My #1 Tip For Dealing With Imposter Syndrome

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IMPOSTER SYNDROME! If you’re reading this blog you’ve probably heard of it. But just in case….here’s a quick definition. 

Imposter syndrome is just that – it’s feeling like an imposter, a fraud, like someone is going to find you out.

It also means that you assess yourself as lower or worse than you actually are. Like when you get an awesome opportunity and you think, Holy crap, I’m not ready for that! I just got lucky. I only got that opportunity because they like me. 

Yep, that’s imposter syndrome.

It manifests in a bunch of different ways, from not going after the promotion or big client because we aren’t sure we can really hack it at that level to keeping ideas to yourself in meetings (especially with leaders!) to staying in a bad job too long because you question if you can be successful at another company.

And it just doesn’t feel good. Wouldn’t you rather feel like your confident, authentic true self rather than a fraud? Yeah, me too.

SO – now that you have your primer on imposter syndrome, what the heck can you do about it?!?

Here’s my #1 tip: NAME IT.

Yep. That’s it. Whenever you hear those imposter thoughts start to circle in your head, stop and NAME IT. Say to yourself “That’s just my inner critic talking. That’s just imposter syndrome. It’s there. That’s cool. I hear you, but you’re not going to make decisions for me.” 

That’s it! Try it the next time you feel like an imposter and your inner critic shows up. Let me know how it goes!


Did you know that I coach women one-on-one? I work with women experiencing imposter syndrome and doubt so you can become a confident leader, start a business, or change jobs – and feel GOOD about yourself in the process. The practice I shared today is just the tip of the iceberg. If  you want to quiet your inner critic and increase your confidence, click here to schedule your free 30-minute coaching consultation with me.

The Secret Thoughts Of Successful Women

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No, I did not come up with that title, but it’s pretty fantastic. “The Secrets Thoughts of Successful Women” is a perfect way to describe imposter syndrome.

SECRET because we don’t talk about our doubting, imposter thoughts.

Whenever I facilitate a workshop on imposter syndrome, one of the biggest comments I get back is, “It’s so nice to know I’m not alone thinking this way. I thought I was the only one.”

Let me guarantee you right now – you’re not the only one that feels like a fraud or wonders if you have what it takes. But you feel alone because our thoughts and feelings are only taking place in secret.

SUCCESSFUL because imposter syndrome impacts overachieving women that are uber-capable, climbing the corporate ladder, growing their business, and becoming strong leaders.

But when they achieve this success they feel like they don’t belong. Like they’re going to be found out. Like everyone in the room is smarter and has fancier degrees.

So it’s the perfect title for Valerie Young’s book.

It’s also one of the items in this month’s Go Love Yourself Box, a monthly subscription box focused entirely on personal development.

Each month there is a different theme, from sleep to friendship to – you guessed it – imposter syndrome. In the box you get a personal development book on the topic with a workbook as well as tools and treats to help you put your development into action. There is also a Facebook group where you get to interact with a community of women so that you don’t have to feel alone in your challenges (and your joys!).

Why am I telling you all this? Two reasons: 1) I’m working with The Go Love Yourself Box this month as one of their featured coaches! Which means I get to coach women and talk about imposter syndrome with a whole new group of people. Woo-hoo! 2) This is an awesome product that I wanted all of you to know about. If you’re reading this blog you already have an interest in personal development and this box is a great way to keep learning each month!

Follow The Go Love Yourself Box on Instagram (@thegoloveyourselfbox) or Facebook or go to their website to learn more.

Happy learning!

Five Ways To Get More Quiet In Your Life – Without Meditating

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If there is one common thing I see among my clients – among all Americans really – is that we need more quiet in our lives.

Our lives are filled with noise. People and devices are constantly talking to us – and often at the same time. If we have a minute of downtime, we pull out our phones to scroll through social media or check email. We’re so used to noise that it can be uncomfortable to be in the quiet.

But we need quiet. BADLY. We need to stop and listen to ourselves think. To get back in touch with our true inner voice. That whispering in the back of our heart that keeps us on our authentic path.

Meditating is an awesome way to get more quiet in our lives. But I also know that it can be hard to find the time. And I hear a ton of people judge themselves for not meditation “perfectly” – i.e. they can’t sit still and empty their minds. (Side note – if this is you, there is no such thing as perfect meditation! Our brains are designed to think and we’re on overdrive all the time – you can’t be expected to sit down for 10 minutes and magically empty out your brain!).

I wanted to share five ways to get more quiet in your life that don’t involve mediation – or any extra time at all.

