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Tip 10: How to overcome imposter syndrome

We learn by making mistakes. So when things don't work out, don't let it fuel your imposter syndrome. It's easy to give in and move on. Don't do that.

Graeme Tidd
Graeme Tidd
3 min read

Table of Contents

Whether you're new to business or a seasoned pro, imposter syndrome will likely find you at some point, and it may never completely go away.

That's okay.

It's a good thing.

What is imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is the feeling that you are a fraud - that you have no right to show up in your sector, perhaps because you feel:

  • You don't have enough experience
  • You don't have enough understanding
  • You don't have enough knowledge
  • You don't fit in
  • You just aren't good enough

All or some of the above could apply, or something else entirely.

Imposter syndrome attacks logic, distorting your views of yourself and eroding confidence.

Why experiencing imposter syndrome may be an advantage

As with most things, there is a balance.

On one side of the scale, some people enter a sector knowing that they aren't that good, but they don't care and are great at creating hype. You've probably seen them: their website boasts of an NYC office and multiple awards, but they've never left the UK, and the only award they won was for the Y3 egg and spoon race.

Research suggests that these guys don't rate too highly on the likeability scale - something that is particularly important in freelancing:

Impostor Syndrome Has Its Advantages
New research shows it may actually make you more likable.
Impostor thoughts make you more “other-oriented" - more attuned to other people’s perceptions and feelings - which makes you more likable. (Ebden Harrell)

At the other end of the scale, some fall apart at the thought of putting themselves out there - it's a significant source of stress and anxiety.

The centre of the scale is probably where you want to be - because a little imposter syndrome can be a good thing, deepening your awareness of competition and reducing the possibility of complacency creeping in. Oh yeah, and making you more likeable.

Essentially, imposter syndrome can make you work harder, and when you achieve that key milestone you set out to reach, it feels all the more rewarding. This helps to strengthen confidence - a critical factor in your ability to grow as a freelancer.

Confidence that originates from humility is much more powerful than confidence that stems from arrogance.

How to get to the centre of the scale

If you find imposter syndrome has hold of you, rest assured that it will get easier.

Understand your relationship with Comparison

Comparison and Imposter Syndrome are best mates.

Imposter syndrome flares when we compare ourselves to others who are achieving what we aspire to achieve, perceiving them to be superior and feeling inferior, causing motivation to fall.

Comparison, through the lens of imposter syndrome, creates an illusion based on perception. You think - you don't know. The only truth is that whether you think you can or you can't get to where you want to be, you are right either way.

When comparing yourself against somebody who you perceive to be successful in their field, apply logic and consider the facts - especially one key fact:

No freelancer has a monopoly on clients. There are enough clients in your sector for you to achieve success. What is the smallest viable number of clients you need? It will probably be much lower than you think.

Think business and create a plan

As a freelancer, you're running a business. You need a plan. Whether that's a full business plan or a few notes on your phone - don't overthink it. Your plan fundamentally needs to answer the following questions:

  • What do I make?
  • How does it make money?

Sure, these may be difficult questions to answer. But focus on these, and you're focusing on your business, not somebody else's.

Comparison isn't all bad, of course. Researching how somebody else works can help you identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT). But remember that this is research based on fact; don't get caught up in perception.

Action. Action. Action

Anybody you compare yourself to has a level of visibility - they are taking action. The chances are that the stronger the sense of imposter syndrome you have in the context of comparison to somebody else, the more action they are taking than you.

Action is vital in so many ways because it creates:

  • Motivation
  • Drive


  • Knowledge
  • Understanding

which creates:

  • Confidence

ultimately leading to:

  • Results (of one type or another)

If you're busy taking action, you're not spending time comparing yourself to others.

Keep moving forward.

Failure is your friend

We learn by making mistakes. So when things don't work out, don't let it fuel your imposter syndrome. It's easy to give in and move on. Don't do that.

Everybody, without exception, makes mistakes. Constantly.

Consider failure an advantage - you now have more knowledge, understanding, and experience.

Failure allows you to progress.

Freelance tips

Graeme Tidd

I write inspiring tips for anybody who wants to work freelance, in any discipline. Learn what they don't teach you and make progress 🚀

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