Imposter syndrome and burnout

Jun 04, 2022


Imposter Syndrome is that feeling you get  when you believe you are a total fraud, and that you're going to be found out. It can be completely debilitating and soul destroying. Around 70% of people get it at some point in their career - it’s very common. Though when we have it, we can feel like we’re totally alone.


When we’re feeling like imposters, one of our biggest motivators is to *not* be found out. We want to protect ourselves at all costs. One way we try to cover up our suspected fraudiness is by doing as much work as we possibly can. Surely if we’re doing all the work no one would suspect us of being a total fraud?!


The trouble with this approach is that it’s not sustainable. If we continue to overwork for long periods of time it can result in high levels of stress and ultimately burnout. This is in addition to the stress we feel from having the fraudy feelings and trying to hide it from everyone.


You may find yourself:

  • Taking on more than you can handle
  • Saying yes when you’d prefer to say no
  • Not having any sort of self-care plan
  • With no boundaries between work and life
  • Working late at night and on the weekends


There are multiple reasons why people overwork - covering up or trying to compensate for our impostery feelings is just one of them.


If you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to first identify the root cause - what’s the real reason? Are you putting other people ahead of yourself? Or are you trying to compensate in some way for the feeling that you’re completely out of your depth and you feel you need to make up for it in some way?


Ways to avoid heading for burnout when you feel like an imposter


  • Acknowledge that you’re overworking as a result of imposter syndrome
  • Take an honest look at what you have on your plate, and what can come off
  • Ask for feedback on how you’re performing
  • Define what “good enough” looks like, rather than striving for perfection
  • Build a ‘success bank’ of all the win you have had which can include accomplishments and feedback


Have you ever found yourself overworking because of imposter syndrome? I’d love to hear from you!


We cover this plus a lot more on the Imposter to Empowered programme, find out more here.

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