External career challenges can come from many places and are usually easy to spot, but internal career challenges – the little voices inside you telling you that you can’t do something – are much harder to identify. They often masquerade as facts when they may actually be fiction, and can hold you back from critical career development behaviors that you are fully capable of engaging in. Have you ever felt that you’re not as competent as others believe you to be, or been afraid of being exposed as a fraud? That’s called “imposter syndrome,” and it’s often grounded in the shaky foundation of limiting beliefs which can take many forms. Sometimes these beliefs arise from an outdated sense of self – beliefs that reflect who you used to be but not who you have become. A classic example of this is when an individual contributor moves into a leadership role but continues to think of themselves as a “worker bee,” failing to recognize their newly developed leadership skills. If that new leader can let go of their limiting beliefs and recognize their current reality, the imposter syndrome will fade away as they move forward, feeling much more authentic and empowered. Identify, analyze, and let go of your limiting beliefs. 

If you’re experiencing imposter syndrome, take a moment and identify your underlying beliefs and assumptions. Determine if they are fact or fiction. Ask yourself questions like: When have I actually done this well? What are the things I’m being asked to do, and what have others seen that makes them believe I can do it? Where did my limiting belief come from? Is it outdated? What am I afraid of? Who am I today? How am I qualified to do this job? There will naturally be times when the voice holds a small amount of truth. If that’s the case, then do what it takes to address the issue. But if, upon examination, you realize that you have developed the skills and knowledge to do the job you are in, then it’s time to let go of your limiting beliefs. Instead of saying, “I can’t do this,” say, “I wasn’t able to do this in the past, but I can now,” or “I’ve been assuming that I can’t do this, but I can if…”.  When your internal dialogue tries to tell you that you are not the right person for the job, it’s time to change the conversation. You may be able to do this yourself or you may want to hire a coach or therapist to help you with this process. Make it a priority to develop a greater awareness of your underlying beliefs, and let go of those that are holding you back so you can begin to create the career you want.

More information on this tip can be found in Lead Your Way: Practical Coaching Advice for Creating the Career You Want

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