Author: Nicky Torode
Wouldn’t you just love a simple and impactful tool which in real-time gives you access to your resourcefulness, banishes that lingering inner critic and those creeping feelings of self-doubt?
What is this magic wand you cry? Why it’s journaling!
Journaling – the act of free flow, unrehearsed writing without stopping to edit or ponder – has long been one of the habits of many successful businesspeople. Regular journaling really accrues cognitive and emotional benefits which are pertinent for running and growing a business. By writing things down you instantly see what you’re thinking, overthinking, assuming and avoiding. By seeing your challenge on the page, it becomes more controllable and manageable. Writing helps you to pause and reflect and extract lessons from your busyness of business. You gain clarity, generate ideas and step out of your to-do list to step into a new perspective. Journaling as little as 10 minutes a day, a few times a week, builds confidence, self-belief and sends your imposter packing.
Have you ever not taken credit for your achievements? Have you ever felt you were just lucky in gaining that promotion or contract? And what about that lurking fear of being exposed as undeserved of your professional success? If you said yes to any of these, you may well have imposter syndrome traits. Imposter syndrome affects more people than we may realise, and not only women as commonly believed. And it is on the rise. With the transition to home working during the pandemic, imposter syndrome is more prevalent amongst leaders due to the lack of peer interaction and mission creep in tasks expected to perform according to LinkedIn research into executive leadership during Covid. Barclays LifeSkills Research (2020) indicated an increasing appetite amongst young female entrepreneurs to start a business during the pandemic and cited the findings of the earlier Alison Rose Review on Female Entrepreneurship of a perceived (rather than actual) lack of ability as a barrier to start up.
Starting with journaling
Journaling is one support system you can use regularly to lessen the grip of your imposter syndrome.
Incorporate 5, max 10, minutes of journaling into your day: either in your rising-in-the-morning routine, lunch time downtime or end-of-day wind down. I hear people say they don’t know what to write about and that continually writing from ‘I’ is exhausting and feels like treading old ground. To counter those feelings, I advise on experimenting with a variety of techniques in your journaling to jolt you into new ways of thinking and seeing. I offer a few below. Also keep a log (or write on slips of paper for a journaling jar) of what’s resonating all around you in your daily life – sights, sounds, words spoken or overheard, feelings in your body – which can serve as real and live prompts for your journaling later in the week.
I use the model of write-reflect-act. Once written, find the nugget of wisdom, or key insight, or strength to guide you now.
Prompts to Banish Your Imposter Syndrome
Blow Your Own Trumpet
Remind yourself what you have done well, done confidently, done with gusto in your business week so far.
If you’re the modest type, you can start your sentence with Even if I say so myself
Which imposter are you?
Look at these 5 types of imposters as identified by imposter syndrome expert, Dr Valerie Young, in her book, The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women, 2011.
Pick one which resonates the most for you.
Write into that experience.
When did you last feel like that? What did it feel like? What could you pinpoint was influencing you? What helped? What hindered?
Superhero – overworks themselves to make up for how inadequate they feel
Natural Genius – sets exceedingly high goals and are crushed when they don’t reach them
Perfectionist – never completely happy with their work, fixated on flaws
Soloist – prefers to work alone, won’t ask for help for fear of appearing weak/incompetent
Expert – never satisfied with their level of understanding, always learning more
Portrait of Your Inner Imp
The word imposter has a little imp in it!
- Draw your imp – take a whole page in your journal. Don’t hold back! Bring it out.
- Give it a name
- Draw an expression or gesture
- Draw something that it’s holding/wearing
that suggests its origins/type
- Give it a motto! What’s it always saying to you!
- Draw a line under it.
- Write an empowering sentence under that line
Letter From Your Imp
Get into their shoes and voice! What are they always saying? How? When?
Letter Back to Your Imp
Exercise your right to reply – with the voice and energy you started your business with. Remember, when you were unstoppable?
Write a Spell to Banish Your Imp
Back to wands! Write the ingredients and the magic spell which will turn the toxic imp into a bar of confident gold.
Monthly Assets Sheet
This exercise, done at the end of each month, helps you map and track what assets and strengths you already have and are developing.
Remind yourself that as you hold this grid in your hand, you will carry these assets into those vital business conversations which will grow your business.
1 green shoot
Write an Affirmation
Something you truly believe in about your business self that you can carry through this week
Positively stated I know enough
Present tense I am, I can, I know, I have
A Final Reflection
It’s an effective technique to reflect after every journal entry.
Ask yourself questions:
What did I need to hear today?
What is alive for me now?
What is the gift in these words?
Nicky Torode is a facilitator of online journaling for success workshops which explore themes relevant for business and professional success. In the workshop, we write from imaginative prompts, reflect to extract the learnings and pick up an action point for reaching our business goals.
Valerie Young (2011) The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why capable people suffer from imposter syndrome and how to thrive in spite of it. Crown Publishing Group.
LifeSkills Barclays Research (2020) https://home.barclays/news/press-releases/2020/08/barclays-announces-skills-boost-for-female-entrepreneurs/
LinkedIn research report, Leading During Covid-19 https://www.forbes.com/sites/benjaminlaker/2020/09/23/linkedin-research-reveals-rise-of-executive-imposter-syndrome/?sh=3e4ed7b82ae0
The Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship The Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship (publishing.service.gov.uk)
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