  1. Drive with the radio off. I do this about 50% of the time now, but it was WEIRD the first time I did it. I don’t think I’d ever sat in a car without music or talking of some kind. But it quickly became a respite for me and I think you will learn to love it as well. Same approach goes if you take public transport instead of driving. Practice just sitting there quietly.
  2. Take a walk without headphones. Unplug. Feel your feet hit the ground. Look at the flowers or the way the sun hits the snow. Listen to the birds. Notice what is happening around you and just be present.
  3. Eat a meal alone without looking at your phone, watching TV, etc. Really enjoy each bite of your food. Smell it, feel the texture, taste every morsel of flavor.
  4. Take a day without social media. Technically social media doesn’t always have actual, physical noise as we’re scrolling through, but it’s like noise in our brains. So take a day a week or each month and give yourself a break from social media. Pro tip: Delete the apps on your phone so you won’t be tempted. They only take a few minutes to reinstall!
  5. Choose your own quiet. What is something that you typically do with noise? Do you workout while listening to podcasts? Cook with music? Do the dishes with the TV on in the background? There is nothing wrong with any of these things, but try doing one of them in silence.

Most of these activities will be uncomfortable at first. Expect the discomfort. Embrace it. And you’ll soon learn to enjoy the quiet 🙂

Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with women to master doubt and imposter syndrome and own their brilliance. Learn more about her coaching services here.

Why Women Apologize So Much – And How To Stop

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We’ve all heard it. We’ve probably done it ourselves. There’s even a Pantene commercial about it.

A woman apologizing for absolutely nothing she has to be sorry for.

For sharing an idea at work. For needing help. For being busy. For stating our emotions. For existing on this earth, sometimes it seems.

I recently told a group of women at a speaking engagement that we need to stop apologizing because it decreases the power of our message. That if we as women want to be strong, confident communicators, then we need to stop starting sentences with “I’m sorry, but…”

It’s true. Apologizing for our ideas and emotions decreases their power.

And that’s exactly why we do it.

We’re not taught as women to take up space. To have opinions – and be direct about them. So we apologize to make our opinions more palatable.

Early on we are praised for being perfect, sitting quietly, and following the rules. So we apologize as adults when we’re anything less than perfect.

We learn quickly that part of our value as girls is being cute and likable. So we apologize if we fear we’re being too harsh.

Most of this is totally unconscious.

The good news is once we bring a habit from the unconscious into the conscious, we can change it.

Start by noticing when you say “I’m sorry.” And then substitute phrases to get away from always using those words. Even something as simple as “Pardon me” instead of “I’m sorry” will help to break the habit.

If you stop apologizing your communication will be stronger. Most of the time most people will react well to this. Your message will be clear and your ideas heard.

But the reality is that others will say you’re too direct. (Raise your hand if you’ve ever gotten that feedback.) They’ll be taken aback by your confidence. By the strength of your message.

And that’s okay.

Because if you put yourself out there, take a chance, and share your bold ideas, you will sometimes get criticized.

You just don’t have to apologize for it.

Do You Feel Like A Real Entrepreneur?

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“Oh, it’s just something I do on the side.”

“I’m a good coach (photographer, writer, artist, etc), but I’m not really an entrepreneur.”

“Sure, I sell my stuff, but I’m not a REAL business person.”

Any of these sound familiar?

I hear statements like this from women a lot. We’re good at the thing we do, but we’re not really a business person.

I see two main reasons this pops up for women.

First, we see ourselves as “bad” at the business side. We aren’t good at sales, taxes, marketing, balancing our accounts, keeping up with QuickBooks (seriously, nothing makes me feel more incompetent than trying to balance everything in QuickBooks). And because we’re “bad” at these things, then we can’t be real business women.

But there’s a second side to this as well.

Owning our status as business women makes it REAL.

Because if it’s a side hustle, then it doesn’t really matter if you make any money.

If you’re only in it halfway, then the potential for failure isn’t as scary.

If you’re not really an entrepreneur, then who can blame you if it doesn’t work out?

I get it. It is scary to own this title of business woman or entrepreneur. It sounds big. It sounds like we should know what we’re doing. Like we should have a formal business plan, perfect marketing scheme, be super profitable, and know exactly where we’re going. And if we don’t have these things, then who are we to possibly call ourselves entrepreneurs?

It’s imposter syndrome, hitting us hard and fast – and we often don’t even realize it.

But here’s the thing – ownership creates commitment. The more we say OUT LOUD “I’m an entrepreneur. I’m a business woman” the more it becomes part of our identity. And we act on our identity. We make decisions based on our identity. So if we start calling ourselves business women, we start acting like it.

Start saying the words, even if you don’t believe them at first. Start to introduce yourself as an entrepreneur. Include your side hustle as part what you say when you meet people — without saying it’s a side hustle.

