We all feel like impostors sometimes. Self-doubt creeps in, and we convince ourselves we actually can’t crush that presentation or apply for that new dream job. But if there’s good news about this feeling, it’s that we all experience it from time to time—even the most successful among us. So we’ve asked seven people from various career fields to share their top tips for overcoming self-doubt and getting the job done. Put ‘em into practice, and we promise you’ll feel more confident in no time.
1. Imagine yourself where you want to be.
“Because I’m making my living helping others sell themselves as subject matter experts and industry leaders, confidence is the name of the game. Any self-doubt would kill my brand! On days that I don’t feel my most accomplished, I imagine myself already having achieved the level of success I want to achieve. This is a little mind trick that leaves no room for self-doubt. It’s not crazy—it’s creative, and shifts the brain to focus on the positive.” —Michelle Dempsey, owner of Michelle Dempsey Very-Well-Written and co-founder of ProFemme
2. Know that you’re not alone in feeling like an impostor.
“Research shows that well-educated and intelligent people frequently experience imposter syndrome and self-doubt. Simply knowing that was a massive relief. I had no idea until I did research for myself on impostor syndrome. I wish I’d known this years ago—but now, if I feel it creeping in, I remind myself that I’m experiencing something common to highly capable people. It’s in my mind and I can change my mind.” —Leigh Espy, project management coach at Project Bliss
3. Get a pep talk from a mentor.
“When self-doubt creeps in, I remind myself of all the credible things I have done in my career path. It’s important to embark on a self-reflection to really gain your confidence in yourself and see all your potential. Sometimes reassurance is all we need. If you have a mentor or someone above you who adores your work and roots for you, then I recommend going to them for a little pep-talk if you can’t pep-talk yourself.” —Gary Palgon, vice president of healthcare and life sciences solutions for Liaison Technologies
4. Think about the end result.
“I focus on the end-result. When I work on a project, I sometimes feel intimidated and uncertain that I can complete it successfully. So I work backward through the steps until I come to ‘now.’ That way, I prove to myself that I can find a successful solution—it’s just that the ‘now’ can be too overwhelming sometimes. Seeing the successful ending in my mind helps me dampen the self-doubts.” —Evelyn Marinoff, project manager
5. Blast motivational music.
“I have several motivational songs to get myself pumped up. Currently, it’s ‘24 Karat Magic’ by Bruno Mars, but there are a few others I listen to depending on whether I’m racing a triathlon or writing or getting ready for a speech.” —Elizabeth McCourt, president of McCourt Leadership Group
6. Ask yourself: What’s the worst that could happen?
“I focus on what is the worst that can happen. It is usually either a ‘no’ from an investor or disinterest in the concept. I’ve already heard both a million times—so what do I have to lose? I also ask myself, what does failure look like? Failure to me is never failing—never pushing myself to work for something slightly out of reach. The visionaries of the world had to constantly accept failure as they paved the way to something no one had seen before, and I try to put my mindset as, ‘if you never try you never know.’” —Jenny Dorsey, chef and entrepreneur
7. Build on your existing expertise.
“I’ve trained myself to refocus and find a new way to build on my expertise. I’ll go out and find the latest new tips, tools, and best practices to share with my clients. Expertise and confidence go hand in hand, so when I begin to feel self-doubt setting it, I stop and refocus my efforts on growing my expertise. This habit helps in moving myself forward, and also has the added benefit of value-add for future clients.” —Jeanne Patti, career coach