All of us have self doubt about our job, but when these self doubts run out of control it makes you feel that your code is never good enough and that there is always something that you can change or improve on it. You constantly have the impression that you could do more, better or faster. You sense that your ideas about an architecture or a certain patter aren’t worthy of other attention. Even It is capable of stops you at the moment of applying for jobs because you don’t feel as the right candidate for them.
This problem is known as Impostor syndrome and for your luck you aren’t alone, people suffer it a lot, myself included. In in fact, a research suggests that approximately 70 percent of people experience one episode of it during their lives. Furthermore, It could affect no only your work but also every aspect of your life.
In general terms Impostor syndrome makes you feel that you are a fraud, that you never are as good as you want. When you suffer it you have the sensation that everything that have happened to you have been just a matter of luck and you don’t deserve anything that you have accomplished. For example, I was promoted and I felt that I didn’t deserve it, I tough that I wasn’t up to the circumstances and I tried to find external factor to explain my promotion instead of looking in my skills and my work. It also could evoke a feeling of “I will never going to make it in life “ as well as the perception that you don’t know as much aspeople think that you know. Consequently , at the end of the day, you feel miserable, unworthy or unhappy with your life.
Now, we know how to call it, what it is and how it feels, let’s see what task I use and recommend you to execute to appease this problem. Each of them has helped me along my short career.
The first and most important point is to rise your awareness about this problem and at this point I think that we already did this with the first part of the article.
Second, track your work, be accountable to yourself and measure your progress. Write everything that you do and at the end of the week read that list. This is going to drive you to recognize how much you have done. Typically if you team uses Trello, Jira or any task manager you can utilize it to fulfill this propose. I also recommend you to do a review of your progress each 3 or 6 months to see how much you have learned and grown, this will help you with that sense of no progress or no leaning.
Other thing you can do is put your work in numbers and quantify its impact. It’s easy to think that your work doesn’t matter if you don’t know the consequences of it, if you can see clearly the effect of your work you will be able to understand your value. You can count how many people you are helping, how much time you are saving to your users, how much revenue your work is generating or any other metric that you can imagine.
On top of that, ask to your superior what is expected from you and your position. Ignoring these kind of things could be affecting your performance, because if you don’t know which responsibilities you have, it could be a gap among the thing that you believe that you are capable or have to do and the actually tasks that are expected from you. It also will help you to detect if you are doing more than it’s expected, if it is so, it'll be an augmenting your self value.
Be open and don’t hide this problem. Request and set up periodic feedback sessions with your coworkers to reconcile the difference between your self image and the image that others have of you. This will help you to identify your strengths and weaknesses to work on them afterwards. Employ these moment to appreciate how others feel the impostor syndrome. You are going to be amazed, more people than you think suffer it (even seniors and managers) and they usually are predispose to open up if you project confidence and sincerely ask from a place of empathy.
In addition, show to the world what you have accomplished, write an article, create a video or teach to your coworkers. You will notice how much you know meanwhile you reinforce your knowledge, moreover you will be helping others, thing that is going to boost your satisfaction.
Leaving aside for a moment these particular actions, you should also pay attention at your daily habits, I reckon that we all comprehend how much affect in our life the kind of food that we eat, how much we rest, exercise or socialize. So, keep in balance these things and live a healthy life. You can’t excel if you feel heavy, lazy, grumpy or lonely.
There are also more profound assignments to work on, I like to called it “inner homework”, because they aren’t simple activities to be executed, on the contrary, they are acts that required a lot of introspection. As an example, you might always have present a vision of your future self and aligning some of your weekly activities to it in order to advance toward your life goals. We can't have a peaceful conscience if our lives are in conflict with our core values.
You must also recognize that you aren’t a superhero. Allow yourself to make mistakes. Here i am, writing in English and making loads of mistakes, but it is okay, I'm learning a second language and these errors won't stop me. Be able to forgive myself it is one of the most powerful skill that I have ever acquired. If you did something wrong, just let it be and try to stick to your daily habits as soon as possible. Remember, we all are humans and humans make errors, if you are constant with your work, a simple fault is only an anomaly and it doesn’t compute for the end result.
And last but not least try to meditate, countless studies have showed its benefits and there are tons of app that you can download to practice it.
I sincerely hope that this article allows you to turn off that voice in your head. From this moment, you can be friend of it and as any other friendship you have to work on it, take care of it and do an effort to don’t lose it.
Now is your turn, I want to hear your stories, have you ever encounter this problem in your career? Did you do make peace with it? How? Do you have any other advice to share with us?
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