Because the truth is if you’ve made even one dollar from something you’ve sold, then you’re an entrepreneur.

It’s time to start saying it.

Are you ready to squash doubt and imposter syndrome and build your dream business? Click HERE for the Five Secrets To Getting Out of Your Own Way – And Running a Successful Business. You’ll be on your way!

Why Our Brains Are Dumb

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We put a lot of stock in our brains. It’s held up as THE mastermind of our entire being. It’s the smart organ, the place where all our facts, learning, and knowledge are stored.

But there are some MAJOR gaps in our brain – particularly related to fear.

Take my experience of becoming an entrepreneur….

There were times when I was thinking about quitting my job to launch a business that I felt like the air was being sucked out of me. Like someone had tied a corset around my lungs and pulled the strings tight. My heart would beat fast, I’d get a pit in my stomach, and sometimes I’d even get nauseous.

My brain screamed, “STOP! I don’t know anything about this entrepreneurship thing. Don’t even think about going there!”

My brain interpreted this new venture as a threat. Like the possibility of running my own business was trying to kill me.

BUT NOTHING WAS ACTUALLY WRONG. I was completely safe.

And this is why our brains are dumb.

Our brains are designed to have a reaction to anything new and different. Because, in our brain wiring, the unknown isn’t safe. It’s uncharted territory that could kill us (literally).

This worked great when we were living outside being chased by animals. And it still works great when our actual, physical safety is at risk.

But most of the time our brain’s reaction to fear only serves to keep us small. To keep us safely planted in the circle of everything that is familiar and comfortable.

The problem is there’s a long list of amazing experiences that only exist outside the circle of familiarity. Starting a business. Going to a different country for the first time. Saying I love you. Sharing your writing. Singing in public. Doing anything on a stage. Getting a new job.

Pretty much anything that involves growing, learning, risk, and following our dreams is outside of the circle that our brains fervently try to keep us locked inside.

The good news is that once we do the scary thing our brains start to realize that we DIDN’T DIE – and maybe it would be okay to do it again. So our fight or flight reaction cools down a bit the next time around. It gets a little easier to take action.

One thing that has helped me overcome my brain is to simply ask myself,”Am I safe right now?”

99% of the time the answer is yes. Sure, I might be afraid of making a mistake or embarrassing myself, but that’s not going to kill me. So my brain can just back off.

Try it the next time your heart beats faster and your palms start to sweat. Stop, take a breath, and ask yourself, “Am I safe right now?” If the answer is yes, choose to override your brain, take another deep breath, and start moving forward.

 

Learning To Fail When You’ve Always Been Successful

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I’ll admit. In my career, I’ve generally been successful the first time I’ve tried something. Sometimes that success has come naturally. Other times I’ve had to work like crazy. But I was nearly always able to get it mostly right the first time around.

Not anymore.

Entrepreneurship feels like a daily wake-up call, a continuous journey outside my comfort zone. In the most humbling, amazing, frustrating, growing way possible.

There are moments when I’m riding high, overflowing with gratitude for the work I get to do.

And there are times when I feel like nothing works and I have no idea why. When I believe I’m putting something high-value into the universe and no one responds. Or they like it – but won’t actually pay for it.

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This has been the last few weeks for me. This fall I piloted a group coaching program for women to get control of doubt and imposter syndrome and own their strengths so they can move forward in their career with confidence. It was AWESOME. I loved every second of working on it and the people in the program loved it as well.

This is it! I thought. I’ve found my signature program. I even had another person sign up for the next round of the program just as I was finishing the first.

It turns out I was wrong. After launching multiple marketing strategies, I’ve realized that this particular program isn’t connecting with people.

In short, I’ve failed.

It’s not fun.

But I’m realizing it’s fine. Healthy. Maybe even a good thing.

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Ten years ago I sat in the Mexico City airport with a participant from one of the leadership development programs I coordinated at Cargill. While we waited for our flight back to Minneapolis, she shared that another participant had asked her, “How do you know how far you can go if you’ve never failed?”

I realized in that moment that I had never failed either (at least professionally!). And in the ensuing ten years I spent in corporate after that conversation, I never really failed. I wasn’t perfect, but my good was always good enough.

So I’ve never really known how far I can go.

Now is my opportunity. To embrace the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows and learn from them both. To LISTEN. To create my business from a combination of what comes from that listening as well as my personal knowledge, values, and purpose. To dream bigger than I ever have before. And to EXPECT failure along the way.

It won’t be easy. It will be often be uncomfortable. There will be tears. And also joy.

And it will be worth it.

Are you hiding in busy work?

