I have a terrible confession to make.
You see, I’m a fake charlatan who’s pretending to write copy and content.
It’s just that my clients have never really seen a good copywriter, so they think my work is worth paying for. Someday I’ll be exposed, though.
I don’t even have a university degree that says “Master Of Epic Copywriting”. I have to edit my work to eliminate all the ridiculous brain farts that got into the first draft. Even worse, I make TYPOS and have to proofread my writing.
And sometimes, I have zero inspiration and just sit there and play video games when I should be writing.
Why am I even writing this post if literally anyone who can type on a keyboard can write better content if they really tried?
Now replace the word “copywriter” with “parent”, “engineer”, “entrepreneur”, “runner”, “homekeeper” or any other word that describes you. Can you relate? Congratulations, you’ve probably got impostor syndrome.
Impostor syndrome is not a mental illness, but it can still be a massive roadblock on your way to success. It can prevent you from pursuing your dream career (WHO is going to pay a failure like me? I’d rather stick to my current boring job). If you’re a freelancer, it can force you to charge much less money for your work than you actually deserve. If you’re an aspiring writer or artist, it can completely paralyze your creative potential (Even if I publish my story somewhere, everyone know at once that I’m a fraud, so why even bother writing it?)
So… what do you do now?
You’ve probably discovered that advice like “just be more confident or something” doesn’t work.
This is why I’m sharing 4 super-practical and actionable steps to take. In most cases, the first three should be enough.
1. Find convincing proof that no one is perfect and that you can't please everyone
Go to your favorite online store, find your favorite products and check the user reviews. No matter how awesome the product is, there’s ALWAYS someone who wasn’t happy with it.
Find reviews of your favorite restaurant and you may find that someone went there and hated the exact dish that you love most.
No matter how awesome you are, there will be people who won’t see value in your value proposition, people who won’t like what you do, and people who will prefer your competitors for whatever reason.
Here’s another tip: analyze your competitors if you haven’t done it already. You’ll surely find imperfections and room for improvement. I’m not saying you should gloat over every random typo on a competitor’s website, but it helps to realize that you’re not competing against some kind of infallible gods.
2. Let quantity turn into quality
Once upon a time, a professor at the University of Florida divided the students in his photography class into two groups. One group had to submit dozens of photos to get a decent grade – and the quality of those photos didn’t matter. The other group had to submit just one photo – and it had to be perfect.
The first group actually made better photos.
Because when you’re making literally hundreds of photos without pressuring yourself to create a masterpiece, you’re free to experiment. You see your mistakes as a learning opportunity, not as a life-changing tragedy.
When you spend the entire semester reading photography textbooks and trying to make One Perfect Photo, it will turn out mediocre at best.
So whatever you’re doing, do it. A lot. Try deliberately making bad photos, drawing ugly pictures, or writing a terrible blog post. When you simply focus on doing more, your impostor syndrome will fade into the background of your mind and stay there most of the time.
3. Try these three things
There are simple but effective hacks that will help you overcome impostor syndrome. Do these things every day and you’ll feel more confident in a week or so.
First, try journaling. You can use a blank notebook, a fancy bullet journal, a Google Doc, or whatever strikes your fancy. Writing down your thoughts helps you gain a new perspective on them and identify recurring thought patterns.
Second, build a list of positive affirmations. Once you’ve identified your recurring negative thoughts, try reframing them in positive terms. “I have no idea what I’m doing” becomes “I’m eager to try out new challenges and learn new things in the process”. “Everyone else is better than me” becomes “If other people can achieve their goals, so can I”. Affirmations are not attempts to sugarcoat reality – you’re just looking at yourself through a different lens. Whenever you feel negativity build up in your mind, grab your list and read your affirmations (out loud if you can).
Third, make a mind map where you list your strengths and skills – both professional and personal. Whenever you start feeling like an impostor, say “STOP!”. Spend a minute looking at your mind map and remembering your accomplishments. You might need to do this several times a day when first starting out, but as your confidence grows, you’ll only check your mind map once a day or once a week.
4. Talk to a mental health professional
If you feel that self-help options don’t work, consider talking to a mental health professional.
Impostor syndrome is more common than you probably think, and several types of therapy have been proven effective in treating it. Your therapist will give you exercises that are specifically tailored to your unique situation so you’ll start feeling better after just a few sessions.
Got more tips to share? Let’s talk in the comments section.