Are You Letting Impostor Syndrome Hold You Back From Your Goals?

Are you letting impostor syndrome hold you back from your goals?Want to know how I really felt on the day the Get Gutsy ebook launched?

I felt a little bit like a fraud.

I had a serious case of impostor syndrome. 

If you’re not familiar with what that means, impostor syndrome is defined as a psychological phenomenon where people are unable to recognize their own accomplishments and don’t believe they deserve success for whatever they’ve achieved.

I was definitely proud of the book and how it came together so beautifully thanks to my wonderful contributors and fabulous designer, but thoughts ran through my head like:

-Who am I to launch a book?
-Why would anyone read this?
-Will the community think it’s boring or dumb?
-Should I have included my OWN story in the book?
-Is it even a real book if it’s just a compilation of OTHER people’s stories?
-Is this good enough?
-Am I good enough?

It’s hard to believe I was actually thinking these negative thoughts, even when things were going so well on launch day.

People were spreading the word on Twitter…my email list grew by nearly 100 people in a two week period. Members of the community were emailing me telling me how inspired they were by the book.

And yet, that nagging feeling persisted.

It didn’t feel good. I tried the best I could to quiet the mean voice in my head and soak in the happiness of the day, but it wasn’t easy.

I share this because I want you to know that everyone feels inferior from time to time.

Everyone feels doubt.

It’s OKAY to feel impostor syndrome (let’s face it, we’ve all been there) but the lesson here is that we can’t let it control us or stop us from reaching for our big, scary goals.

Luckily, after sharing these thoughts with the Get Gutsy e-newsletter community, my friend Janelle shared this article with me from 99U. It’s called “Nobody Knows What The Hell They Are Doing.” (Don’t you love that title?!)

The author, Oliver Burkeman, offers some encouraging words about impostor syndrome:

“Research suggests that the so-called “impostor syndrome” may get worse as people get better: the more accomplished you get, the more likely you are to rub shoulders with ever more talented people, leaving you feeling even more inadequate by comparison. In short: if you’re worried you don’t measure up, that could well be a sign that you do. And the truth, deep down, is that we all feel as though we’re just winging it.”

Such important words- after all, we really are just winging it, aren’t we? Even the most accomplished of us all have felt that icky feeling of not being good enough.

Burkeman continues, “The real trick to producing great work isn’t to find ways to eliminate the edgy, nervous feeling that you might be swimming out of your depth. Instead, it’s to remember that everyone else is feeling it, too. We’re all in deep water. Which is fine: it’s by far the most exciting place to be.”

See a connection here? What’s my favorite quote? “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Getting gutsy means embracing those uncomfortable feelings from time to time…and not letting it hold us back from our dreams.

Even though I felt the impostor syndrome like crazy throughout the launch, my method of coping was to just keep moving forward. To remind myself that I worked hard for this and that the book would be a success if it inspired even ONE person, let alone hundreds. To feel proud of my accomplishments and to share my work with pride.

To keep pushing onward…toward the next big goal.

Are you letting impostor syndrome hold you back from your big goal? Share your stories in the comments below.

  • Those are the exact same bits of the article that struck me. Feeling like an impostor is life giving you a backhanded compliment, isn’t it?! Oh humans… we are so complex. That’s why I hope to come back as a kitty in my next life! ha 🙂

    You have an email folder with all of the happy-rainbows-sunshine emails you’ve received, right? If not, start one! It’s a place to go when you’re feeling less-than-stellar about something.

    You rock, chica. High fives, fist bumps, and hugs for you!

    • Jessica Lawlor

      Thanks for sending to me, doll! 🙂 You’re right, it is basically a backhanded compliment. Ha! Humans are weird.

      I DO have a folder like that in my email 🙂 I call it my warm-fuzzies folder (I think I learned about that from Jenny Blake…genius)

  • I laughed and related to your feelings at the time of your book launch. I have written a few and felt the similar, but now I have a name for it: Impostor Syndrome! I discovered your site yesterday when I was doing research in preparation to launch my own blog and have added it to my list of sites to check out regularly each week. Thank you for being an inspiration!

    • Jessica Lawlor

      Hi Tanja! Glad you could relate…and that you’ve discovered the term impostor syndrome. It’s a good way to describe what we experience from time to time, right? I’m so happy you found my blog and have been enjoying it! Glad to have you here 🙂

  • I’m struggling with it a little bit right now…my book will be launching this month as well. I’m excited to get it out there, but oh so nervous. What if no one likes it? Who do I think I am to write a book anyway? For now, I’ve just been trying to express gratitude for creating this opportunity for myself. That’s helped a bunch.

    • Jessica Lawlor

      Ah, I totally hear you! I can’t wait to see more about your book launch! 🙂 I love the idea of expressing gratitude. That’s super smart and a good way to reframe your thinking.

  • Pingback: Start Your Week Right Sunday: Links & Goals - Jessica Lawlor()

  • Pingback: Fashion Rebel With A Cause | Erin Wiggle()

  • Wow tomorrow I will turn 54 and until today I had not heard about Impostor Syndrome, although have certainly experienced it. Every time I get ready to hit the publish button it rears its ugly head. This made me feel better. Thanks Jessica.

    • Jessica Lawlor

      Happy, happy, happy birthday, John! 🙂 I too was kind of excited to hear that there’s an actual term for the way I so often feel! It’s not a good feeling, but it’s nice to know we all experience it from time to time.

  • Great story. Thanks for sharing. Welcome to the club! Ha! Just linked your article up at bottom of mine!

    • Jessica Lawlor

      Of course! Thanks for adding my piece to your post! 🙂 Love this topic and reading other people’s take on it.

  • Pingback: Monthly Check-In: Bye November, Hi December- Jessica Lawlor()

  • Pingback: You Are Not An Imposter - Jessica Lawlor()

  • Ordinary Cycling Girl

    Struggling a little bit with it now to be honest, but I’m feeling inspired after reading this!

    • I’m so glad! I still struggle with this from time to time!

  • Pingback: Impostors Syndrome: My Very Personal Story()