Habits Feed Our Imposter Syndrome…

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Have you every considered,

The psychological power of habit ? ? ?

I say that because…

‘The characteristics that render each of us unique are seldom the products of rational choice’. (I)

There are good habits that can be life-enhancing like exercise.

And…there are bad habits which over time can hurt us in ways we’ve never considered. (II)

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Charles Duhigg in his book, The Power of Habit says,

Once you know a [bad] habit exists, you have the responsibility to change it . . . others have done so . . .

…Almost all of the patterns that exist in most people’s lives — how we eat and sleep and talk to our kids, how we unthinkingly spend our time, attention and money — those are habits that we know exist.

And once you understand that habits can change, you have the freedom and the responsibility to remake them. Once you understand that habits can be rebuilt, the power of habit becomes easier to grasp and the only option left is to get to work.” (III)

I share this insight because all too often, once you start doubting yourself, you never stop. It becomes a habit.

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Just like a river cuts through the earth, so too are the habits in our lives.

What we often don’t understand is that instead of cutting through the earth our habits form neural pathways in our brains which for lack of a better word, program us to continuously repeat these habits.

At its most simplest level, I’ve seen this play out in my own life. When I lived up north, all too often I found myself unconsciously driving to Walmart. I had become programmed to drive to Walmart because 75% of the time that was the only reason I left my home.

It’s funny when it comes to catching ourselves do something like unthinkingly drive somewhere we didn’t plan on going.

It’s not so funny when we catch ourselves doubting our abilities.

However, once we catch ourselves in the act, we can change our habits for the better.

If you think you’re the only who doubts himself read about these people,

John Steinbeck

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Steinbeck felt like an imposter for the praise he got for his work. In 1938 he wrote: “I am not a writer. I’ve been fooling myself and other people.”

In the late 1930s, while working on The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck wrote: “I am assailed by my own ignorance and inability. … Sometimes, I seem to do a little good piece of work, but when it is done it slides into mediocrity.”

In 1962 Steinbeck won the Pulitzer Prize for The Grapes of Wrath. (IV)

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Leonardo Da Vinci

Known for the “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper,” a New Yorker article revealed that Da Vinci also experienced self-doubt, procrastination and esteem issues.

Da Vinci was known for abandoning and never finishing certain projects. He was also very hard on himself. A line in one of his diaries read, “Tell me if I ever did a thing.” (V)

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Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh also suffered from self-doubt.

Van Gogh once said, “If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” (VI)

(That sounds like a great strategy for all of us.)

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My Strategy

Doubt is a normal part of life.

I’ve overcome my doubt by

1.) Quantifying my achievements.

That way what I’ve done and it’s impact is clearly documented.

2.) Requesting recommendations from former bosses.

We are often our own worst judge. The people we’ve worked for bring a perspective that is not tainted by self-doubt.

3.) Recognizing my higher calling.

By that, I mean, my goal in life is not to be just another writer. My goal is to help others through my writing. As a result, I’m not comparing myself to other people, I’m measuring myself against my personal goals. That is, counting the number of people I’ve helped.

4.) I also draw on my faith each and every day.

In other words, I power through my periods of doubt by asking for wisdom with prayer and by repeating scriptures like these,

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Phil 4:13

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

All things work together for good, for those who love God and are called according to his purposes. Romans 8:28

One more thing

If you think anyone can do what you’ve done.

Ask yourself,

‘How many people have done what you’ve done?’


So, in conclusion, Habits can Feed our Imposter Syndrome but Habits can also Eliminate our Imposter Syndrome, the right Habits that is.

I hope you found this article helpful.


Clark Finnical is a Career Expert and the author of 

 Job Hunting Secrets (from someone who’s been there)

LinkedIn Strategies to Take Your Career to the Next Level , 

 12 Lies Told To Job Seekers,

 How to Stand Out: From All of the Other Candidates

What No One Told You About Job Titles and Your Job Search  

The Job Loss Mind Game: What Really Happened And What You Need to Do Now


Featured Image by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Photo I from Amazon.

Photo II by Marsha Phillips on Unsplash

Photo III from Amazon.

Photo IV from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Leonardo_self.jpg

Photo V from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vincent_van_Gogh_-_Self-Portrait_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

(I) Gordon Livingston Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now P. 81

(II) Livingston

(III) Timothy A Pychyl Ph.D. The Power of Habit. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/dont-delay/201204/the-power-habit (I added [bad] to the quote from the article.)

(IV)  Rose Leadem. These Artists, Authors and Leaders Battled Self-Doubt Before They Made History https://www.entrepreneur.com/slideshow/304340

(V) Leadem

(VI) Leadem

Article originally appeared in clarkfinnical.com