We all know there are so many perks to being self-employed and being your own boss. We believe the positives far outweigh the negatives. But there’s one thing that pretty much every self-employed person experiences at some point in their career, be they a contractor, interim manager or otherwise; the dreaded Imposter Syndrome…..and the longer you’re in-between contracts, without a support network that really understands what you’re going through, the greater the effects on your wellbeing.

What is Imposter Syndrome?

You might have heard it called Imposter Phenomenon, Imposter Experience or Fraud Syndrome, but they all mean the same thing, whichever way you say it. First brought to light in 1978 by clinical psychologists Suzanne A. Imes and Pauline R. Clance, Imposter Syndrome is a psychological battle with your mind where you begin to doubt your own ability and skills. You start questioning why anybody should want to work with you, which, in turn, develops into an overwhelming fear that those around you and working with you will soon uncover you as a fraud.

You might be the most competent person at the job in hand, but nothing you can tell yourself will make you realise this. Whenever you do achieve something, you’ll put your success down to sheer luck, timing, or the fact that you’ve successfully managed to con someone into believing you’re intelligent enough and competent enough to have done the job properly.

Some people are more prone to experiencing Imposter Syndrome than others, although it’s considered to be a reaction triggered by certain situations, as opposed to a mental health issue. So perhaps that’s why it’s such a common trait of the self-employed?

How might you be suffering as a contractor?

Imposter syndrome can present itself in a whole manner of ways. As a contractor, you may be experiencing one or more of a number of things that could suggest you’re suffering the symptoms of Imposter Syndrome. Here are just a few of them that might seem familiar to you:

  • Before you’ve even started contracting, you won’t apply for a certain role unless you tick every single box of the role requirements.
    • Contractors Anonymous can help you decipher the job descriptions &, because we know you, we can make sure you’re confident you can do the job before you apply.
  • You often question whether you know enough about a certain role, even if you’ve been in it for a while.
    • Contractors Anonymous have the community to check-in with, without exposing your uncertainties to your colleagues.
  • You constantly look for new ways to improve your already-existing skills.
    • Contractors Anonymous can prompt you to learn new skills that will support your career aspirations
  • You begin to fear things such as setting a meeting or organising a team because you don’t feel like you’re in a position to do so,
    • Contractors Anonymous will show you how this can be liberating, as a contractor you usually have a job to do in a defined time period & sometimes ‘scope creep’ can leave you vulnerable
  • Instead of learning and growing from your mistakes, your confidence takes a hit because you didn’t get it right the first time round.
    • Contractors Anonymous can help reset the bar, yes you are engaged to be the specialist but you’re also human and will make mistakes

As Oscar Wilde said….. ‘experience is simply the name we give our mistakes’

How can you beat Imposter Syndrome?

The obvious answer here is that you need to work on building your confidence. You need to believe in your abilities and trust that you’re more than capable of carrying out the job in hand – that’s why people are hiring you, after all!

Mistakes happen; we’re all human. So, you’ve just got to learn to take them in your stride and use them as a way to progress in the future. If you’re holding off starting something or applying for a certain role for fear of failure, there’s no better time than now. Take those first steps and overcome your anxieties. Making the decision to start is often the hardest part.

Most importantly, never be afraid to ask for help, whether that be from your peers, your friends and family, your sponsor or anyone else who as been in a similar situation at some point throughout their career.

If you feel like you’re currently battling Imposter Syndrome, don’t suffer in silence. At Contractors Anonymous, we’re always here to lend an ear or give a friendly bit of advice; that’s what the community’s all about. Or maybe you have your own advice on how to overcome Imposter Syndrome? We’d love to hear what worked for you.