Celebrate Every Win— And Put Your Impostor In Her Place!

Marinating on the things you did today to contribute to your career is a simple yet extraordinarily effective way to weaken the influence of the impostor and reverse the Impostor Syndrome. Recognizing all you do, particularly through the act of confidence journaling, is one of the key themes of my recent article Stretch, Grow & Thrive: Building The Confidence to Defeat The Impostor. If you caught that article, have you engaged with your confidence journal? How has your experience been? How does it feel to acknowledge that each day you make multiple, tiny, positive leaps forward for your own career, for your team’s function, for your clients’ needs, and for the success of your firm? Do you sense the impostor who lives within is beginning to suffer defeat? Recognizing all the steps you take to build confidence is one essential part of the impostor’s overthrow.

Here’s another question to answer honestly, with a little guidance: How often do you celebrate your accomplishments and successes?

A). “I celebrate my accomplishments and achievements every day.”

B). “I celebrate only the biggies, like receiving a raise or a promotion.”

C). “I mean to celebrate, but I never get around to it.”

D). “Who has time to celebrate?”

E). “I have nothing to celebrate.”

If your response is not letter “A”, your next step is to begin to celebrate the tiny wins. This doesn’t mean popping Champagne and lighting cigars every day; rather, a silent “way to go” is in order for all that you do each day to live your values and further your personal and professional efforts. In other words, the things that make you you.

Here’s another angle: Consider the continual contribution you give to your colleagues. You helped Martha brainstorm for a presentation that she was struggling with, you sent that proposal draft to your manager, and you got to the client site on-time. Why should the notion that all of these acts are part of your job stop you from engaging in a virtual fist pump? After all, if you’d experienced the opposite outcome, like arriving late at the client site, you wouldn’t hesitate to beat yourself up for it. Or at the very least you’d feel anxious, rushed and impatient going into the meeting, which promotes the flow of cortisol and the corresponding negativity, thereby inflating the impostor’s shadow and causing you to feel smaller in your body. It’s simply not a beneficial formula.

The Chemistry of Celebration

Celebration, you see, is the key to resetting your neurochemistry. It constitutes as the second part of the definition for confidence. Celebration, or recognition of your efforts, is the trigger that allows you to spring into action for future opportunities. It affords you the courage to stretch out of your comfort zone, and try again, no matter the circumstance.

Consider this: Each time you arrive at a client site on-time and give yourself a silent “rock on”, your brain releases little hits of oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin and endorphins. Neurochemically, these leave you feeling a greater sense of connection, comfort, focus, attention and security. All of these tiny acknowledgements help retrain that brain from running right towards your instinctual negativity bias, and continues to deeply carve out the neuropathway towards appreciation.

The fascinating thing about these tiny celebrations is that your brain doesn’t know the difference between arriving at a prospect meeting on-time and converting that prospect to a client, since the same cocktail of neurotransmitters is received. The not-so-special part is that, for example, oxytocin remains in the body for about 5 hours, while cortisol— the stress hormone, hangs out more than 5 times longer. We desperately need the celebrations!

While celebration is vital, it’s not the sole nutrient of the spirit. More tools are needed to release perfectionism and the impostor syndrome from our lives. One example is the ever-elusive self-care and the inclination to neglect ourselves. We want to be there for others, and in the process, we don’t believe we deserve or have time to do what’s best for our own well-being.

In a future article, I’ll explore releasing the tendency towards martyrism and re-leasing life through the lens of self-care— both on a macro level (our greater energy of Mental, Physical, Spiritual, Emotional) and on a micro-level of movement and tiny changes in diet and mindset to nurture your different physiologies and holistic wellness. It might sound new-agey, but I assure you it’s research-based. But before that, check back in a week for an article that’s chock-full of resources related to DRIVEN’s recent topicality, including the Impostor Syndrome. You’ll be amazed at what we’ve been able to compile, and you’ll be glad you engaged!