Wikipedia: Impostor syndrome is a psychological pattern in which people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalised fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.
Some call it a lack of confidence, others insecurity, but imposter syndrome is a real thing and all of us, no matter how confident we seem on the outside, have experienced this at some point in our careers.
As a mum returning to work, this magnifies tenfold. Have I lost touch? Am I too old? Do I still have what it takes to pick up where I left off?
But to the last question, the answer is, of course, yes. Having children doesn’t dilute your ability, it dilutes your time … and if anything, time management has been the biggest challenge to overcome. But that’s not all, even when our first projects went well imposter syndrome lingered on, and here at Redluco it took us time to reconnect with our pre-children professional selves and hold the same confidence we had previously taken for granted.
So, how did we overcome imposter syndrome?
We had to accept that things had changed and we couldn’t approach working life in the same way as we previously had. This didn’t mean being less committed, it was just different. By assessing the reality of our new commitments and being brutally honest with our limitations, we were able to move forward and find the balance needed to become successful both in business and at home.
We are neither Psychologists nor Life Coaches but here are our own tried and tested ways to help quieten the imposter within:
- Talk to your close network to get honest feedback. By speaking to other professional women who also had young families we discovered that most of them felt exactly the same and that it was most prevalent in those who worked remotely and alone.
- Acknowledge negative thoughts. Perhaps even make a note of them. Thoughts are often far less powerful when written in black and white.
- For every negative thought, try and think of a positive one, even if unrelated.
- Start a course, join a networking group and go to local events and launches. Are there any shared work spaces/groups in your area? And if not, could you start one?
- Become an expert in your field by keeping up to date with the latest trends.
- Set goals. As you would if you worked for a larger organisation or were part of a bigger team. Have a clear understanding of both your role and your goals in the short term (this week) and the bigger picture.
- Break a big project into smaller bite-size pieces and tackle the most difficult first.
- Discuss your ideas with others. You may surprise yourself by just how good an idea it is.
- Invest in yourself by not only treating yourself occasionally but by looking after your physical being. Go for a walk, run, bike ride or swim. Clearing your head makes space for fresh and new ideas.
- Accept that this is a journey and don’t give up.
- And finally our favourite one of all: team up! Find a partner to work with that motivates and inspires you to finally send that email you have been procrastinating about.
Written by Samantha Wright & Silvia Torner-Bertacco