The one trick I use to kick Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome. Heard of it? If you’re freelance, you’ve almost certainly felt it. It’s the little gremlin in your head which says things like:

Are you serious? Do you really think people will pay you to do that?

Raise your prices? No one will pay you that!

Oh god, look what my super-awesome, glossy, productive-as-hell competition is doing! I’m such a failure.

Someone is going to find out that I’ve been lucky so far, and I’m actually totally rubbish. They’re going to tell everyone how rubbish I really am. 

I firmly believe that Imposter Syndrome is hugely influenced by social media. Every time we jump online, we’re bombarded with reminders that other people are doing so much more (or so we think) and we’re left feeling like we’re lagging behind. We’re left feeling like we can’t compete, and that we’re failures.

The problem lies in the assumptions. When you compare how you’re doing to others in your industry, you’re likely to make some of the following assumptions:

  • They’re a financial success. Launching a course/offer/product doesn’t mean they’re doing well. And trust me, freelancers and online entrepreneurs are amazing at hyping and promoting. But sometimes that involves smoke and mirrors – and a big launch doesn’t guarantee money in the bank.
  • People share everything. Occasionally I come away from a Facebook group where lots of people have promoted the exciting things they’ve achieved, and I feel, well….shit. But they’re only sharing the good stuff. They’re not sharing that shouty email from a tricky client. They’re not talking about diving into their overdraft as they chase unpaid invoices. They’re not talking about working at 10pm on a Sunday and having a crying fit because the laptop has frozen and there’s a workload that needs finishing in order to be able to take a couple of days off. They’re not talking about how their child has suddenly refused to go down for their naps, and you’re panicking as you were relying on them to hit a deadline (yup, that’s me). Social media, generally, only offers the highlights.
  • That they do it alone. Chances are, they’ve got a solid team behind them, and outsource the tricky stuff like Facebook Ads to someone who knows how to get the results. I’m not saying they haven’t worked their asses off – but don’t compare yourself to a whole team of people.
  • That they’re at the same point as you. No one has gone through the exact same journey as you, and you’re doing yourself a disservice if you compare yourself to someone who is months or years ahead of you, or has bundles of other resources that you can’t currently access. Stop comparing your beginning to other’s middles.
  • They’re better than me. Are they? Or are they just louder and prouder?
  • They can charge more than me, as they’re worth it. Why are they worth it, and you’re not? What have they got that you haven’t? If they have got something more, this is an opportunity to build your experience and skills. But there’s a good chance it’s confidence and making a lot of noise about what they offer that gives them the edge.

Whenever you feel like you’re overwhelmed with how much others are doing, grab a pen and paper. Write down all the assumptions you’re making. Then challenge them. Are they really true? And if you really believe they are, how would you prefer to feel about it? Focusing on how you’d prefer to feel will empower you to make the changes you want to see, rather than dwelling on the differences you perceive.

What assumptions do you make about others in your industry?

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3 thoughts on “The one trick I use to kick Imposter Syndrome

  1. That ridiculous coaching tab on the left side of my phone screen that never goes away and is annoying as hell, really ruins the ability to read your site, and thus I have decided to leave. Goodbye I don’t take freelance design advise from folks who can’t design.

    1. Hi Phil. Thanks for the feedback, I really do welcome it and I have now removed that tab so it’s more user-friendly. However, I’m a little surprised by the aggressive tone of your comment. I can assure you I don’t offer ‘advise’ on freelance design (the purpose of The Freelance Lifestyle is to provide a friendly, supportive community for freelancers, so perhaps this isn’t the best place for you).

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