Do you feel like a fraud in life and business?

Do you feel like a fraud in life and business?  - The Cafe Wordsmith

Do you ever feel like you’re “faking it” in business and that at any moment, you’ll be found out and revealed as a fraud? Are you afraid that you’re playing in a pool where you don’t belong and it’s just a matter of time before someone notices and calls you out on it?

There’s been a theme to my online conversations this week. The same issue has popped up over and over again, and it’s one I know well. I’ve struggled with it too.

Imposter syndrome

Wikipedia sums it up nicely:

Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.

I’ve dealt with this a lot in my own life and business, and if my recent interactions are any indication, I’m not alone.

Does this sound familiar?

I remember walking into my very first upper division literature course in college as a 19-year-old sophomore, completely convinced that everyone in the room was smarter than me and I was going to suck at that class, that all my papers would get laughed at, and that I wouldn’t understand the material. (By the way, I got an A in that class and when I graduated, that professor told me to let him know if I ever needed a letter of recommendation for grad school or something.)

Or this?

When I was just getting started as a general VA, I didn’t even think to focus on writing services. Writing was easy for me, so I figured it was easy for everyone and therefore, not a valuable skill. Then one day a client said “Hey, you’re a writer. Could you write me a blog post?” She gave me a topic and I sent her a draft less than an hour later. I thought this was completely normal until she said “Holy crap, that was fast! That would have taken me all day, and it wouldn’t have been as good!”

That’s when I realized imposter syndrome was holding me hostage again. I wasn’t a fraud. I actually was a good, fast writer. I realized that not everyone can crank out content as easily and painlessly as I can, and that people would probably be happy to pay me for that service. (Spoiler alert: They totally do, and now I’ve built a business around that skill.)

Is this ringing any bells for you? Do you ever think that what you do is easy and simple, and therefore couldn’t possibly be valuable?

Guess what? If something is easy for you, that means you’re good at it. It’s a skill. Not everyone can do it.

Math is easy for my brother, but not for me.

A friend and client of mine is an organizational wizard, but that’s still a skill that takes a lot of concentration for me.

I promise that you’re amazing at something too, even if you feel like you aren’t.

So how do you get over Imposter syndrome?

Notice what you’re good at and own it.

What’s easy for you? What are you good at? If you’re drawing a blank, ask other people who know you well. What are you good at? What is obviously easy for you that isn’t for them? These things are usually so commonplace for us that we miss them. They’re blind spots.

Know that you’re not alone.

The more I talk to people online and in the real world, I realize that imposter syndrome is everywhere. If you feel like a fraud, look around you. Chances are good that the people you admire, the ones who look like they have it together, they probably deal with this too, or have in the past.

Fake it.

It takes time and practice. Faking it ‘till you make it is a good technique here, but only if you remember that everyone else is struggling to feel legit too. You’re not alone. It also helps to talk to other people who can see your blind spots for you.

Gather evidence.

Start collecting evidence that you actually know what you’re doing. When I feel like a fraud, I talk to friends and my amazing clients. My clients are awesome about expressing their appreciation for my work and pointing out what they like about me, which has done WONDERS for my confidence as a content writer and VA.

Also, ACCEPT COMPLIMENTS. Most of us just brush off compliments, but don’t. Say thank you, and note what people compliment you for. If you blow off a compliment, chances are that’s one of your blind spots.

Confirmation from others is evidence that you aren’t actually a fraud and that you are good at what you do. Put this stuff in a computer file and look at it when imposter syndrome sneaks up on you.

Have you struggled with imposter syndrome in your life or business? How do you handle it? Leave a comment and let me know 🙂

 

How to Make Any Goal Your Reality

How to make any goal your reality - The Cafe Wordsmith

I’ve set a lot of crazy goals in my life. Some of them never amounted to anything; I might have lost interest, found something better, or just didn’t have a plan and gave up.

Other goals though, I’ve knocked out of the park.

I’ve had a lot of practice setting and reaching goals. I’ve learned what works for me and what doesn’t, and what works for me seems to work for a lot of people!

Goals are the magic bridge that connects our dreams to our reality.

I’m going to share the goal setting method I used to start and grow my business, write my novel, reach financial goals, and basically accomplish anything I set my mind to. I’ve learned that the method of setting goals is almost as important as the actions themselves, and having a plan can definitely speed things up.

How to Make Any Goal Reality

Step #1: Dream

What do you want your life to look like?

This is the part that drives the rest of the process, like fueling up your car before starting a road trip. Skip this step, and you won’t get very far.

So what do you want your life to look like? What would be amazing? How do you want to spend your time? What issues would you like to be solved? How do you want to feel?

Remember this amazing feeling, because this is your “why”, the whole reason for this process.

Spend some time with this daydream. Really sink into it and feel what it would feel like to have that life. If you’re into vision boarding, but out those scissors, baby. If you want to anchor this with affirmations, go for it. Whatever it takes to make that dream feel real to you, do it!

Step #2: Clarify

Define your dream with a goal

In your dream life vision, what have you accomplished? Do you have a successful business? Do you own your dream home? Have you quit your day job to work for yourself? Written your book? Write down anything that comes to mind.

Ask yourself what would need to happen in order for that dream to be true, and use that to form your goal.

