't.

Let their lessons teach you, and decide that you won't be someone who is on their deathbed with regrets of things they didn't do.


In addition to these 4 mental fortitude strategies, something even more practical that helped me overcome imposter syndrome at work was personal finance mastery... specifically, saving up 3-6 months worth of living expenses.

Here's how this helped me: knowing that I could survive 3-6 months without a paycheck, I stopped worrying about layoffs or being let go for not performing well. And it also helped me step into my power and start speaking up about my ideas... I no longer hesitated and thought, "If they don't like my idea or if my idea doesn't work out then I might be added to the next round of layoffs."

It gave me the security and the confidence I needed to start contributing more in a way that felt empowering, instead of what I was doing before which was to stay in the lines as much as possible to not ruffle any feathers and wind up on the proverbial chopping block.

Knowing I could be financially free from an employer for 3-6 months was empowering and, when you feel powerful, there's no imposter syndrome in sight.

I truly hope these 4 strategies help propel you in the right direction - toward a life of personal accomplishment and freedom.

And if you feel like the bonus financial strategy might be something that could help you, be sure to check out the FREE Monthly Budget Calculator which can help you figure out how much you can save each month based on your expenses, and the FREE Money Saving Cheat Sheet which gives you 30 easy-to-implement and practical ideas on how to start incorporating more savings into your life.


My rowing coach, Caroline King, used to have a saying and it taught me a valuable lesson. She'd say, "Your body can always keep going, it's your mind you have to convince."

Years later, after literally throwing up after running 1 mile, that mantra carried me through a half marathon... and the second part of it carries me through imposter syndrome even to this day:

It is your mind that you have to convince.

You are good enough. You are worthy. You have one-of-a-kind gifts to give to the world.

Ask yourself: Why NOT me? What's the worst that could happen if you tried? Is it fear of rejection?

If someone doesn't like what you have to give, you're not responsible for that. If someone says hurtful things to you about something you put into the world with good intention, remember that their attacks have more to do with them than it does with you... if someone's going to hate on what you're doing, it usually means that they have a demon they're working through in themselves.

But on the flip side, what's the worst that could happen if you didn't try? You might have regrets that will haunt you until the very end.

Overcoming imposter syndrome can help you hit your biggest goals, financial or otherwise... it's a key obstacle you have to overcome, a difficult door you have to walk through, to get to where you're meant to go.




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