Imposter Syndrome or Underqualified? How to Know & How to Manage

Have you ever struggled with imposter syndrome?

If you’re an entrepreneur, then my guess is a probably yes.

Webster’s definition of imposter syndrome is: “A false and sometimes crippling belief that one's successes are the product of luck or fraud rather than skill.” So basically feeling like a phony.

Imposter syndrome shows up differently for every person. It might even be different depending on your specific circumstances. Here are some signs that imposter syndrome might be manifesting in your life.

  • “I’m not good enough…yet.”

  • You think that only when you make a certain income level in your business or have a certain number of clients will you be able to claim that title.

  • “This needs to be perfect.”

  • Feeling like you need to be perfect. You worry you might be found out for your fraudulent self if you don’t get this done perfectly.

  • “It wasn’t me, it was luck.”

  • You find yourself crediting the sun and moon before your hard work for your accomplishments.

Can you relate to any of these?

Before unpacking your experience with imposter syndrome, you’ve got to look at the concrete facts of the situation. Namely the difference between imposter syndrome and being underqualified. In the online world, there are so many people who just wake up one day and want to teach x,y,z with zero experience in that field. Now, don’t get me wrong, you can be whoever and do whatever you want, but you can only teach at the level you’ve actually been.

For example, say Karen wakes up and feels called to coach people on how to grow a six-figure business using Facebook ads. She loves Facebook ads and finds them fun and exciting. This is fabulous, but she hasn’t built a six-figure business herself, and she’s never helped anyone build a six-figure business with Facebook ads. So she finds herself questioning if she’s even qualified.

That’s being underqualified, not imposter syndrome.

Since she has no experience building a six-figure business or using Facebook ads to do that, she can instead start teaching people how to set up Facebook ads or how to create ads that convert until she moves into that next level.

Imposter syndrome in this situation would be that Karen has used ads or helped a client build a six-figure business with ads but she feels like she doesn’t have enough experience to teach it. She does have experience in what she’s teaching, but she needs to own it and give her gifts to the world.

Now that we've gotten clear on what imposter syndrome is, here are six tips to manage it.

6 Tips to Manage Imposter Syndrome

1. Confidence

Confidence is like a muscle, and like any muscle, to keep it toned and strong, you need to exercise it regularly. Exercise for confidence is taking action. It is uncomfortable, but when you do uncomfortable things, they soon become comfortable.

It takes work and courage to keep doing the things that scare you but if nothing changes, nothing changes.

2. Reflection Board

You’ve most likely heard of vision boards, and while I think vision boards can be a great tool, I’ve also seen them create a feeling of “lack” in my clients. Instead, I have my client start a reflection board. On a reflection board, you list out everything you’ve already achieved in your business. If you’re a newbie then list out life accomplishments. For example, you could put that you had a $5,000-month or closed two clients in a row. If you’re a new business owner and haven’t generated income, look at your personal life. Do you have kids? That is something you did! Some people can’t have kids so that’s a blessing. Maybe you paid off a credit card or completed a 5K. What makes you proud? THAT goes on your reflection board.

This simple exercise can show you how things that once seemed impossible are now things you take for granted. This will evolve and grow of course, but a lot of those achievements were hard and it’s a simple reminder that you did that!

3. Reframe Your Thinking

You often feel like an imposter when you are trying something new – for example, a new job role or a new hobby or leisure activity. Accept that when you are learning something new, these feelings are natural and part of growth.

When fear starts to kick in, replace it with an affirmation. For a while, my reframing affirmation was simply, “If nothing changes, everything stays the same.” That little sentence helped me triple my business. I didn’t let things get in my way.

Reframe your thinking and embrace it as a good thing. It means you are learning and growing!

4. Remember You are Not Alone

Remember you are not alone in how you are feeling, and the image you see is not necessarily the same as how someone is feeling.

Statistically, 70% of us will struggle with feelings of self-doubt at some point in our lives. Let that sink in for a second. That means seven out of ten people you know either have had, currently have, or will in the future, have some level of self-doubt.

You see people on social media who are confident, thriving, and successful every single day, but the majority of them are likely feeling different on the inside. These feelings may hold you back, but realizing others feel the same and still take action and live life on their terms can help give you the strength to do the same.

5. Cleanse What You Consume

This leads us to what you are consuming. If you’re an online business owner, remember that you need to be following people, not personalities. For example, I followed the Kardashians for a long time, and then one day I was like “but, why?”. I wanted to connect with real people and let’s be real, Kim isn’t about to respond to any DM I send her so I purged the number of personalities I was following.

Then I started focusing on what I wanted to see and how I wanted to feel. Have a negative nancy who is just always posting drama? Or maybe you know someone in person who you don’t think is the best person but online they portray someone different and it drives you nuts?

Release that energy, sister!!!

You don’t have to unfollow if you don’t want to, but you can at least mute them on social media. You should only be consuming positive and people-driven content.

6. Determine Who You Want to Be

Everyone has a version of themselves they are striving to be, but not everyone knows exactly what they need to do to be that person. They just keep living life day to day thinking it will simply happen.

Sit down and let your imagination run wild and write down the life you would love to be leading.

Here are some questions that can get you started:

  • What is your life purpose?

  • What do you love doing?

  • Who did your 10-year-old self want to grow up into?

  • What about your 70-year-old self, what will you regret?

Once you’ve done these six things you’ll be feeling extra confident, and anytime you feel imposter syndrome rising up, do these all again! I personally recommend doing a self-love quarterly audit and these things are on that list!