If you don’t know much about my book story, you won’t know that I have dyslexia. I still remember the taste of sick in my mouth when my English teacher would ask me to read a paragraph aloud in class. I struggled to read or write for my whole life, and it wasn’t until recently I chose to defeat my stigma and write my own book. In January 2016 I became an author when I sat down to write Secrets of Successful Sales.
As a dyslexic, writing the book was one of the biggest challenges I had taken on in my life. The struggle trying to get the words out of my head and onto paper was at times downright heartbreaking, and many tears and tantrums took place in the year from when I decided to write until I finally had the first paperback in my hand. You can read more about my story of writing the book here.
This week I became an international best-selling author. My book, Secrets of Successful Sales, shot back up the charts 18 months after its first release to number one, not only in the UK but in Australia and Canada too. Little did I know that my book, written by me, a dyslexic from Clydebank, would be read, enjoyed, and utilised by people all over the globe.
“Imposter syndrome is the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.”
It is fair to say that I suffered from a huge amount of imposter syndrome during my book writing journey. I was brought up in a working-class family in Clydebank, Scotland where only tradesmen and the “well to do” had their own businesses, let alone write their own books. I had to defeat my stereotypes, and I conquered.
Here are my top tips to beat imposter syndrome and achieve your goals:
Use CBT to separate your thoughts and feelings from your behaviours.
One of the earliest forms of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy was created by Aaron T Beck in the 1960s. CBT helps us to understand that our thoughts create feelings, and our feelings create behaviours. We can use CBT to understand what thoughts are allowing us to behave in the ways which are stopping us from achieving our goals. For example:
My thoughts: I can’t write because I’m dyslexic. I’m rubbish at writing and could never be an author.
My feelings: Hopeless, lack of self-confidence
My behaviour: Avoiding writing
Thoughts re-enforced: A member of my team will write the blogs and I won’t bother writing that book.
It’s good to talk!
For me, opening up and talking with my team and my family about my fears helped a lot. It’s easy for us to bottle up our feelings naturally, but often our brain catastrophizes things to make the issue seem much bigger than what it needs to be. Friends and family can also help to bring us back to reality and see what thoughts are true and which are false.
Imposter Syndrome is a build-up of anxiety surrounding a specific subject, for me, it was that I couldn’t write. According to the Mental Health Foundation, studies show that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction leads to a 70% reduction in anxiety, and therefore the thoughts of imposter syndrome.
Goals are ultra-important. They are the things which drive you on to overcome your fears. Without them, you will flounder and lose focus. Without focus, you will doubt yourself and feel like other people are better than you. The best thing to do is to ensure these goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. For me, when I was writing my book, I planned to finish two chapters a month, and then re-visit at a later date. This helped me to combat overwhelm and fight off imposter syndrome, and ultimately become an author.
Imposter syndrome can often become heightened when you are seeing everybody around you achieving their goals, it can make you think that you are behind everyone else. If I had paid attention to every other author publishing at the same time as me, I would have lost my direction. It is important to remember that you are on your own journey and to focus on yourself.
So, what are you going to do differently?
If you follow my tips, you’ll find yourself doing things differently. You’ll overcome impostor syndrome.
If you dig deep you will find the confidence you need to BELIEVE in yourself.