Step #3: Refine

Get clarity

Your goal needs a few things to be really clear: You need to be able to measure it, you need a timeframe, and it has to be within the realm of possibility.

For example, “Have a successful business” is not a clear goal. “Increase my business revenue by 50k this year” is much clearer because you’ll know when you’ve achieved it, you have a timeframe, and it’s at least somewhat realistic.

(I’m all for dreaming big and shooting for the moon to land among the stars, but I’m a big fan of realistic goals too. More on this here.)

Figure out these details and craft a goal that is as specific as possible. For example: “I will pay off my students loans by Christmas,” or “I will double my email list in the next 100 days.”

Step #4: Map it out

Break that goal into small actions then schedule those actions.

Now that you’ve got an exciting, clear goal to shoot for, you’re probably feeling really overwhelmed. The best goals are the ones that feel possible, but scare us a little.

So where do you start?

You break things down into teeny tiny non-scary steps. You can probably think of lots of different things you’d need to do in order to reach your goal, so grab a piece of paper and write those down.

Those are probably big steps too, so write down the steps you’d have to take for those steps to be possible. If you get stuck, try reverse engineering those steps. What would have to happen right before reaching that milestone? What would have to happen before that? Keep going until the path unfolds at your feet and you run into steps you can take right now.

Then do those things in order. If they don’t all fall into an obvious order, do the most important things first.

Big tip: You might have absolutely no idea what to do and where to start, and that’s okay. Just deciding and setting the goal is the biggest step.

Get the “what” and “why” sorted out, and the “how” will follow.

Figuring out steps can be a step on its own. If you’re stuck and don’t know what to do next, take some time to do research, talk to an expert, etc. Anything you need to figure out steps. Just don’t get stuck in the research process. I suggest doing enough research to get a nice overview of the whole process, then enough research to find your next steps. This doesn’t have to take a long time, and it doesn’t have to be perfect. Learn enough to move forward, but don’t let it become procrastination!

This is the process I’ve used for just about every goal I’ve successfully accomplished, and I believe in it 100%. Give it a shot, and you might be astounded by what you create.

Need help accomplishing your business and blogging goals? Check out my services here! 

Know Your Goal Setting Style for Better Results

I’m super nerdy about certain things. Harry Potter, for example. Personal development. Writing. Goals.

Seriously, I love goals. Dreaming them up, defining them, writing them out, the whole process. I love the adventure of making a dream reality and the personal growth that comes along with it.

On my quest for the perfect goal-setting system, I’ve come across two basic schools of thought around setting goals that are actually motivating. I’ve tried both, and I realized that different methods work for different people. Knowing what motivates you is CRUCIAL to your success. After all, setting the RIGHT goal that you’re actually excited to reach plays huge role in whether you’ll actually reach that goal.

Let’s look at these two different goal-setting methods.

Method #1: Shoot for the Moon

The method involves big, huge, amazing goals that are scary and exciting. This gets a lot of people jazzed up because they’re the “shoot for the moon and land on a star” type, who are motivated by out-of-this world goals.

One reason this can work is because when your focus is far ahead of you, it’s actually really easy to accomplish a smaller goal that might have felt daunting on its own. For example, an author and speaker I follow tells a story of a cross country coach who told her they were going to run twelve miles one day, and they only ended up running six. She was so geared up for the twelve mile run that the first six miles passed quickly and easily.

Another business coach I really admire recommends this method, setting goals that are absolutely massive and then going for it. She feels that this pushes her farther than realistic,  less challenging goals would, because she’s the type of person who loves the thrill and feels amazing about her progress, even if she doesn’t quite reach her huge goal. It’s worked wonders for her and her business!

Method #2: Be realistic

The other common method I’ve seen is about setting realistic goals, even smallish ones. The idea here is that knocking out the lower hanging fruit and lots of small wins will motivate you to keep going.

By setting very achievable goals that are broken up into little milestones, you build momentum and ultimately, achieve more.

So do you prefer to take it slow or shoot for the moon? What’s your goal-setting style? Look at your history with goals. Have you had better success with big, outlandish goals, or do you accomplish more when you set smaller ones?

There’s no right or wrong answer here. It all comes down to what motivates you. Do you like to check off boxes, or land on a star?

I definitely fall into the second camp. I like smallish, only slightly-scary goals that still feel doable.

Massive goals just overwhelm me. I get caught up in the bigness of it and feel paralyzed instead of inspired. I might have big long-term goals, but I like to set more realistic goals and focus on the short-term. This keeps my eye on my next steps.

How to Dream Big AND Be Realistic

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” -Bill Gates

Both methods are valid. Both can work. But how can you harness the power of each to bring your most incredible goals to life?

Given enough time, you can accomplish just about anything, so the crazy-awesome goals can be great for long term (potentially very long term) goals. Time is the only difference between a realistic goal and a totally bonkers goal.

Set those goals. What do you REALLY want. What would be absolutely amazing if it were your real life?

Use that as your long term goal and break that into more realistic short-term ones, and then break those into doable steps that don’t paralyze you. Remember, nerves are fine and great for growth. Paralysis is not!

Do you need help reaching your business goals? I’d love to help! Check out my writing and virtual assistant services here. Let me take some tasks off your plate so you can focus on your goals!