You've done it. After all the hours spent mulling over ideas, researching small businesses and putting the gears in motion, you've launched your first business. But you can't help but feel haunted by the fact you're not really a successful entrepreneur. You own a business, but you don't feel like a real business owner. You feel like a fraud when you talk about your accomplishments, and you may even minimize all the hard work and countless hours it's taken just to reach this point.
Imposter syndrome has gained greater attention in recent years, as people who struggle with this condition feel an enduring sense of self-doubt. They tend to belittle their work or achievements, frequently compare themselves to people they find more successful and are often self-described perfectionists who live under impossibly high standards that constantly leave them feeling disappointed in themselves. It's not surprising that you were drawn to entrepreneurship if you have imposter syndrome, but struggling with the anxiety and poor self-esteem could cost you in the long run. While going to therapy is one option, there are some practical ways you can begin handling your thoughts on your own.
Start Using S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and timely. These are the conditions of successful goals designed to help you systematically work toward larger ambitions. S.M.A.R.T. goals are taught to professional organizations, utilized throughout major companies and even taught in drug and alcohol rehabs as a tool for sustainable recovery. Developing small, structured goals with this framework can help you reign in your own unrealistic expectations. Start with something that feels way too easy, and accomplish it fast. Track your progress, and keep a thorough but concise log of what you did to achieve your objective. As time goes on, you'll be able to recognize how much work you put forth, and have illustrated evidence of your efforts along with your own emerging sense of accomplishment. Give yourself permission to be proud of yourself.
Find Ways to Manage Stress and Anxiety
Regular exercise, adequate sleep and a good diet can give you the physiological foundation you need to stave off negative feelings. If you feel like you need more than just good advice and mental habits, consider professional treatments. A therapist or medical marijuana doctor near you can discuss ways to manage your emotions better. Taking medical marijuana won't impact your cognitive abilities, and it doesn't wield the same psychoactive effects as the same marijuana you buy off the street. It's also safer to use than anything you can buy on your own. Be flexible, and make time for relaxation. As an entrepreneur, you need to invest in yourself as much as your business. Doing so ensures you're always able to bring your best to work, which can help you feel more confident in your own abilities.
Remind Yourself of Your Worth Often
One of the biggest struggles an entrepreneur with imposter syndrome faces is feeling like they don't measure up to their own standards, let alone anyone else's. You may cringe through compliments and struggle to accept praise, and the concept of self-love could feel foreign to you. A lot of people with imposter syndrome motivate themselves by berating their progress so far; it's like telling someone who just hiked up a mountain that it isn't impressive because there are people who scale Everest. Start paying attention to how you talk to yourself; whenever a negative thought or criticism springs up, respond to it with kindness. Praise yourself the way you would a small child as this is actually the part of you that usually just needs to hear someone say, “Good job! I can tell you worked really hard.”