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Hey, Colleague: How do you tackle imposter syndrome?

The truth is that you can't fake competency, but you can "fake" your confidence to drive you to reach the desired level of competency.
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A woman looks exhausted as she stares at her computer screen at work.

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Hey Colleague, 

A friend forwarded me a dream job posting, but I'm worried that I might be underqualified for it. Is it worth even applying? What would you do?

—Anonymous


I'm not going to give you the typical career advice, but I'm going to help you get deeper to shift your thought process.

The expression "fake it until you make it" is a cliche that is not always understood. The truth is that you can't fake competency, but you can "fake" your confidence to drive you to reach the desired level of competency.

It's no secret that if you want to achieve your dreams, you must first believe in yourself. To believe in yourself, you need to understand the concepts of faith, trust and confidence. It's important not to skip any steps to change your personal beliefs because it is a process.

Faith

Because faith is an intangible concept, many people have trouble grasping it. But having faith means choosing to believe in yourself even though you don't have evidence to support it. You can choose to think that you are qualified for that position you've always dreamt about.

Trust

Trust means to trust yourself that you will be able to reach your dream. Don't have a skill you need for your dream job? Trust yourself to learn a new one. Trust yourself to deal with all your fears about the unknown.

Confidence

Having confidence means you know you will have your own back no matter what. You are confident that you will be able to handle anything life throws at you, whether it is an abrupt life change or the ability to learn that new skill. You are confident you will be able to weather all the ups and downs and overcome challenges in that new job. Why? Because of the faith and trust you've now developed.

Let's put it all together:

Have you ever heard the phrase "everything begins with your thoughts"? Every single idea and innovation began in somebody's mind as a thought. 

For you evidence-based readers, there is a chemical process in your brain that has to do with dopamine. We won't go deep into neuroscience, but dopamine is more than the 'feel-good' neurotransmitter you may have thought it was. Dopamine is more closely related to motivation and drive. Your brain learns what activities you like that lead to pleasurable feelings and releases dopamine to inspire you into action to obtain that reward. If you repeat that action, it will release another hit of dopamine. Yes, this is the same neural pathway that causes sugar or drug addiction, but understanding it can help you hack your brain to enhance your life (and undo old habits).

Begin with action to build momentum

To truly believe in yourself, you must align your thoughts and mental focus and follow up with action. 

1. Break down the steps you need to obtain your dream job into smaller to-do steps. Many people don't even start because the end goal is overwhelming, but smaller milestones or actionable tasks are much more achievable. 

2. Ask yourself what are the requirements of your dream job. If skills are missing, research how long it will take you to get up to speed so you can clearly define the goals needed to reach your objective. Do you already have the basic skills required? Are the other skills something you can learn along the way? Do you have mentors you can reach out to?

3. Prioritize those steps, and every time you check off your to-do list, you will get a hit of satisfaction— or dopamine which will motivate you to take the next step. Keep repeating this, and your momentum and drive will only get stronger as you progress closer to your goal.

Only after you see results will you begin to see evidence that this dream job is within reach. Your dream job is now a tangible object within grasp. 

Believing in yourself is a practice you must do daily because it doesn't always magically happen. Think of it like a muscle that grows over time as you put in more work to make the belief bigger and stronger. Some days your confidence will be drained but reminding yourself that you have faith and trust in yourself will bounce back from anything and push you forward.

Also, don't forget that your friend forwarded you the job posting, so they must have believed in you. Now it's time to start believing in yourself!

And hey, even if you didn't get that job, don't worry! There are many factors, including timing, or it wasn't meant to be, and the universe has bigger and better things for you. It's all a mindset shift — you can look at it as failure or personal growth. The most important thing is that you took a chance to step outside of your comfort zone, and you have levelled up your consciousness, proving to your brain that you believe in yourself. Next time, it will just be easier.

See? There is nothing to lose.


Kate Pn writes about mastering a healthy work-life balance by focusing on productivity hacking. Write to her at kpn@glaciermedia.ca.