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I make a to-do list everyday. Until a few months ago it was just one long list of everything I needed to get done that day, whether it was as simple as a quick email or as complex as creating a marketing plan.

I got most of the things done everyday and I felt pretty good about it.

And then I realized the 1 or 2 things that weren’t getting done each day were the things that would really propel my business forward. 

There are so many reasons to skip the big work – it often takes more time to do the bigger work, it needs more energy and headspace, demands higher creativity.

But there’s another reason. 

The big work was totally outside my comfort zone.

The big work involved putting myself out there, asking for what I want, and potentially facing rejection. It also brought up all sorts of inner critic imposter thoughts like “You’re being too salesy”. 

I was hiding in my little work. The busy work that makes me feel productive, but doesn’t actually move me in the direction of my big dreams and goals. 

And I didn’t even realize I was hiding. 

Now I make two to-do lists each day – one for big work and one for little work. This tiny shift has made a huge difference. When the big work is laid out so clearly it is impossible to hide. 

I want you to take an honest assessment. Are you hiding from your big work? Are you making yourself busy so that you can feel productive while safely tucked away in your comfort zone? 

Commit to doing your big work in 2019. Categorize your to-do list like I did or write down just one thing each day that will move your forward towards your big goals. 

Stop hiding from your dreams. 


P.S. If you want to stop hiding and start moving in the direction of your dreams, register for my live webinar this Friday, January 18 at noon central: The Five Steps To Master Doubt and Reclaim Your Confidence. Click here to register on Zoom. Just enter your name and email and you’ll get a confirmation with the link.

Is it time to leap?

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I ALWAYS wanted to be a redhead. I completely idolized Anne of Green Gables. And I think I fantasized about wandering out on the moor in Ireland, freckles catching the light and hair blazing in the sun.

When my hair went gray ridiculously early and I decided to dye it, I slowly started to ask the stylist to “add more warmth” – AKA, please make it redder without actually taking the leap and making it REALLY RED.

After a few years of baby steps, one day I decided to take bold action. I bought a bottle of Garnier’s Medium Golden Brown Mahogany and 45 minutes later I was a REAL REDHEAD. This was no halfway – I had finally taken the leap that I knew was inside of me for years.

And it was PERFECT.

More than perfect. It was authentic. Like what I saw on the outside was finally aligned with who I was on the inside.

I felt like more of myself than I ever did as a brunette.

Sometimes taking incremental steps in the answer.

But sometimes you need to leap into the person you really are.

To finally listen to your true inner voice that has been whispering at you for years.

To make the decision and just GO FOR IT.

What leap do you need to take?

 

Heather Whelpley is a speaker and coach that works with women to master doubt, own their brilliance, and step into the career and life they desire. Click here to learn more. 

Stop “Should-ing” All Over Yourself

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Last spring I was invited to take a day of no obligation.

A day when I followed exactly what my heart and body told me to do.

A day to unhook from all the “shoulds” in my life and just BE.

It was kind of amazing.

And also completely eye-opening to see how much I followed the “should”.

One situation in particular still sticks with me. I completed a hiking loop in a park and immediately thought, “I have time, I should do another loop.”

But then I caught myself. Did I actually WANT to do another loop?

The answer was a clear NO.

I had enjoyed my hour of hiking and it was time to be done.

I realized that I have a big “should” around exercise – mainly that more is always better. That belief has led me in the past to exercise when I was sick or exhausted and to punish myself for overeating by trying to burn all the calories that I had consumed.

I thought I had put these beliefs behind me. That I exercised for my health and because it felt good.

And yet – this SHOULD to do another hiking loop just to get more exercise was my automatic thought.

It was only because I had taken this purposeful day of no obligation that I paused to question my thoughts.

What “shoulds” are you holding onto?

Do you stop yourself from rocking the boat because you SHOULD be the nice girl?

Are you staying in a job because you SHOULD like it?

Do you say yes every time someone asks for your help because you feel like you SHOULD, even if you’re already completely overloaded?

Instead of following your “shoulds” start asking yourself what you really want.

Do you want to speak your mind even if it means rocking the boat?

Is your job actually rewarding and fulfilling?

Do you want to say no without an excuse or apology?

A life of should is not happy. It is overwhelming, stressful, and misaligned to our values.

Following what we actually want is engaging and fun. It can also be hard – but in a good way! The way that makes us learn and grow. And it’s always satisfying. Because it’s authentic and real. Because it’s us showing up exactly as we are.

So start asking what you really want. And stop shoulding all over yourself.

 

Heather Whelpley is a speaker and coach that works with women to master doubt, own their brilliance, and step into the career and life they desire. Click here to learn more.