Overcoming Self-Doubt in the Workplace

We have all experienced a time in our lives where we have felt insecure or second-guessed the choices we have made.

Imposter Syndrome – the collective term for these feelings of self-doubt – affects up to 82% of people, regardless of whether they are just starting out in a new job or have had 20+ years in the same sector.

Two years ago, I wrote about overcoming the effects of imposter syndrome.  I was fairly new to my role at the time and working towards completing my apprenticeship. Even with my confidence improving in leaps and bounds since then, there are still days where feelings of inadequacy tend to persist.

Frequently experiencing self-doubt and insecurity has a damaging impact on our careers as well as affecting our mental health and wellbeing. People can become reluctant to accept or take credit for their own achievements, putting it down to luck or the support of other people. It can also hold us back from wanting to take the next step in our careers as the anticipation of rejection and humiliation outweighs the benefits of success. It is an irrational fear, but it can cause us to miss out simply because we do not feel good enough.

The same feelings can also be felt when undertaking smaller tasks. Around this time of year, many of us are working towards completing the required hours of CPD. It can often be disappointing when we achieve a lower score on a subject that we feel we should know all about, especially when others have scored significantly higher. But that is OK! While we’re too busy focusing on the bad, we tend to forget that that is the point of CPD: acknowledging where we have gone wrong or where we need to develop our skills more and learning from it.

Take a minute to think how you got to be where you are now. Think about all the achievements that you have led you to this point in time. You did not reach this point by luck alone, no matter what that little voice in the back of your head is saying. You may have made mistakes on the way, but that hasn’t stopped you from achieving all that you have so far.

Now, think about where you want to go from here. Do you want to apply for that new promotion? Or is there a training course you would like to sign up for? Ignore that voice telling you that you need to expect failure - that is a self-fulfilling prophesy in itself. Take control by focusing on what you need to do to get where you want to be.      

Focusing on Personal Development

The professional aspect of learning and development should be inherent in what is sought from this process, but it is also a personal one. Take getting a low score on a test, for example. Admitting that there are gaps in your knowledge, as well as talking about it with others, can help you recognise your own value and allows others to share their own experiences of how they deal with setbacks.  

From this point, it is important to work out a CPD plan that is central to your own learning journey, as opposed to a designated path purely led by the organisation. A learning plan that is tailored to the individual switches the perspective from seeing a CPD as a dull ‘tick box’ exercise, to a worthwhile, positive experience that you, the learner, will benefit from.

The last stage is to reflect on what has been achieved through this new plan. It is important not to be hard on yourself if it took you a few tries to get it right. You cannot always control your situation, but you can control how you react to it. Turning a low score into a positive learning experience is an exercise in self-reflection. Committing yourself to wanting to improve through personal development will show that it is not just what you learn but will also demonstrate what you can bring to the table as a dedicated worker.  

About the author

Jessica joined RWA in 2018, having graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Film Studies. Her role as a content designer involves developing new and engaging e-learning modules as well as assisting in the creation of articles for Insight. 

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