Your 3-Step Guide to Warding Off “Impostor Syndrome”

Photo: Vivian Chen

Welcome to Well+Good’s (Re)New Year—a five-week expert-led program that’s all about helping you have your best year yet. For Week Three, we’ve brought on Meena Harris—lawyer. tech policy adviser, feminist, and founder of I'm an Entrepreneur, Bitch. (Leadership runs in the family—her aunt is Kamala Harris, the just-elected US Senator from California.) Throughout the week, she'll be sharing her tips for feeling empowered, taking action, and getting ahead—at work and in life.

For some women, no matter how confident they are in their personal lives, the moment they step foot inside the office they lose trust in themselves. Afraid to speak up during a big meeting? Terrified of a looming deadline?

It's what's been called "impostor syndrome," where a high achiever is unable to internalize her accomplishments—and instead is overcome with a fear of being exposed as a fraud.

Sadly, it's not uncommon for a woman to feel like this, both in and out of the office. And while this type of fear is widespread in the workplace, it doesn't have to be—I swear.

I've thought a lot about where the root of the problem lies, and it's straightforward: a lack of knowledge leads to less confidence. Yes, there's no way we can know everything.

But there is a simple, three-step solution to owning your intelligence and taking charge in the office.

Ready to banish impostor syndrome for good? Here's what to do:

Step 1: "Know" what you don’t know.
Step 2: Recognize that you’re not a fraud just because you don’t know everything.
Step 3: Be as prepared as you can in the areas where you do have expertise, and develop additional knowledge.

The primary objective of I’m an Entrepreneur, Bitch is not to create an always-right, never-wrong perfectionist ideal among women; instead, it's to foster confidence, intelligence, and creativity among women who are doing things. It’s about owning what you do, taking pride in that, and declaring it unapologetically.

Find your confidence-killer and confront it head-on.

Not asserting yourself? I encourage you to think about whether you’re not asserting yourself because you lack the confidence to give yourself status—which you’ve likely earned for yourself—or because you don’t yet believe you’re entitled to it. If you're the latter—you're not alone.

But it's time to take charge, ladies!

If you suggested an idea at a meeting, only to have it handed off to someone else, show your boss you can (and want to) handle it by proposing a thought-out business plan. If you have an Etsy shop on the side, tell people it’s a business—not just a hobby. If you’re raising kids while running a company full-time from your home, consider calling yourself a straight-up "boss," rather than a "stay-at-home momboss." If you're a female entrepreneur, this also could mean enrolling in a business course. And if the thought of public speaking—anytime, anywhere—sends you into panic mode, embrace the fear and sign up for a seminar or improv class.

In other words, find your confidence-killer and confront it head-on—and don't let it keep you from fulfilling your potential and being your best self. The future is female—time to make some moves.

The (Re)New Year series is not a “New Year, New You” program. (We think you’re pretty great as is!) Instead, we tapped the biggest and best influencers across the wellness space to help kick off the New Year in the best possible way. Between heart-racing workouts, DIY beauty recipes, and killer confidence advice, get ready to have your happiest and healthiest year yet.

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